Very Superstitious: How Fact-Free Parenting Policies Rob Our Kids of Independence

I’ve been teaching my oldest kids (ages 7, 8, 9 and 11, as I write this) how to take the city bus to and from their school for the last two years. It’s gone unequivocally well, with the kids slowly progressing from riding with me for the entire trip, to being on their own for part of it, to riding entirely on their own. One of my proudest moments in this journey came when we received an email from one of our fellow bus riders, praising the kids’ skills and behaviour on transit.

I’ve happily invested countless hours riding the bus with them, coaching them and answering their questions to ensure they’re capable transit riders. I’ve done this not because I’m too lazy to drive them or too cheap to own a car (we’ve been car-free for two years now), but because I aim to raise capable, independent humans who prioritize sustainability and safety above the perceived convenience of cars.

In fact, sustainability and independence are two of the most important factors motivating my advocacy for abundant transit options for everyone.

Enroute to school at the start of last year, littlest also riding with us as I took him to his Jr K afterward.

Enroute to school at the start of last year, littlest also riding with us as I took him to his Jr K afterward.

Our 45-minute bus ride is straightforward. It begins with a bus stop visible from my living room window and ends at a stop directly in front of the kids’ school. We’ve had no issues riding the bus over the last two years, unless you count losing a cell phone or getting off a stop too early (their GPS-tracked cell phones easily resolved that). The kids have even become friends with the bus drivers.

Nobody’s so much as shed a tear, let alone been hurt in the entire two-year learning experience.

As a responsible and socially conscious father, I did my due diligence before I started this process with my kids. Back in 2015, I asked our regional transit operator, Translink, what the minimum age is for kids to ride the bus alone. They informed me there wasn’t one: it was up to the parent.

An email from a random fellow bus passenger, complimenting the kids on their transit behaviour.

An email from a random fellow bus passenger, complimenting the kids on their transit behaviour.

So imagine my surprise when I received a call from the Ministry of Children and Family Development (the Canadian equivalent of America’s Child Protective Services).

MCFD (or “the Ministry,” as they’re more imposingly known) received an anonymous report from someone concerned about my kids taking the bus on their own. As a result, they launched an investigation that included visiting my home and interviewing me and all the children – separately – to assess the situation.

I bent over backwards to accommodate all their requests, quickly. Obstructing or questioning the Ministry – the people who have the power to literally take my kids away – is an unwise thing to do. So I cooperated in a cordial and swift manner, knowing that there was nothing to hide. Because, of course, there was no hiding how well the kids had adapted to bus life.

The kids queued up to get on the bus in the morning.

The kids queued up to get on the bus in the morning.

I forwarded earlier articles I’d written on the subject of why I taught my kids how to take the bus, I spoke at length and candidly about the months-long phases within this process and the cautious approach I took. Two people close to me who knew my parenting practices extremely well, provided extensive character references to the Ministry via phone interviews. I even suggested the Ministry shadow the kids on a bus ride, but they declined.

While the Ministry conducted their weeks-long investigation, they had me sign a “Safety Plan” stating that the kids wouldn’t take the bus alone until the investigation was completed. I returned to spending several hours a day transiting the kids back and forth from school, a reduction in freedom the kids didn’t understand.

Then decision day finally came.

We also take Seabus (shown here) and Skytrain (Vancouver's subway) often as a family.

We also take Seabus (shown here) and Skytrain (Vancouver’s subway) often as a family.

The Ministry called me into their office where I met with my caseworker and her supervisor. It started off in a favourable way, with the supervisor insisting that I’d gone “above and beyond” what any parent should have to do to train their kids to be responsible and conscious transit riders. They said they understood that this was not a case of me being negligent. If it had been, they would have rendered a decision much faster.

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I’ve set up a GoFundMe for the legal challenge I’m mounting. If you’re interested, consider donating.

Ultimately, however, the Ministry had checked with their lawyers “across the country” and the Attorney General, and determined that children under 10 years old could not be unsupervised in or outside the home, for any amount of time. That included not just the bus, but even trips across the street to our corner store, a route I can survey in its entirety from my living room window.

Furthermore, the Ministry advised that until my oldest was 12 (next summer), he could not be deemed responsible for the other children.

The kids (including the littlest one), chilling at the back of the bus, on our way to English Bay.

The kids (including the littlest one), chilling at the back of the bus, on our way to English Bay.

Their decision was based primarily on a BC case [B.R. v. K.K., 2015 BCSC] that dealt with an eight year-old staying home alone, not four kids riding the bus together. The Ministry also said that in other provinces, the legal age to be unsupervised is much higher. In fact, only three provinces have legislated minimum ages at which kids can be left home alone (and BC isn’t one of them): Ontario (16), New Brunswick (12) and Manitoba (12). Only Quebec has a statutory minimum age for being left alone in a vehicle, and that’s 7 years old.

Does anyone really think there are no children under 16 being left unsupervised in Ontario?

A shot from one of the first times my kids and I took the bus together, November 2015.

A shot from one of the first times my kids and I took the bus together, November 2015.

Also in that meeting were some factless biases I’ve encountered many times before. The social workers stated that the comparatively wide-ranging freedoms we enjoyed in our childhood were, “before we knew better” – despite widely available crime statistics that demonstrate our kids live in a safer world today than the one we grew up in.

Anyone who knows me can tell you I’m a firm believer in evidence-based policy-making, so this fear-driven assertion rung hollow for me.

The Ministry went on to say that playing unsupervised in a cul-de-sac based townhome complex was OK, because “neighbours were looking out for one another” but my kids playing in the fully enclosed courtyard of our condo building, overlooked directly by over 100 neighbours, was not acceptable.

Ironically, crime levels today are lower than they were when I was born. [graphic from a July 22, 2015 National Post article)

Ironically, crime levels today are lower than they were when I was born. [graphic from a July 22, 2015 National Post article)

(Note: in a subsequent email the Ministry would later retract this differentiation between housing forms, after I zeroed in on this contradiction. They fell back to “our expectation is the same, whether the kids are in a condo or a townhouse.”)

The caseworkers further maintained that four kids taking a public bus together was more dangerous than staying home alone, an assertion debunked by statistics. In the U.S., an average of 10 school bus passengers are killed annually, versus an average of 2,300 children killed annually in the home by accidents such as choking, suffocation, drowning, submersion, falls, fires, burns and poisoning.

Beyond that, the #1 killer of kids ages 5-14 is actually car accidents, something most parents do every day without a second thought. And the odds of your child being kidnapped by a stranger on the bus? Incredibly long. A 2003 study in Canada found just one case nationwide of a stranger abducting a child, in the entire two years prior.

Data from the University of British Columbia's Cycling in Cities Research Program, July 8 2017. (click for source)

Data from the University of British Columbia’s Cycling in Cities Research Program, July 8 2017. (click for source)

I raised examples of successful kid independence from other regions, like Japan and New York City – where kids receive their own free Metrocards in Kindergarten and are riding on their own at age eight. They didn’t bite. Heck, there’s even a dog in Seattle that takes a public bus alone every day. But the Ministry replied with questions like, “What if one of your kids hits one of their siblings while on the bus?” – as if it were realistic to believe that an adult’s presence should be required to prevent minor sibling spats from happening.

It makes me wonder why there’s even a bus stop in front of our school at all, if the majority of the school can be forbidden from using it.

It became clear that once this issue had been reported to the Ministry, they had no choice but to fall back on whatever tangentially related case law could be found, despite there being no issues with the kids taking the bus for two years.

It’s a “Cover Your Ass” culture, where even if a trivial issue is reported the Ministry cannot condone it, lest they be responsible for future issues. The Ministry has no incentive or ability to dismiss a report or allow a situation to continue – regardless of how many steps a parent has taken to ensure the safety and well-being of their children.

The kids waiting for the bus after school.

The kids waiting for the bus after school a couple years ago, when I was riding with them.

I asked directly if this was the case and the supervisor nodded, “yes.”

Our family’s freedom of mobility has been dramatically restricted for little reason beyond the complaint of an anonymous person. The freedoms my kids enjoyed for years were removed. Even simple trips like several kids crossing the street to the corner store, or walking to school on their own when they’re at their mom’s place were ruled out – effectively made illegal to our children, but not to every other (as yet unreported) family.

My kids’ friends who are under 10-years old can continue to walk to school on their own, can go to the corner store alone, and can continue to ride their bikes home from day camp. But my children, who are arguably more responsible than most of their peers, cannot do any of these things until they are over 10.

All it took was one report from a stranger to shrink our world beyond everyone else’s.

Being a divorced, single dad who has his kids 50% of the time, I have little recourse to challenge the Ministry’s decision. Disobeying it even in the slightest (i.e. allowing a trip to the corner store by my 9.75 year old), could result in the Ministry stripping me of equal custody of my children, a remarkably draconian outcome I would never risk. The Ministry has effectively mandated I either spend hours each day driving or busing with my kids, or hire a nanny to do that for me – an outcome they’d be hard pressed to recommend if I were a full-time single parent without the financial resources to accommodate this request.

The result in this case is the Ministry once again reinforcing the damaging trend of “helicopter parenting” that robs our children of agency, independence, and responsibility. There’s no weight given to the long game of good parenting – allowing kids to earn independence at a younger age, so they turn into better humans later in life. Instead, constant supervision and prevention of all risk on a minute-by-minute basis is the government’s gold standard for parenting.

Despite research showing the negative effects of overprotected kids, the "short game" of helicopter parenting is what's rewarded and (legally) expected now.

Despite research showing the negative effects of overprotected kids, the “short game” of helicopter parenting is what’s rewarded and (legally) expected now.

Society then wonders why our kids grow up needing us at every step, unable to navigate college admissions or job interviews without a chaperone.

I’ve already done some legal groundwork to challenge this determination, not for myself, but as a defence of children’s freedom of mobility by public transit in Canada.

Public transit is safe for kids, cost-effective (especially for low-income families), builds confidence and affords freedom to kids and parents alike. It’s a vital public service that shouldn’t be taken away from responsible families.

  • Do you believe transit should be available to all ages – young and old alike?
  • Do you believe in teaching our kids independence and sustainability?
  • Do you believe rational, informed parents should be allowed to choose the transportation methods that best suit their family?

If so, please consider making a donation of whatever you can afford to the legal fund.

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Or, if you have a story similar to mine, please share in the comments or via email.

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Adrian Crook is a father of five living in beautiful downtown Vancouver, Canada. When he's not mobbed by his brood, he runs a successful videogame design consulting business.

Latest posts by Adrian Crook (see all)

  • Sarah V.

    You should share this story with Free Range Kids. So sorry to hear of your family’s reduced freedom. I hope you are able to successfully challenge it.

