Free-Range Kids

Dad Teaches Kids to Ride the Bus. But CPS Says He Can Never Leave Them Alone, Ever.

Canadian Ministry of Children and Family Development slams the brakes on autonomous children

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Bus
Adrian Crooks

Adrian Crook, the dad behind the blog 5Kids1Condo, taught his four oldest kids—ages 7, 8, 9, and 11—how to ride the city bus to and from school for the past two years in Vancouver.

The result? Fantastic. The kids love it, and became friends with the bus drivers. Once Adrian even received an email from a random bus passenger saying what a pleasure his well-behaved kids were.

But (you knew there had to be a but) recently someone reported these "unsupervised" kids to the Ministry of Children and Family Development—the Canadian equivalent of Child Protective Services—and the agency opened an inquiry. They came to Adrian's house and interviewed each child separately. Aware of the stakes, Adrian tried to be cordial. He provided character references. And, adds Crook:

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.

Can you guess what happened? My guess is that you can:

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….

Ultimately, however, For 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.

That bizarre and benighted decision was based on a British Columbia case we've discussed here, in which a judge ruled that no child under 10 can stay home alone. As terrible as that decision was, it was irrelevant to Crook's situation. That was about one 8-year-old, home alone, not four kids together, on the bus.

So what? Crook continues:

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?

Of course not. But does anyone really think common sense is what we're talking about here? The social workers gave every made-up reason for grounding the kids:

[They] 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.

What's more, the kids already had been taking the bus for two years—safely! So clearly this investigation "safety" plan was only in reaction to the busybody's call, for that is all it takes:

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.

Our family's freedom of mobility has been dramatically restricted for little reason beyond the complaint of an anonymous person.

The dad is running a GoFundMe page to pay for the legal case he hopes to make against the government. In the meantime, he reminds us all that when the state insists that the only acceptable parenting is helicopter parenting, it is committing a serious crime of its own: robbery. It "robs our children of agency, independence, and responsibility."

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110 responses to “Dad Teaches Kids to Ride the Bus. But CPS Says He Can Never Leave Them Alone, Ever.

  1. Once Adrian even received an email from a random bus passenger saying what a pleasure his well-