    • Harriet Fancott

      yes ping Leonore Skenzy! The Free range mom AKA World’s Worst Mom TV.

      • Celoptra

        Free Range Mom aka World;s Worst Mom already knows about his story-it was posted on Tuesday on FRKs blog she writes.

  • Richard Johns

    Crazy and harmful age discrimination that should certainly be legally challenged. That’s the only way to fight the bureaucratic CYA response.

  • post post modern dad

    I agree this is bullshit, but if 12 is the age, and it is here in Washington State, then you’re going to spend money on legal fees and get nowhere until the oldest is 12 and it is a moot point. And you’ll more than likely lose.

    • Savannah

      There is no legal age in BC. The Ministry randomly made one up.

      • Leroy_Mouchelette

        And even if there were, there would be a good charter case against it.

  • Kevin Wagar

    Wow man, that is some serious short-sightedness on the part of the Ministry. My kids are 6 and 4 and I already let them spend time across the street at the park. I’m never far, and can see the park from my front yard, but according to these rules, I am being negligent in my parental duties. What a sad display of governing.

  • rww

    Yet they still allow children to be in cars on the highway.

  • Henry L

    So crazy that you had to go through all that. I’ve been taking public transit since I was 9. I can’t believe that it’s “illegal” for a child to be on the bus on their own at that age.

  • Philippa

    It’s a shame they are spending so much of their time figuring out how to deal with your case, when their resources could be better spent dealing with children whose parents are quite clearly unable or unwilling to provide adequate supervision.

  • Savannah

    This story is CRAZY! There has to be some sort of Charter challenge in this. You should shop around to see if you can get someone to take the case pro bono.

    • Martin Spacek

      A Charter challenge sounds like an excellent idea. This is one of those slow cooking issues that needs to finally come to a head, for the sake of the long term future of Canada.

      • Sheri Young

        I agree. In environmental toxicology, residential areas must be remediated to levels that would not be toxic to a toddler if they ate the soil. A toddlers’ parents won’t get reprimanded if their child gets sick after eating dirt, because that’s what toddlers do. The liability goes back to the person who said it was clean, and the government who set the standard for how clean it had to be. So why would we not apply this same mentality and responsibility for infrastructure planning? If we accept that toddlers eat dirt, can we not accept that 6-10 year olds go to school and the goddamn park across the street?!?!?

  • Tina Reilly

    Crazy to waste such resources on a capable and caring family like yours. For the record, though, the info in about kids needing to be 16 in Ontario to stay home alone is incorrect. “The (Ontario) Child and Family Services Act does not specifically state an age when a youngster can be left alone. It does say that if a child younger than 10 years old is left unsupervised, the onus of establishing that reasonable provisions for supervision and care were made rests with the parent or guardian.”

  • Rhiannon Morse

    So all your children under 10 can’t go to bathroom, go off and read, or sleep in their own bed alone according to the Ministry? Ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous.

  • alex

    wtf? Back in the early 90s most of my early elementary class would bike or walk to school And enforcement seems solely based on the fact that some random person complained before

    • Canuckguy

      Well in my case, back in the late 50’s, that was the normal situation. The item in quotes I just made on another blog(SDA) on this very topic. ” My, how things have changed. Back in my day(love using this expression on my grown children), I walked to school alone from Grade One and up. As an adult, I can cover the same distance in 15 minutes. I think now days a parent might get arrested if they had their 6 year old walked that distance to school alone, FFS! “

  • Sasha Prynn

    Oh this bothers me so much. I was regularly taking the bus by myself from the West End to King Ed/MacDonald by the time I was in Grade 3. When we first moved to the West End my mum came with me, but I was doing it by myself within a year. It taught me about learning a bus schedule, being on time, understanding that people were waiting for me on the other end (when she still met me at the stop), and all sorts of skills related to strangers, handling money, trusting my gut, and being a responsible bus passenger. I also used to take the FIRST bus from downtown to UBC at the crack of dawn for sports training, then another TWO busses to get to school after that when I was 11 (and the bus home later). I believe we are robbing our children of the opportunity to become active, courteous, engaged, self-sufficient members of a society/community and this extends to way more than riding the bus and going to the store. When and why did it become so weird and such a threat to have kids move themselves through the world in their own after being taught how to do it effectively?? Sorry for the rant, I apparently have strong feelings about this. Good luck to you! I’m rooting for you.

  • Back to Bizness

    Please fight, and win, your case. There is no good public policy purpose being served by this invasive restriction of your responsibilities as a parent. The fact that you are right about safely putting your children on the bus is almost beside the point. That BC has an agency who can (backed up by threat of removing access to your children) stop you from making good-faith decisions about what is right for your children, should terrify all parents. This exercise of bureaucratic authority isnt just over-reaching, it is also arrogant, bullying, reactive and contrary to the stated purpose(s) for which this agency was created. One ostensibly well-meaning nosy Parker should not have such power over others.

  • Tony Ollivier

    it’s an interesting dilemma. Should you fight it and spend all the effort doing that as the kids get older or just bite the bullet and accept it? I applaud you on your efforts however with getting kids to take responsibility. What does your ex think about this whole thing?

  • CK

    I’m surprised there is no school bus service for kids in elementary school.

    • Kimberly McAfee

      School buses are for kids who don’t have access to transit. Catch-22. The Ministry is truly terrifying. They don’t protect those who need protection & they interfere in the lives of good parents. The system has been broken for a long time.

      • Jo

        Kimberly, you’re absolutely correct! Nonetheless, it is a system that has absolute power. The more you try and “fight” the system the more you are screwed. Social workers are deluded into thinking that they will truly make a difference. They relish in having their absolute power and will totally screw you as much as possible if there is any sort of contention. Making your life a living hell until they can’t make up any other reason to keep your kid(s). Until they have to give them back because you’ve managed to jump through all of their hoops and spent thousands of dollars on a useless lawyer that hasn’t gotten them back to you any sooner…

        • Law ‘n order

          No, the real problem is that the courts usually support the overreaching social workers.

      • The TDSB schoolbuses here (Toronto) are regularly late, up to 40 minutes. I
        have 5 years experience with this and refuse to go back to that route to
        ‘wait till the kid is 12’. Ridiculous. I trained them on the city bus,
        that has been a benefit for everyone.

  • cathytuttle

    Thank you for being such a responsible, creative, and loving parent. Your kids will now be learning a new lesson in what it takes to stand up to senseless bureaucratic and legal systems. Best of luck and keep going!

  • Inna Zotina

    hang on there! once your oldest turns 12 this will be over. <3
    We were also "lucky" to have an anonymous neighbor concerned about my kids going alone to school and swimming pool. Scary interviews, all that jazz. But our case was dismissed because my daughter just turned 12. Both of my kids look younger because they are small and not athletic.
    The biggest problem here – no official age restrictions. So they use case-based reasoning and pick bad cases 🙁
    Ask your oldest to get baby-sitting certificate as soon as possible ( it takes 3 months). That will make you position stronger.

    • Law ‘n order

      It is NOT over when the oldest turns 12. Inevitably, different kids are going to end up going different places at different times. I’m a country parent, and “mom’s taxi” got very busy at times when my kids were growing up. It won’t be over until the YOUNGEST turns 10.

      • Celoptra

        But in this case it WILL be over when the eldest kid is 12..he’s 11 currently

        • Law ‘n order

          You missed the point. It’s only over when the oldest turns 12 if all the kids are always going to the same places. What happens when the eight year old and the twelve year old are going in different directions?

  • Robert Peter Bottos

    Adrian, I live on Coquitlam and have had this debate about allowing our kids to be more independent with several of my friends. I’m 49 and as a kid growing up I walked 2 blocks to kindergarten unsupervised, and then to my daycare afterwards – crossing a very busy street in Vancouver. I look at the congestion around schools at drop off and pick up and wonder how we became so over protective of our kids. Some of my friends with kids say that because I do not have children of my own I can never truly understand their fears. I was in a parental role with my ex’s son for over six years, and I was a Scout leader working directly with youth for 14 years. Trust me, I know what it means to care about and be protective of children, but I also know the importance and value of raising responsible independent human beings. I can’t believe the MCFD actually took issue with you. If you have not gone to your MLA I’d definitely bring your story to them. Rewarding helicopter parenting totally sends the wrong message. I’ve shared your story with my friends, two of whom are journalists/bloggers. I wish you success in your coming fight.

  • There’s a Littlest Hobo episode we just watched where a 14 year old brother takes his younger sister on an over night fishing trip. Childhood freedom is part of Canadian culture!

  • Pingback: Dad Teaches his Kids to Ride the Bus. Now CPS Tells Him They Can’t Even Go Outside Alone till Age 10 | Free Range Kids()

  • Miteymiss

    I grew up in high-rises in Toronto. My mother sent me down to the basement Tuck Shop to buy her cigarettes. I walked, rode the bus and my bicycle to get around. My mother, raised in Europe would tell me, “What do you think I am a taxi service?” Today I’m smoke-free and car-free. I turned out okay. I’m glad you’re speaking out about this and please know many, many of us support you. I’m glad to see lots of journalists are expressing an interest on Twitter as well. Good luck I’ll be sharing your story as much as I can.

  • DadGoesRound

    That 16 age for Ontario is wrong. The Children’s Aid Society in Ottawa has the following to say in one of their publications

    “Who can babysit?
    Adults or children over the age of 11 who have demonstrated that they can care for the children and can act responsibly if there is an emergency. It is against the law to leave a child under the age of 10 to care for other siblings or children. We recommend that only children 12 and over be allowed to care for other children.”

    “When can I leave my child alone?
    The Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa recommends that children less than 12 years of age not be left alone without supervision. This means at home, the mall, the pool, etc… The parent/adult in charge must also make sure that the supervision and care is sufficient for the child.”

    • Erica Pai

      It’s not wrong, it’s probably only needed in very few circumstances so is hardly ever enforced.

      Point 3, section 79 of the Ontario Child and Family Services Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. C.11
      “Leaving child unattended
      (3) No person having charge of a child less than sixteen years of age shall leave the child without making provision for his or her supervision and care that is reasonable in the circumstances.”

      Confusing, considering other organizations, as you point out, indicate that children can start babysitting from age 12 and can take babysitting courses from 11 years old. For his argument, only 3 provinces give a legislated “home alone” age (12 is the other age). It’s totally not clear, considering there are brochures like the one from Family and Children’s services in Guelph and Wellington County that start out by quoting the law, but then says “These are our recommendations” and indicate a minimum age of 10 for staying alone and 12 for being a babysitter. I think the leeway comes in the “reasonable provisions” (neighbours around? just a short period of time? child has a phone? maturity level? any first aid/babysitter training, even if home alone?). But if he’s mounting a legal defense, it’s the law he’ll have to fight, not the current recommendations of Children’s Aid Societies. His other information is well researched, so I’d have been surprised if he got this age wrong.

      Is 16 kind of ridiculous? In most cases, I think so and agree. I think the government is just covering their butts with the age thing so it’s there if they need it. It’s a shame to think it hinder this father’s obviously caring parenting and affect his children. I do hope he wins his fight.

      This paper has a short summary of all provinces, though it’s a few years old:

      • Law ‘n order

        “Reasonable in the circumstances” is a very important qualifier. That most definitely does not say that no child under 16 may ever be left unsupervised. What it says is that there is NO obligation to provide supervision for children over 16, and that “reasonable” supervision and care) must be provided for children under 16. It certainly doesn’t say, or mean, or imply, that a fifteen year old can’t use public transit alone, or be left alone for hours or even days at a time.
        The same applies to both the Manitoba and New Brunswick laws. They use different language but both end up saying, approximately, that children under 12 must not be left unsupervised for unreasonably long periods.

        • CodexCoder

          Thanks to both or you, but the problem is the word “Reasonable”. That word,like “fair” is very subjective and depends, like beauty, on the eye of the beholder. It is the same word that politicians use to justify their actions (very expensive actions), and that police use to charge individuals that defend themselves, or their property (“reasonable force”). Because it has such a wide range of interpretations, it is a very poor word to use and life is not reasonable or fair as any adult will agree.

  • Gar Fisher

    Make this an issue of (so-called) religious freedom to raise your kids as you see fit, and then watch them scramble to get out of the way.

    • Ashburnham Guy


  • Richard Smacky

    Big government makes small people.

  • Emma Luna Davis

    How about a ‘send your kids to school alone’ day of action?

  • JH

    Once again some arrogant think-they-know-it-all stuck their nose where it didn’t belong. I’m a parent to a 1 and a half year-old. If I decide to actually TRUST my son and BELIEVE in him when he is old enough to go to school, get his first job, get his learner’s, etc…I would like to hope that won’t be challenged by someone who really isn’t relevant. Doubt it. Not in the world we live in now where ignorant people complain about unsupervised children in their own backyard (this happened in Winnipeg last year) and now this. Does anyone who reports these things even bother to THINK before they act or are they too busy on their phone or burying their heads in the sand to have any rational thought?

    I’m from New West, but grew up in Toronto. Lived all over that city from when I was about 6 years old. Took transit all the time – sometimes with my mother, sometimes alone. TTC subway, bus route to school, riding a bike, walked, whatever. I miss the late 80s / early to mid 90s for the sheer freedom I had that a now paranoid yet heavily, even overly-connected society deems unacceptable because of ignorance and baseless fear.

  • Mandy Carnahan

    This article should be enough to mobilize the parents of British Columbia.
    The essential core attributes of parenting ignored by the government agency we have elected, must be defended. We all know the future of our society rides upon the future generations we allow to become the society of the future..

    Do you believe transit should be available to all ages – young and old alike?
    Do you believe in teaching our kids independence and sustainability?
    Do you believe rational, informed parents should be allowed to choose the transportation methods that best suit their family?

    These are excellent objective yet relevant questions from within Mr. Crook’s article and we should seek answers from our MLA.

    Transit has always been my preferred mode of transportation as it is very safe and provides access and predictable scheduling vis a system of well documented routes.

    At 9 years old, our son wanted to make his own way to school. My son and I introduced ourselves to the transit driver and rode the route to school, all the while conversing with the driver as anyone would with a neighbour.

    After several very successful months, my son suggested we bake some cookies for his ‘driver’ as a Christmas gift. With joy, the transit driver expressed to me, “My mornings are better when I see him waiting at the stop each morning. I consciously keep an eye out for him just in case he is running late for my bus.”

    This learned skill, urban navigation, has enabled my son to access educational and recreational programs all over Vancouver by using transit.

    He is able to visit friends by taking transit, he realizes a higher level of freedom, confidence and community accessibility.

    This should not be restricted arbitrarily. Having their child(ren)’s safety and security paramount, parents should be free to care for their children dynamically, there are no fast rules. Who better to assuage their capabilities, to weigh the factors of risk within their own specific neighbourhood?

    Enable skills, do not engage in ‘helicopter governance’

    Remember the Sesame Street song/play “The people that you meet each day”?

    • jolayne f


  • Gavriilia Peloponnakos

    it seems like the government is pulling numbers out of its ass. there’s a lot of unsupervised under 16 year olds out there, and nobody bitches about that.

    When I was 9, I was walking to and from school (nova scotia, it was 1993).
    I biked when i had one, and mom didn’t worry about me getting lost or anything.
    nobody bitched to the ministry. nobody said “oh, you shouldn’t be out here, I’m calling the police”.
    when I was 10 or 11, i went to the store to buy cigarettes for my mom and step brother. I’d get to buy some junkfood with the change. (not advocating for your kids buying you cigarettes, the law changed a lot since 1992-1993)

    I started learning the city of dartmouth and the roads/ bus system when I was young.
    so, if they had these laws when I was a child, it’s possible my mom could have lost custody of me, and what? I’d have grown up in the foster care system, instead of growing up with a loving parent?

    my point was that nothing bad happened to me,no strangers abducted me, I’m still alive (obviously).
    Also. the government interferes too often and makes a mess out of NOTHING, on the word of some busy body know it all who thinks they know better than someone who clearly loves their kids.
    What’s next? if they’re not in the same room, they’re gonna take them away?

    I’m not a parent, but I support your decisions. Because I had that freedom when I was a child.
    Also, I hope you win your case. The moment they clamp down on anyone’s freedom is bad.

  • PACitizen

    Good Lord. “The Ministry” needs to hear from “the Minister”, who needs to hear from their constituents that there are more serious concerns to investigate. How is a public bus driver any less a ‘supervisor’ than a school bus driver? Or do parents have to ride the school buses with their kids until age 10, too? I think I’d be making one anonymous complaint per day, about a new school bus full of unsupervised children being callously and carelessly transited from their homes to their schools, completely without parental supervision. Get the entire flippin neighbourhood up in arms.

    It’s the end of the world, as we know it.

    • Ashburnham Guy

      And I don’t feel fine…

  • not surprised :(

    what can i say? utterly ridiculous “rules” but sadly, not surprised. something similar happened to me also when a “concerned” person called the cops on my 10 yr old daughter playing at the school (2 min away) talking to her older brother’s friends on a sunny fall day. had to deal with the annoying mcfd who closed my file in the end. “it takes a village to raise a child” does not seem to apply around here. instead of looking out for our kids and helping them become independent, they must tattle that the parents are not helicoptering, be a busybody and create more stress in the lives of good parents. you mentioned kids in japan. here’s a link to a good read:

    i would be interested to know the name of the person who reported your children to the police/mcfd!! i would like to ask that person to come forward and explain to us all why you did it and why you think (or thought) it was the right call. maybe even withdraw your complaint! first time for everything. or do you really believe you’re doing the best thing for these kids? think about it. let’s hear your thoughts!

  • Very broken system. Wanted to share this:

    The Happiest Kids in the World: Bringing up Children the Dutch Way

    Very interesting book in this regard, pointing out how to raise confident and independent children (but also about how the Dutch social fabric favours this, rather than deter it).

  • tridus

    Good luck with the case! I’m with you on this. As a kid, I was biking to school alone at 9, staying home alone at 10, and doing cross border travel alone at 16. Random bureaucrats imposing arbitrary restrictions that don’t apply to anyone else is an absurd level of power that shouldn’t exist in a supposedly evidence based society.

    People often ask why all the kids are inside these days instead of playing outside. Those same people will call the Ministry if they see kids playing outside without sixteen adults there, whereas inside kids can more or less do what they want. There’s obvious cause and effect here.

  • disqus_v5BMtfYWbA

    Thank you for the work you are doing in this area. It is shameful on the ministries part that they are spending time policing a responsible family, while many other cases of neglect and abuse go unchecked.

    My eldest is starting school for the first time tomorrow. We live within eyesight of the school, and the only road crossing has a crossing guard. It is a school where the parents all come to drop off/pick up until the kids are well past an age I would have had my parents do the same. I’m not looking forward to the side eyes next year when we allow him to make the trip to school himself each day, because I already know they’re coming.

  • Fred Buddy Guy

    instead of turning this into a study case… sheer madness!!! that’s exactly how much room there is for progress on this sun orbiting rock…

  • Yevgeny Simkin

    To follow-up what Back To Bizness says below – the point needs to be made that this agency has some pretty incredible power to both help and hurt families and if they use it with such haphazardness then it’s just a matter of time before it turns into blatant abuse (if your case isn’t already a clear case of such abuse).

    The fact is that there are laws (which you’re not breaking) and at the very least they should not have the authority to impose arbitrary regulations on you. If your municipality doesn’t have restrictions on age for ridership of public transportation then that should *all the evidence you need to get them off your back. Ditto on walks to the store.

    Consider the absurdity of what they’re proposing (I guess your entire post is precisely such a consideration)… How is a citizen supposed to know what they are or aren’t allowed to do if the law says something is ok but some government agency can take your kids away if you do some arbitrary thing that they find objectionable. This is straight out of Kafka.

    • Ashburnham Guy

      All Ministries are equal, but some Ministries are more equal than others…

  • Artful Dodger

    My son started to ride his bike alone across Montreal (11 km) every morning and after school when he turned 12, and even now people are shocked that he does it. Before that, I rode my bike with him, but I would have allowed him to take the metro and ride by himself in grade 5 if not for the intervention of his mother, who took me to court to prevent it. In reality, I wonder how much of this over-protection in society is driven by the natural inclinations of mothers, facilitated by a legal system that gives them the power to assert their will over their ex-husbands? How man of these children going to the park or school alone are reported to authorities in order to affect a change in custody or attack the an ex-spouse. With 50% of marriages ending in divorce, I bet this is an overlooked piece of the puzzle.

    • Ashburnham Guy

      Wow. Hadn’t thought of that…

    • cassia kantrow

      There is nothing in this blog post to indicate that the children’s mother had any issue with the transit plan. To twist this to blame moms for an MCFD response is outrageous.

      • Artful Dodger

        I think I was writing about my experience, which I can assure you is common. Moms are simply more protective, but use of the system in this way has less to do with actually caring for the child as much as hurting the other parent, so the incidences are likely equal. That being stated, the perception that a parent doesn’t protect a child is very powerful in court, and men tend to be more about developing autonomy in children, while mothers are natural protecters. Nothing outrageous about that assertion.

        • Sarah Pugh

          Nothing in my experience as a mother or observing other parents leads me to believe that moms are “simply more protective”. That is just not true, and it is not fair to all the dads out there who are JUST as responsible, caring, and capable as the moms. I am a single mom and I am more actively developing my kids’ autonomy than their dad is, but he is not unsupportive of this, he just has a different living situation with more support. If moms have been the primary caregivers up until a split, they are often far more realistic and willing to provide kids with as much autonomy as they can manage than dads because they know the kids and their capabilities better. I call complete bullshit on this, and I agree with the above comment that there is nothing in the blog post to indicate the kids’ mom had any issue with it. This is NOT about “using the system” to hurt the other parent nor is it about gender or ANYTHING other than a parent’s right to determine when children are ready for responsibility.

        • The Dude

          Fathers are not “natural protectors”? What planet are you from?

          • Artful Dodger

            its a different type of protection, and you know it.

          • The Dude

            So which is it, are fathers natural protectors (perhaps different, in your opinion) or are they not? My experience with mothers tells me that they are more much likely than fathers to consider their children to be an appendage of themselves, rather than as unique autonomous human beings – for obvious reasons.

          • Artful Dodger

            women raise children while men raise future adults. Women protect children from the world, men teach their children to autonomously interact with the world. Men protect children when they need protection.

          • The Dude

            I get what you are saying and in general I agree with you. Unfortunately, our courts in Canada prevent a lot of fathers from actually being fathers. The courts seem to be biased towards transforming fathers to visitors and walking wallets only. What the courts are doing is criminal.

          • Artful Dodger

            The end result for me has been an absolute disdain for the law. You only have to stand before a judge once to realize that the appearance of truth is more important than the truth itself in the eyes of the courts.

          • The Dude

            True enough. My last lawyer told me that “court is theatre”, and I think he was right. It’s all for show, and he who pays the piper calls the tune. After looking at the judgment, it’s pretty clear that twisting the law the get the result the government wants is something they are adept at. And if that doesn’t work, or they think they might lose on appeal, they simply play games and run you out of money. It’s a crooked game.

      • L. Beaulieu

        I don’t think so, it is the harsh reality of our PC society. Women come first now and men don’t count.

        • The Dude

          Absolutely right, especially in the case of government ministries. Every ministry has an “agent” installed to ensure compliance with feminist doctrines. Feminist doctrines are all about the evil patriarchy and how to deal with it by sabotaging men and fathers.

      • The Dude

        The Ministry bends over backwards to NOT blame moms. Dads… well, they love to go after dads. Easy targets, these days and no matter what outrage the Ministry commits, going after dads fits into their feminist doctrines and they will never be held responsible. You can’t even sue them.

    • That’s not suggested anywhere at all in this piece. But considering most single parents in Canada are women (4/5, according to Stats Canada), women bear the majority of intrusions and judgement on their parenting skills and methods. Just like the author, I’m sure they would welcome a system that trusts them and supports them to make good decisions, as well as a cultural shift away from irrational blame and suspicion.

      • Artful Dodger

        Ladies ladies don’t like this line of enquiry much. It would be interesting though to see how the lines of overprotection are expressed on gender lines.

        • Sarah Pugh

          I’m sure a lot of men wouldn’t like your implication that they’re not as protective toward their children as the mothers of their children, either. I understand that you have some personal experience that leads you to believe that there are significant gender differences in terms of overprotectiveness, but I don’t believe that, if you were inclined, you could support that assertion with actual data, and I also think that maybe you are not thinking through your argument so well – by granting women some special, innate connection with their children by virtue of their gender, you are undermining your own position as a capable father. Please take gender and custody battles out of this. It has nothing to do with the argument at hand.

          • Artful Dodger

            So, you are asserting that gender differences don’t exist? Interesting. You should check the science on that though, but be prepared for a little cognitive dissonance.

          • Sarah Pugh

            See that last sentence makes sense (sort of), and I do partly agree with it, although I’m not sure it’s the legal *system* per se, but rather the practical application of it. That’s someone else’s Doctor of Laws thesis 🙂 “Insidious” is a bit of a dubious word too, but let’s not be nitpicky 😉

            Of course gender differences exist to some extent, but what the science actually says is that on any given trait, the range of behaviours falls on a bell curve, and for most human traits, the bell curves for women and men overlap to a large degree. For instance, if you look at measures of physical strength – which probably has the greatest difference between men and women, at least for most age demographics – you would see that while the bell curve for men is shifted further towards greater strength measures, there would be enough overlap to state confidently that there are a bunch of women who are physically stronger than a bunch of men. You can’t look at any man and say he is stronger than a woman. You can measure his strength, look at that measure on the female bell curve, and have an approximate idea of what percentage of women are physically stronger, weaker, or equal to him. You cannot pick a woman out of a crowd at random and say that he is stronger than her.

            So, that’s what the science on gender differences says. There are statistical differences. You can’t use them to predict or explain *individual* behaviour.

            Even if this case was influenced by an overprotective mother (which is rampant speculation and there is no evidence to suggest it), one cannot logically conclude that she is overprotective *because* she was the female in the relationship. The reality you are describing – actual or not – would be at best a correlative reality, not a causative one. Does that make sense? I’m not trying to change your worldview, I’m just asking you to question whether your conviction that women are more protective of their offspring is relevant to this situation. “Describing a reality” sounds an awful lot like arguing, FWIW.

            (Also – who says that the former spouse is female? How would you feel about your argument if it turned out these children were the product of a same-sex union? I don’t recall seeing anything in this post or elsewhere on the blog an identification of the author’s former partner as female.)

            I do realize that your initial point was that overprotective mothers are treated preferentially by the legal system. I don’t think there is data to support that assertion, nor do I think that bringing that assertion to bear in this discussion is helpful.

          • Artful Dodger

            You admit much, but you better be careful or you’ll get fired from Google. I guess it’s completely possible that this guy adopted 5 children, but it doesn’t seem likely. That being stated, it changed little of what I’ve written. I’m actually very careful about my assertions. In reality your responses say more about you than they do about me .

          • catherine stinson

            Perhaps *you* should check the science on that. The commenter above cautioned against positing innate differences in parenting styles. So your question about whether gender differences exist is irrelevant on two counts. One does not need to look at science to tell that, of course, gender differences exist. I don’t know whether gender differences in parenting styles exist, and you don’t either. But the science does show that *innate* gender differences (in general) almost certainly do not exist.
            Nevertheless, it’s possible that helicopter parenting is more common among women than men. If this is true, the implication that women are to blame for the ruining of childhood (as well as all of your own personal woes) is still pretty dubious. Plenty of women hate the fact that they’re pressured to act like helicopter parents. Some do it anyway, only because they’re worried that a neighbourhood busybody will report them to CPS. Another well-worn piece of anecdotal evidence suggests that the general public is much more permissive of (perceived) imperfect parenting on the part of fathers, and much more judgmental of (perceived) imperfect parenting on the part of mothers. So maybe fathers are less likely to helicopter parent (if this is true) because they feel more free to parent as they’d like.
            One of the real problems here is that busybodies sneak around being judgmental of parents and reporting them to authorities at all, rather than asking the parent who seems to be struggling whether they can help. The other real problem here is that the legal system rewards irrational caution and litigiousness rather than responsible risk-taking. Trying to change busybodies seems difficult, but changing laws and policies certainly can be done. What everyone else here is trying to work towards is making that change happen. Once you get over the emotional scars from your divorce, perhaps you’d like to join us?

          • Artful Dodger

            Actually, I have no scars from my divorce. I am, and always was, the one with custody because I had the education and the means to fight. Most of the assertions I’ve made are pretty well known by both lawyers, social workers, and psychologists. The only thing that I’m speculating on is the larger societal impact this type of chicanery might be having on the overprotection of children. You’ll also notice that, to this point, no men have been writing hysterical posts to challenge my assertions.

          • catherine stinson

            I’m not sure why it’s relevant that no men have been writing hysterical posts to challenge your assertions. No women have been writing hysterical posts to challenge your assertions either, unless by hysteria you mean disagreeing with you while using a female name.
            The hysteria response is well characterized as a dodge (as opposed to actual engagement or argumentation), but it’s not an especially artful one.

          • Artful Dodger

            Hysteria isn’t really restricted to females, but they are, apparently, prone to neuroticism, which might suggest that the female bell curve of hysteria is slightly right of the male one. That being argued, individual males can be hysterical, just like the ladies “arguing” with me on this blog.

          • Juliette c

            You are so wrong! Hysteria is specifically a diagnosis only applied to women which is no longer allowed but still primarily used to refer to women when used in common language. You claim to be educated. Are you being intentionally thick?

          • Artful Dodger

            Common language? Maybe when YOU hear the word hysterical you automatically associate it with old-timey psychology, but I think you also took women’s studies in university.

          • Juliette c

            You are arguing that your subjective view of reality is more valid than hers based on your very limited experience. That is arguing and your personal experience is no more a fact than hers. She asked you to back it up with data, can you?

            I have never seen evidence to suggest that women are more protective than men. I have seen evidence that men are less protective of sons than of daughters. I’d love to see actual evidence if you can provide.

          • The Dude

            Divorce is rampant, and disputed custody cases all “award” children to the mother unless she is a complete obvious basket case. That may account for a significant number of the “4/5” mentioned. An overhaul of the Divorce Act was recommended to parliament in 1999, but it has languished because of opposition from lawyers and feminists. There is a lot of money and power available to those who control the disposition of our children, as any kidnapper will explain.

    • JH

      My wife’s family are parasites who have tried endlessly to destroy our relationship and threatened repeatedly to take my son from me, completely ignoring my wife’s opinions and feelings…and we were not even separated (we’re together and remain committed to our son and each other.) I could easily see one of them making an “anonymous” complaint about me. Honestly, I’m surprised it hasn’t happened yet. These reports, even from strangers, are usually coming from a vindictive place and not one of protection. Of course I’m making an assumption but it’s too obvious.

      • Artful Dodger

        I’m surprised the grandparent lobby hasn’t attacked you endlessly for writing such blasphemy 😉

    • Tammy Gray

      Whoa. Moms are not always the problem. My ex husband complained about me!!

  • My almost 10 and 12.5yo are on the TTC bus right now as we speak. I trained both of them, separately, and together, for weeks. Both ways,
    one way, part way….it just makes sense. The alternative is to walk in
    sleet and snow, get hit up by parking enforcement while idling in the packed school zone
    polluting the air or while stopping somewhere illegally to drop the kids at
    their different schools along with thousands of other stressed out
    parents, rush around like a maniac, or have them walk (alone, HA!) for
    35+ min one way. Or wait, is walking illegal, too? (SIGH)

    Or I could put them back on the TDSB schoolbus and have them delivered to their schools 40 min late for weeks at a time…

    Good luck to you. Will continue to observe this from here.

  • Stacey Rocheleau-Bourgeois

    Ridiculous. Don’t helicopter but don’t let them out of your sight. You can’t win as a parent these days. And there are so many miserable people out to report others for nothing other than disagreeing or not liking the way you parent. You hear everyone complaining that kids are lazy and driven to school and yet we can’t let them walk or take transit. Why can’t they have the independence we all enjoyed and needed? There is more fear these days–not more risk. In fact, my 10 year old has a cell phone so she is better off than I was at her age. In grade 6 (age 11) I took transit alone and it was EXPECTED by the school board at the time (they gave us the tickets.)

    Good luck in your fight!

  • Leroy_Mouchelette

    Your kids look like strong, independent, good little-and-getting-big-fast people.
    I don’t remember a time when my parents and grandparents didn’t let me wander. There was no city traffic, but there were lots of bears.

  • Aric Gardner

    If you have the time (I’m sure you don’t) I would donate to a legal fund to fight this horse shit. Fuck the nanny state.

  • Cqoicebordel

    Quick question : wouldn’t the drivers’s supervision be enough ? Or from others passagers of the bus ? If neighbors can supervise in a cul-de-sac, why not the others riders ?

  • Dietwald Claus

    Happy to donate to your case if you are willing to take on the stress and frustration. I try to teach my son as much independence as he’s willing to handle. Cases like yours are a nightmare scenario. Bureaucrats forcing parents to stunt their children’s healthy development. Utterly appalling.

  • Paul McFee

    Bubble-wrapped society is destroying kids. Kids today cannot even look a person in the eye when talking. Ministerial interference with family life is making things more like Orwell’s 1984 every day. Bureaucracies are the bane of democratic society. Parenting by committee is a very bad idea and governments needs to stay the F&^K out of people’s business.

  • wardrich

    This needs to make its way to papers across Canada. Absolutely disgusting that the ministry that is supposed to be protecting children is simply setting them up for hard failure.

  • Sarah Pugh

    Cover-your-ass will work fine for the Ministry until people start suing them for lost time and wages when kids can’t take themselves to school, and for psychological damages to kids having freedom and responsibility yanked away from them for bureaucratic nonsense. How about a class-action lawsuit? I have a nearly-12 year old and a 4 year old. The nearly-12 will be escorting her younger brother home from school on the bus as of next week. If the Ministry says I can’t do that, I will happily gather whatever resources I can and attempt to sue the pants off them for the thousands of dollars I will need to spend on after-school care, because I cannot leave work early enough to pick the kids up.

    • Martin Spacek

      Sweet. Do it!

  • Cathern Harrison Drury

    Read about this crazy situation in our local paper and agree with what you are doing. Fight it because we need more parents like you and many less helicopter parents.Many children are afraid of everything and spend too much time indoors playing with electronics. Nor do they know very much about the world outside their front door or a classroom (neither do many of their parents). Trust me I have been trying for years to interest children in nature and nothing seems to take hold over organized sports and electronics – it is very frustrating.

  • -Sn

    Funny thing is the first age that popped into my head was 10. Obviously this is not concrete there are always exceptions. This seems like a big overstep… I wonder if the original complaint came from somebody with kids?

  • Sarah Albertson

    So frustrating! I really hope you win this case. I recall a case a couple years ago where a woman was told by the ministry that she could not leave her 8 year old at home unattended. Again it was ruled that 10 was the allowable age. The mom was a single parent who could not afford after school care and she had invested time and energy into preparing her son to be able to manage without an adult for the two hours between when school ended and she came gome from work. It might not have been ideal, but nothing bad happened. He was home alone wuth a phone, neighbours that would help in an emergency, totally safe. We need to accept that children are capable and happy to be on their own for a period of time.

    I recently moved from Vancouver to Nelson BC and one of the things I love about this place is that children here walk to school on their own. At 8:25 when I leave my house the streets are full of children walking. No one is driving their kids to school

    • Law ‘n order

      No, it was not ruled that 10 was the allowable age. The court ruling in the case you refer to was that the particular child in question was not mature enough to be at home alone, a decision based largely on his father’s opinion that he was not. MCFD loves to cite the case as precedent, but it doesn’t say what they claim it says.

  • Melanie Jacobs

    I had to fight this fight almost 15 years ago and it infuriates me that it’s still such an issue. I kind of lucked out in that my mother was friends with the local CAS director (in a MUCH smaller community), so I was able to talk to her about my public transit plans for my children before I even started (and give her the head’s up that she’s likely to get a call about my terrible parenting because I allowed my children to take transit alone). Her response was “sure! I was taking the subway in Toronto at six o’clock every morning to make it to hockey practice! I see nothing wrong with this!” While I appreciated her support, it did nothing to help families less connected than I and would leave me back at square one should she leave her position.

    Unfortunately, my biggest opponent in this was my children’s “other” family – dad, stepmother & grandparents on that side and they all filled my kids’ heads with so much fear about public transportation that it took me two years of undoing that before I could start actually sending them anywhere on public transit, BUT WE GOT THERE.

    My children are now 20 and 22 and have more street skills, compassion, independence and problem-solving skills than most 35 year olds I know. Maybe collecting proof of outcome stories like ours could help you? Please feel free to get in touch if you think I can be of any assistance and best of luck in this battle. You’re fighting the good fight.

  • tomwest

    And what is the ministry doing about all the other under-10s riding the bus to your children’s elementary school?

  • Corey Frizzell

    Craziness. Good luck on your battle, I wish you all the best!

  • Gordon Klock

    Used to ride the bus with other neighborhood school kids in the second, or third grade,& went to museums & the library etc. on my own . Nowadays, it’s pretty surreal how things have changed, power crazy draconian types have found a useful tool, in the form of hysterical, & reactionary, busybodies, calling various agencies, whenever they see something that rubs them the wrong way . Call me a paranoid nut, but I think this nonsense is calculated, deliberate, & part of a larger malevolent plan, to eventually enslave & control everyone…

  • greg

    You are a hero. Keep fighting you won’t regret it.

    The dangers of socialism – once it is entrenched like this it just continues to fester.

  • Patricia Porter

    Where was ‘The Ministry” when the six year old kids in my class were crossing at the junction of Broadway and Clark every morning- on their own? Oh, wait, they were indigenous so it didn’t matter! This is a load of bullsh**. Hope you get all the cash you need to defend it.

  • jonesa01

    I have to wonder – if all the ministry staff suddenly had “nosy busybodies” complaining about *their* kids, and forced the ministry to take the same decision on *all* their parent employees, if said employees would be as supportive of the idea….Not that I’m saying people should keep their eyes on the employees and find things to complain about – but it *is* an idea…..

  • tammy

    I support you 100%

  • Maxim G

    Since I was 6 years old and was among many kids to took the bus to tennis practices, swimming practices around a city in Ukraine, that was a helluva lot worse that Vancouver. A city where child and organ trafficking was high, no street lights, no rules and no laws. So grow up Canada.

  • Martin Spacek

    The Ministry. It’s not so far removed from one of the Ministries in 1984:

    Perhaps we should start calling it MiniChilFam, or just skip straight to calling it Minitrue.

    I started taking public transit on my own from the age of 7. I walked and biked to school on my own starting at the age of 5. No one blinked an eye, nor should they have. This was in Edmonton in the 80s, near the peak of violent crime in North America, itself very likely due to the rise and fall of leaded gasoline:

    I wonder what hope there is for the new provincial government to make some changes towards evidence based decision making at MiniChilFam.

  • Lisa Haupt

    I’ve shared on my page!! crazy…i certainly hope you are able to fight this fight with a charter challenge!!

  • Alecta

    This is insane. I was getting myself up, dressed, and to the school bus a mile away, as well as home alone afternoons, at 8. I graduated and had my first apartment at 17, less than a year after Ontario let’s kids be home alone. These rules are illogical and a further erosion into a society of cowering, fear ruled, puppets. Kids need to take risks, they need to learn how not to die, they need to learn how to handle it when Joey breaks his arm in the woods past the park.

  • Zuri Scrivens

    You have my full support. Thank you for sharing and know that many, MANY parents have your back in this legal battle.

  • Peterborough Dave

    MORE than happy to donate $100 to your cause, sir! Do we not, under our legal traditions, have the right to face our accuser?!

    • The Dude

      Not MCFD, unfortunately. They have a type of blanket immunity. This leads to a situation of little or no accountability, which is why they feel safe running roughshod over people’s private family lives.

  • On your bus

    Dear Adrian,
    I saw you and the kids on the bus this morning (Sept 6th)…your children (and you) are pleasure to see always. I even saw you once last year after the kids had done a few days on their own – and told you they did great!!!!! You should be applauded for teaching your kids to be responsible and independent. My partner and I miss it when your kids aren’t there…this is a waster of money to investigate an awesome father. Way to go! Keep it up…I’m donating to the go fund me.
    All the best.
    On the Bus with you.

  • I can say the same, please fight, and win, your case, what can me more than only yours.

    In Europe i was able to go to kindergarden alone (not needed to take bus) and i went to school with my younger brother. I went to the small store to buy bread or something small.
    Weekend we just biking around the neighborhood, play football (soccer) on the street.

    I’m sorry, but bad to see this american-canadian overprotected, not independent kids. It is not good. 10-12 years old kids are running to their mothers like they need protection, when they do not need anymore. Shouldn’t need.

    I hope on some good changes about the age limit, and actually i hope on higher punishment if the parent leave the kid in the hot car, or alone for a whole day when she/he is like 4-6 years old.

  • Diana Work

    You might want to remind MCFD, that all children have a greater risk of being harmed by someone they know than a stranger…..I find it odd that they don’t take into consideration the bus drivers and other regulars that would also be looking out for your children…..our small town bus driver used to stop at our road(not a regular bus stop|) to let my daughter off closer to her house after swimming lessons….I hope you win!!!

  • IceTrey

    So the state has forbidden them to go outside and play in the neighborgood? When I was a kid during summer anyone over 6 was thrown outside and told not to come back until lunch and when the street lights came on.

  • Karim Virjee


    1. I agree with your point of view.

    2. The “ministry staff determined” — is it their opinion or did they back it up with studies and academic research? If not,… where does this opinion come from? Law or practice.

    Very interested in this,… Independent and aware children is a good thing — for the child, and for society.

    – k

  • Karim Virjee

    Essentially a single parent is cornered into a situation where either its day care starting and ending at an ungodly hour or essentially not working.

  • Nicole Prall

    You have my support, sorry you’re going through this. There should be more options available to parents who want to challenge ministry decisions.

  • Steph Argent

    I may be the dissenter here, but I disagree with your position. It doesn’t have anything to do with independence but with safety. Is it fair to have your oldest child responsible for all the others? Where is her need to be a child and not to be the responsible older sibling? How would one of the children feel if another became lost, hurt or sick on the bus? These are not mini adults. They don’t have the reasoning skills yet to deal with a problem that could arise. Yes they have cell phones, but sometimes things happen in a flash.My own children have had problems with creepy situations on the bus and I just think that there will be plenty of time for your children to learn how to handle situations as they get older. By watching you or the nanny in various situations they will learn to trust their judgement, be aware of their surroundings, and grow to be very responsible. But right now, lead the way and let them be kids who can follow your leadership and learn about the world.

    • not surprised :(

      and i disagree with your position. yes, it DOES have to do with independence. the oldest child will soon be twelve. you can get take the red cross babysitter’s course when you’re 11. doesn’t that mean you are now “allowed” to babysit other children? taking your siblings to school is an awesome way to practice looking after younger kids! anyways, isn’t the oldest supposed to be the “responsible one?” besides, the oldest sibling is not the only one responsible for all the others. they are all responsible for each other and looking out for one another! since they probably take the same bus every morning and afternoon, they probably have the same bus driver who is also looking out for the kids and the people who ride the bus are also looking out for these kids! we should be encouraging kids to be independent and supporting them, not discouraging them and scaring them with “what ifs.” how do you know these kids don’t have the skills to deal with problems that could arise like your kids? if something “bad” happened on the bus like one gets hurt or sick (like you suggest), the bus would probably be a good place as there are so many people around to help, so many cellphones and the bus driver could drive straight to the hospital! sounds better than babysitting at a house by yourself! it seems that their dad has lead the way numerous times and are now following his leadership and learning about the world WAS in progress and WAS on a roll until the authorities stepped in and ruined it thanks to the individual who selfishly reported them (NOT!). would really like for this person to step out of the shadows and defend him/herself. would really love to hear his/her reasons for taking the time to report this. steph a., have you seen them on the bus? seems that others have and they were quite impressed. maybe if you did, you would be too. not all children are the same.

      • Dawn Pearce

        I agree. Children won’t even agree to do something such as travel alone or show independence if they aren’t ready and comfortable with it. I had this same issue as Adrian last year when the Ministry told me I could not allow my 7 year old to walk one block to school alone. It’s a block we’d be walking together for over two years, and when I had asked him at the beginning of the year whether or not he was ready to go alone, he assured me that it was fine. Had he shown some hesitation or expressed that he was uncomfortable, I’d never have pushed him to do it. He’s a kid that can order and pay for his own meals if we go to McDonalds, someone I can trust to use judgment with strangers and etc. But he isn’t equal to all 7 year olds and it’s up to the parents to understand what boundaries their children have and deem what is safe and what isn’t.

        I was the unpopular opinion when the other moms in the school found out I let him walk alone. Some won’t even allow their children to walk alone 100 feet to the school. I don’t see this as the proper choice for setting them up for success and independence, but that’s their kid to decide. What I know is what’s good for my family and it was absolutely ridiculous that the ministry forced themselves into my life and home because of a rule they’d decided on. They even went as far as telling me that I could not allow my 7 year old to be alone in the house with my 2 year old while I mow my lawn “in case” something would happen inside the home. But sure, it’s totally safer to have two kids running around the lawn that I’m cutting with motored blades.

        My frustration runs deep. These comments make me feel better that I’m not alone.

    • Mz Molly

      The fact you think your children couldn’t handle the experience is irrelevant. That’s your judgement about your kids – has nothing to with any other parent or any other child. What if I told you you were being overprotective and smothering your kids? That you are setting your kids up to have no skills to handle things out in the wide world? Would you be appreciative of that judgement, given I’m a complete stranger, saying so based on one comment on an internet forum? Exactly. So, I’m sure you are a fine judge of your children’s abilities and limitations, and you parent accordingly. This dad has the exact same right to make those determinations for his children.

  • bluenoser123

    Wow! What a crazy story. I live in rural NS, and had to sign a waiver to let my kids walk home from school after being dropped off at the bus stop (about 6 houses away from my home). Apparently they can’t walk home in a rural subdivision alone until they are 8 years old. Keep up the fight. Raising independent, competent children is so important, and it sounds like you’re doing an amazing job with that! So many kids lack resilience and independence… Your kids will turn out fine. I’m sure whoever reported you has a child who can’t function in society because of their upbringing!!

  • Starting at age 10 my younger daughter attended a school roughly 4 miles from our home that didn’t have bus service. I had deliberately chosen to live on a street with a transit stop at the end of the block, biked to work, had used the bus for transportation with my kids, and saw no reason to have her school schedule turn me back into a chauffeur.

    You did far more to prepare your kids than I did. I bought her a bus pass, rode the bus with her, told her to sit near the driver and go to the driver if anyone bothered her, and she rode the bus for several years (not without a glitch on her first day:

    Thank heavens we didn’t get reported for what I considered to be an opportunity to develop essential skills. When she later attended a college 3000 miles away and routinely took trains, subways and buses I was glad I had given her that head start on self-confidence and navigation skills.

  • Miss Trixie

    Ah, Vancouver. That explains EVERYTHING.

    You voted for it, you got it.

    • Law ‘n order

      This province wide, and was the same before the recent election.

  • Julia Longpre

    Fully support you and am going to email the Ministry to tell them my feelings and that they should investigate me as well, as my 9 yr old stays home alone for an hr sometimes and will be taking the bus by himself this year. Everyone who disagrees-contact the Ministry! They need to know society does not support this investigation or decision.
    On a different note, I do have two questions. How does someone who cares about sustainability end up with 5! kids and why do they go to school 45 mins away in North Vancouver?
    Thank you and good luck!

  • DidoCarthage

    I would love to donate to your very worthy campaign, except I happen to have some friends who are **going through the exact same bs you are** and if I have any $ to give, it has to go to them. This is so infuriating.

  • AllanC-B

    I was 10 and riding the bus on my own, over 10 km to get to grade 4!!!
    Children’s Aid Society of London & Middlesex actually GAVE ME TICKETS to do this!
    When I was that age (in the 80’s and 90’s etc … ) we ran outside alone outside from dusk till dawn.

  • Mimi H

    How did Japanese Parents Let Their Kids Get Independent?

  • Mimi H
  • Teresa Macek Latimer

    You’re doing a wonderful job! I work in a college and am shocked at how many students are unable to navigate without their parents’ help! I have parents calling to check grades, “help” with registration, choosing their majors, etc. etc. Thank you for raising independent, thinking, mature children.

  • Tara More

    Another perfect example of how the system has a separate set of rules for married people vs single parents.
    If anything that hard core reality is that single parents are under the microscope for everything where as married people who parent get the look the other way free pass.

  • Amanda Haymond

    This is so ridiculous! I shared your story on Facebook. My family lived in Israel for 10 years, in a town where the kids had loads of freedom. my kids are knowledgeable enough to protect themselves from the dangers of war. They make their own food, bathe and put their younger siblings to bed, make a mean chocolate cake. And based on your story, here in Canada i can’t let them play in the park by themselves? But they have been playing in parks by themselves in Israel since they were three? I would like to join you in challenging this. If we were to get a group of parents together in BC, perhaps there would be some change. Strength in numbers.

  • Nettsche

    There’s so much that’s bothersome in this.
    I really really hope you’ll be able to win this case. I’m from Germany and as of now, helicopter parenting hasn’t taken over our society yet. So I’m absolutely with you: Our job as a parent is to enable our kids to handle life in small steps so they can be functional, strong human beings when they’re older.
    I think you’re doing an amazing job.

    For the record: My preschool (what we call Kindergarten in Germany) was in the next village. It was one bus stop away. Told my mom I was old enough to go by myself after 2 weeks of preschool. Went on to ride the bus by myself from then on. While it was a very calculated risk (mom put me in the bus, the preschool teachers waited at the bus stop) I was the proudest little girl you can imagine because mom trusted me to do it by myself when I knew I could.

  • L. Beaulieu

    If this guy had been a single Mom none of this would have happened. It is a sad trend in our Governments and Society to single out men for punishment.

  • rxc

    The ministry “…determined that children under 10 years old could not be unsupervised in or outside the home, for any amount of time…”

    How can you meet this standard? You cannot allow them to sleep in their own beds at night unless you are watching over them – you all have to be in one big room. You cannot get any sleep yourself.

    Are you expected to bathe them all together, at one time? Are they allowed to study alone?

    I cannot see that anyone, even a married couple, could meet this standard. You should ask the ministry for the names of any of its staff who do, so that you can understand how they do it.

  • Very sorry to hear your story.

    If it’s impossible to remove or relax the supervision requirement, I wonder if there are out of the box solutions to satisfy it. For an extreme example, what about a webcam that is active just for their ride to school? If it’s good enough for businesses as a security camera system, maybe it’s good enough for the ministry.

    Another idea would be a support animal. Support dogs can help blind people navigate, maybe a doctor can certify them as supervision for kids.

    Or perhaps there’s a network of child supervision that can be tapped into at scale. For example, let people download an app that buzzes when an unsupervised kid is nearby. That buzz indicates to the adult that they should be in supervision mode, therefore satisfying the legal requirement. Heck, this could even be something people get paid for, with micropayments coming from the parent.

    Obviously the ideal situation would be eliminating the supervision requirement. But these are some interesting alternatives.

  • Jonathan Leo Bennison


    So your simplest means of recourse… While you continue to jump through all the hoops set before you… While you abide by whatever silly ‘policy’ is created… Your simplest recourse is to address the weakest link in the ministries case.

    Specifically… They are able to spend the time that they did to decide to handcuff your parenting decision… While continuing to ignore the realities and statistics around your neighborhood, city, province, and country.

    Bilaw enforcement is complaint based, as is ministry involvement.

    The ministry was able to shut down your one family, hoping to set an example.

    Your own article makes the point: the ministry MUST investigate any complaint. So you need to bring more examples to their attention, but not through your case, but rather simply through separate individual reports on every example that you can find of this ministry policy not being followed.

    In order to validate this ‘policy’ they must apply it consistently, they just are not expected to hunt for examples themselves… So the ministry is able to hide away in the office except when a formal report is made… Forcing them out of the office…

    So… If you believe that the policy should either be applied evenly or not at all… Then force the ministry to try to apply it evenly across hundreds or thousands of families.

    When the paperwork and labour required to enforce a ‘policy’ that is not based on actual Canadian legislation builds up and backlogs the Ministry, I suspect that your future appeals will find some traction and support.

    Most people don’t understand why you don’t just shut up and roll over… Or they don’t want to speak out for fear of being scrutinized and handcuffed themselves.

  • Rob H

    So so wrong , to even say time have changed and are more dangerous is beyond the pale. Our younger daughter was taking two buses with her older sister, she was in grade 3 which I guess made her 8 / 9 while her sister was in grade 6 so just on 12. The rule was never ever leave your sister alone. I drove them most days but they came home most on bus. In the Caribbean (my wife is from) one sees children of al ages lined up waiting for public transit dressed in school uniforms and backpacks, Many then walk a few blocks from / to home . Using the Ministry logic, if they really care about children then they should not wait for a do gooder to phone in a complaint / concern but check out each transit bus all over the province for every child , no way will they be able to investigate each family. You are doing a fantastic job and before I read your blog , you confirmed to me that the drivers know who your kids are and responsible adults riding that bus are also watching out .. Bloody stupid… on that child of mine in Grade 3,, she is now a physician .. I guess I was a bad parent 🙂

  • cphoenix

    Given that riding in a car is several times more risky than riding in a bus…

    Tell them formally that if you start driving a car due to lost time, and your children are in the car rather than the bus, and an accident occurs that is not your fault and injures one of your children, you will sue them for putting your children in harm’s way.

    I hope you win; I’ll donate something to help.

  • Life Takes Over

    Writing from Ontario, with a child entering grade 6 next year, your story prompted me to read the law on unsupervised children in my province. I’d never really thought of it before. I assumed my child would take public transit to school starting in grade 6 (like I did) when the school board no longer provides school buses. We are a one car family living in Toronto who rides public transit regularly. But after reading up on the law, it would appear that my daughter will not be allowed to take public transit to school on her own next year or, for that matter, until she is 16 because of the unsupervised child rule! Talk about squashing independence!

  • M. Kezorm

    I hope you win your case. This is just ridiculous, kids need to learn responsibility and independence.
    Gosh, I remember being under 10 years old, in Ontario, riding my bike to the corner store, being left home alone with my older brother (4 year difference), for long hours. I grew up also in a single parent home. Its not easy and if there’s no resources for single parents then what are single parents to do, quite their job.

  • Deanna Pelchat Hale

    I hope you win your case. I live in Alberta and the government has left parenting in the hand of the parents where it belongs. That means children can be left alone, ride the bus, or walk to a friends house across the street at any age. Its the way it should be everywhere. Maybe you could use that info to help your case.

  • Danielle Chassin

    Hi Adrian, Thank you for writing about this and for taking action. I am passionate about many of the same issues, in particular alternative transportation, sustainability and raising independent, resilient children. I work for the Global Guardian Project and would love a chance to chat more and possibly interview you for one of our upcoming publications (we are an environmental NGO). Thanks! Danielle // +

  • Jim Sellers

    Adrian, I read your post and the news stories surrounding it with a heavy dose of deja vu. I was there, freelancing in TV production as a single dad with two kids. I lived in fear that some parenting police would discover the extreme measures I had to go through to look after them, find work, get to work and be a good dad at the same time. I am thankful that your situation didn’t happen to me and that my kids are now grown adults and I don’t need to worry about them, at least not about their getting to school.
    I agree with you, I put my kids on busses to school early. I also drove them when we missed the bus and I’m certain that was less safe for them than the bus would have been (I may have been the reason).
    As parents, we live in fear of anything happening to our kids and the best we can do is prepare them for the world, and still bad things can happen. I fail to understand how rules being imposed by government and the self appointed parenting experts makes things better. I applaud your efforts and I’m amazed you have time for any of this, on top of working, homework and everything else. Cheers.

  • Guillaume Allard

    I hope you set a precedent, even know I do not have kids…yet. I plan on teaching my kids life skill and self reliance like my parent taught me. The fact is you are fighting not only for your family’s right. But also for the rest of us. I wish you luck.

  • Owen Waygood

    Hi Adrian, I’m a specialist on transport and child well-being and a prof at Universite Laval in Quebec. I study children’s travel around the world. I’d like to help you with this as it is ridiculous that the Ministry has done this based on commonly held ‘myths’, if you will. We have recently published a review on transport and child well-being that I can send to you. Rather than post my email here, could you perhaps just google my name and contact me through or through my university page. You are basically accomplishing what is recommended for children’s development, and yet the Ministry who is apparently there to protect these rights is taking that away from them (and you). An argument could be made that taking away their rights of autonomous travel, the Ministry is defying the 2nd Article of the Right of a Child ( that was signed by Canada.

  • Jessica

    This is just crazy. As a BC-girl, born and raised, but now living in rural Denmark with my four kids, I just cannot fathom not being allowed to have my school-age children (9 and 7) take public transportation to and from school alone. They’ve been doing it since they started kindergarten, so age 5. Yes, I rode the bus with the first many, many times, until he was secure with the trip — one bus that pretty much drives one road from our neighbourhood to the school 9 kilometres away, a 10 minute trip. And then when little sister started school, they’ve ridden the bus together from day one. No problems. Bus drivers know them. Fellow passengers know them. My kids have blossomed with the responsiblity and independence. The 9 year old now can take the bus into town and walk from the station to his sport activities. And he even bikes — by himself — the little kilometre through the woods/park to the soccer pitches…So, yes, fight the good fight, because this is just so bloody outrageous…Cheering you on from Denmark!

  • Art Lowe

    As a libertarian, i been saying this for years how the the over protective nanny state really believes it owns your children.. I’ve seen it too many times on what happens to parents who do the right things and is attacked by the Idiocracy, busybodies, and just stupid people who think they know better then parents themselves..

    Why should parents be forced to live in fear as the governments want everyone to be doing.. We all know it not a safe world today, due to governments creating the type of crazy world we live in.. but kids need to learn also that you can’t live in fear, yes kids who are having their independence taken away by the nanny state over reach….. Don’t you think it time to strike back at these thugs in government and put them out of a job.. Your liberties are at risk of being lost for good… if you got no freedom, you have no country… “speak out”… This is how the Nanny state thinks..(The State, “After a weeks-long investigation, the ministry concluded that children under the age of 10 cannot be left unsupervised — whether on a bus, riding bikes around the neighborhood or walking to the corner store.)

    You see when you stand up these phony ministry criminals in government, they like to use Threats, Intimidation, Coercion and force and will state they will take kids away from parents, if you don’t go along, and believe me the ministry of children and family’s are terrorist thugs who misuse their office for feminist Marxism and Communism, as i got a few of these social workers fired for the type of stuff they pull..

    Kids today can’t even be kids, when they can’t even play outside in their own yards without the nanny state idiots coming on some bogus report and trying to force their non-values and non-morals on parents.. now you see the state forcing sick and degenerate stuff on kids in these public schools and forcing unwanted stupidity in what they the state calls morals or values, which is nothing but garage interfering with parents wishes..and creating laws to go after parents. So have you had enough of the Nanny State yet?

    I know i have… and keep on fighting the good fight, as it only a matter of time before more and more people have had enough and do what should have been done long ago.. kick their sorry assess out of their job, and that includes these MP’s and MLA moron’s who are in need of a good kick in their butts to smarten them up…

  • The Dude

    Again and again we see the horrible effects of the state out of control. The MCFD can, and does, make people’s lives a living hell… often for no apparent good reason. It is no coincidence that it’s usually fathers under the microscope and being threatened, the Ministry is guided by feminist ideology. I have seen this with my own family, when I asked them to deal with my children suffering abuse. After their investigation, I got an “anonymous” phone call from a Ministry worker informing me that yes, my children were in an abusive home but the abuse was not sufficiently serious to do anything about it. Furthermore, if they had decided to apprehend the children then they would place them in foster care and would do nothing to help them live with me.
    The Ministry is completely dysfunctional, it works according to feminist ideology which offers nothing to children or families, and has far too much unaccountable power. We can’t even sue them for mistakes or corruption.
    To make a long story short, my children have grown up and mostly done well, but one was so scarred by his childhood that he ended up on medication that poisoned him and he died.
    Anyone who thinks this Ministry actually helps people needs to rethink that idea. They may get the odd one right, in much the same way that a stopped clock is right twice a day. Big deal.

  • Inspector Clouseau

    All accuser MUST be revealed …

  • Viktor Klempas

    I am intrigued about one point in your article (pissed about the whole premise of course). You say “Being a divorced, single dad who has his kids 50% of the time, I have little recourse to challenge the Ministry’s decision. Disobeying it even in the slightest (i.e. allowing a trip to the corner store by my 9.75 year old), could result in the Ministry stripping me of equal custody of my children”
    I assume your ex is on board with your kids taking transit without either parent. So that means the Ministry robots have decided arbitrarily, since there doesn’t seem to be any actual policy in place, to use your marital status as a lever in this matter. What a bunch of thugs. For no other reason than as you mention but to cover their own ass’ against potential embarrassment. To use threats with no legal basis like this is beyond reason.
    I hope your initiative bears fruit. We have way to much “nanny state” control in our world. It is not a good thing.

  • JWM

    Just one more reason to fire all the bureaucrats . Useless drones feeding at the taxpayer trough coming up with ways to reduce freedom. We need to empty the trough and reduce government by at least 25%.

  • Peter Thompson

    Best of luck, Adrian. While not to make light of the serious intrusion into your life by mommy government, perhaps you can turn the beast on itself. BC has a carbon tax to encourage transit use etc. ad infinitum. You should complain to the Ministry of climate change that you are being forced by the MCFD to use your car much more and see which Ministry wins.

  • R2D3

    Check out:

    Video: Lost Adventures of Childhood: The High Price of Hyper-Parenting (2009)

  • JRC

    MCFD is NOT the “Canadian equivalent of America’s Child Protective Services”. It is the British Columbian equivalent. Are you writing all this to a US audience? If so, why? What are they, a foreign country, going to do to help you? Why single out the US at all? Why are you not similarly appealing to the other ~190 nations on earth? Better idea, how about focus on where you actually live. You might get more support from people that can actually do something for you (i.e. British Columbians in the British Columbian government).

    • Paul McFee

      Some people just cannot stay on point. It was a local blog that got shared nationally then internationally. Why are you presuming you knew who his intended audience was? And you do understand how social media works to influence change in government, correct? The more voters who become aware of an unfair situation and make their views known to politicians who in turn direct the governmental bureaucracies, the higher the probability of change. Bureaucracies are infamous for following the book instead of applying common sense, so why wouldn’t this individual bring his problems to a wider audience? It just makes sense.

  • 3GSimpleton

    So…like any of this is news?

    Governments of all stripes from federal to local continually implement more laws, regulations and controls. Bureaucracy never diminishes, and instead reaches a point where the initial problems are solved, but budgets continue to require justification. Public servants have lives and mortgages too, and need income security. The system then descends into petty pursuits.

    Combined with fear of litigation and virtue signaling, we have a recipe for creeping totalitarianism…for our own good, of course.

    Once again I pray to be saved from the people who would save me from myself. Tyrants one and all.

  • MW

    Great job raising your kids to be independent, strong, respectful members of our society. More parents should take lessons from you!! I have a question, maybe it’s on here somewhere, but I’m only curious how the mother feels about the kids taking the bus, obviously no resistance? So the government should back off!! Two parents doing right for their kids and teaching them responsibility to get themselves to school, as opposed to those who drive their teenagers to the school door daily and pickup because their kids are socially inept and entitled little brats that take advantage of everything and have their faces imbedded in their tech device 22 hours a day. The government has no right to tell someone how to raise their kids….no rules being broken….better behaved kids than most adults now a days (shaking my head). All the best to you and your little family…..”To the mattresses!”

  • The Oatmeal Savage

    Gutless bureaucrats whose only concern is covering their asses instead of standing for what is right and doing the job they are paid to do.

  • Shannon

    In Victoria, right across from you, our children, aged 10 in some cases, have to take transit to their middle school in their catchment. There is no school bus provided.Walking to their designated school is 45 minutes ONE WAY. And here is the kicker, we live on the outskirts of downtown. So then, coming home, they have to transfer buses! And not every one of these children have older siblings to keep an eye out. And get this… the school banned cell phones this year completely (not even allowed on school property). So, now we do not even have a way to contact while in transit. I wonder what the ministry would have to say about all these kids doing the same?
    I have personally dealt with the ministry, and it was so violating that I can’t even express what that feels like in words. I think their meddling is crossing some major boundaries. Perhaps, if people came together and fight like you are, maybe what they can do versus what they believe they can do will be better understood by both the ministry and the public. Hopefully some line can be drawn, so that children are able to become more independent, and thus flourish psychologically as they are supposed to. I think society forgets that we are in fact “raising adults” opposed to “raising children”. Good luck to you!

  • QA06021E

    As a single dad facing my own challenges, I totally feel for your situation. I applaud your efforts to teach your kids the skills, confidence, and strength to grow up to be adults. In my case, it is “mommy” who challenges every effort I make to raise children who will be independent, capable adults. Instead, I have a biweekly challenge to deal with “it’s not my fault, it was someone else…” “I don’t want to help cook” “I’m not tyding my room, you do it”
    It’s a shame you have to give up on the efforts you made to make your kids ready and capable to take the bus. Keep fighting the good fight.
    As one single parent I met a couple of years ago told me, your kids will appreciate your efforts and regardless of who tries to undermine what you’re doing, it will “pay off”.

  • Martin Spacek

    Here’s a news article about a recent relevant study on the psychology of risk perception, and how it’s clouded by morality:

    “If you leave your kids alone, it’s not predatory strangers who are a risk
    A California study found it’s moralizing do-gooders who are most likely to make mischief.”

  • April Cameron

    We are very much in the same boat, we have 5 children ages 11, 10, 7, 6 & 2. We are cheering you on! There has to be a better way of them determining what is a legitimate complaint or just people sticking there noses where it doesn’t belong because of their own motives! We as parents know our children and know how responsible or not they are to do certain things in their own.

  • Ben Shearon

    Insane bureaucratic overreach. I hope you find a legal way to get that decision reversed.

    My granddaughter here in Japan will start elementary school next April, and at the age of six will be expected to walk to school alone, as will all her classmates. We’re starting to train her on the route now (it’s about a ten minute walk involving roads, pedestrian bridges, and a railway line).

  • Rod Phillips

    I work in this area. Can you contact me via facebook privately.

  • Steve

    You could send them by plane as unaccompanied minors 8-17yrs old

  • Chris

    Adrian, I’m quite fond of your blog and have enjoyed following for years. I too have implemented many of the same lifestyle choices. My own children are not quite skilled at taking public transportation by themselves, but it’s coming.

    Your troubles with MCFD are this: the policies were built for families who cannot and do not take the same care and approach at parenthood. They style their policies to the lowest common denominator (those families who ought to know better, and don’t know how to manage risk).

    This is the other problem. The ministry and policy makers are lawyers. Lawyers will kiss you square on the mouth for even uttering the word “risk.” They love it. It’s a great word and it pairs well with fear, upon which policies are set.

    I would fully expect them to give you a rough time because you are an outlier, an example of good, progressive parenting in unique circumstances. The law (that restricts the lifestyle of freedom that you promote) wasn’t built for you but they’ll apply it to you anyway because, well, the boomers like it that way.

    Your best angle, if you want to bring about change, is to lobby for a change in policy. This way the broader public will benefit from your efforts. However, if you happen to win in a tribunal setting it only sets a precedent for people who then find themselves in the same circumstances and who wish to cite the ruling in their arguments. It’s better to work this from your MPs office, public education initiatives, and as you are doing, gathering evidence.

    Best of luck! Keep us updated and continue blogging!

  • cindy

    I am in Ontario and my 12 year old, some are still eleven in her class, are made by the school board to take public transportation. They do not have a school bus to get to school, so parents drive them or they take public transportation .The school even supplies the free bus pass.
    Also here in Ottawa by grade 4 they are not allowed on the school bus anymore and parents are told the children are old anough to walk themselves, (certain distances).
    By grade one and above the bus driver is allowed to let children off their school bus with no parents waiting at the stop.
    By high school, some are only 13, my other daughter is expected to walk 3km, 40 minutes to school, ALL BY HERSELF.
    I have no problem with this but supervised until 16 in Ontario seems only to matter to the goverment when it is convenient for them or when they want to make an example of someone. HOPE YOU WIN.

  • Elisa

    I live in Vienna, Austria and here it is perfectly normal that kids go to school and home from school alone often changing lines on the metro or bus or tramway. I only started going to school by myself when I was 11 or 12 but that was because the car ride was less than 10 minutes and the ride on public transport took like 40 minutes and seeing as school started at 7.45 my parents prefered I have those extra 35 minutes to sleep but generally here public transport is quicker almost everywhere anyways.
    My 8 year old nephew and niece both walk to school alone and I wouldn’t worry about them. It’s just so so normal around here. In my opinion a 6 or 7 year old is a bit too young to go all alone but if they are going with an older sibling it is totally fine. But an 8 year old is capable of judging traffic well enough to cross streets and take care of themselves well enough. I still wouldn’t leave a kid that is younger than 12 or 13 alone at home at night but them taking a bus? What is that ministries problem??

  • Chi Obasi

    Hi Adrian! I’m fairly young and not thinking about having children quite yet, but I am so happy that I found your post because you just alleviated so much societal guilt. I’ve always known that I prefer an urban lifestyle, that I like the convenience and ease of access that public transportation and smaller living spaces provide not to mention the reduced impact on the planet – but I’ve always felt guilty like I’d be depriving my future kids of something if I didn’t move out to a huge house somewhere. Reading all of your blog posts has been very fascinating and eye opening. I am so sorry that one person’s inability to mind their own business created an undeserved hardship for your kids. As you’re working through that (now several months later) I just want to let you know that even still you are such an inspiration.

  • Bakie Smurf

    I listened to you on the Ryan Jesperson show today regarding video game addiction but I didn’t get to listen to the whole show. I hope you write a blog post about some the insights you shared there. Great work.

  • Badwithnames14

    Reading these comments, I’ve realized something about my life. My childhood home was a 70s duplex in the suburbs of Victoria. It was close enough for me to walk home from middle school (I was too lazy to get up early… kinda regret it now, but whatever). I actually somewhat impulsively choose to do it on the first day of grade 7, thanks cell phones. I didn’t really do much, but I was free to hang out with friends after school without the annoyance of being picked up at a certain time. This continued until halfway through grade 10 when my family moved because “we NEED a bigger house!!!” ensued. The problem? There was a literal mountain between me and my life. I was never wanted to move, but my parents didn’t care. Sure don’t let your kids dictate your life, but at least don’t just bulldoze their emotions with comments like “it sucked there, we HAD to move” which just makes it seem like my mom didn’t care at all.
    “Oh you’ll be able to have a bunch of friends over!” – Was a common line, but we live too far away for anyone to bother with the hour long walk (I did sometimes, but I like walking), and I didn’t want to make people have to pay the bus fare. Also knew nothing about the routes in part because BC Transit’s website sucks.
    Eventually it proved problematic for getting a job, because hey look the stupid community buses never run past 10 (Low pop density is a b**** without a car). McDonalds couldn’t hire me because of it. I couldn’t get a job at flipping McDonalds. Oh well, I ended up with a great boss on my first job. Unfortunately it was only 4 hours a week so I didn’t get much money.
    Now I bus for over an hour one way to UVic, and am slowly dying inside from living too far away. I normally need to take 3 bus lines, with the limiting one being the ones servicing my house. If I still lived at my old address, I’d be much closer to the exchange, close enough to feasibly walk. I can’t stay on campus past 9, 10 if I want to catch a bus that cuts the hour walk to a 20 minute one, and I get up at the same time for a 10am class, as a friend living on campus does for a 8:30 one. I’d rather not get a car for several reasons, but rents are insane because apartments are illegal in most of the city. Heck Langford legally allows higher density apartment buildings than Saanich does, and Saanich boarders the City of Victoria itself without a natural traffic choke point. Some people just care sooo much about sightlines and their neighbourhood charm TM. Cities change, accept it already. Vancouver’s got that same problem, see 80s Skytrain stations that are illegal to build anything except for single family detached houses.

    So there’s my rant. My rant about my life’s problems. They’re all from living on the edges of suburbia. I had the freedom of movement before my parents moved. I could do stuff by myself. Now I’m stuck relying on them anytime there’s a surprise traffic jam on the highway and I miss the last local bus. I’m constrained to the low frequency of the local routes. Honestly it’s those routes that really kill me. If I lived near the 50, life would be just that much better. Your kids are lucky, even with the province’s stupid decision.

    It’s funny, the “Do I Force This Lifestyle on My Kids?” post is in that recommended thing. I feel like my parents forced me into this, but I can’t be too mad. Everyone forces their kids into a life, and that’s fine. Do I slightly resent them? A bit, but mainly because it always seemed like they ignored my feelings on moving. Don’t dismiss your kid’s emotions, they’ll remember.

    Also bikes are wonderful things that provide people freedom and mobility. I wish the roads that go around earlier noted mountain had better infrastructure so riding them wouldn’t be a deathtrap at night. It’d make life a lot easier.

  • Bonnie Lynn-Sherow

    I rode the bus as a small child. Certainly under 12, ten plus miles from one side of town to the other, to visit a grandparent. The city was mine. I was powerful, and competent.

  • Leslie J Cook

    The power these informants have over our lives is appalling to me. I am in the U.S and have had social services involved with myself and four children over an issue we won in court for almost four years now.

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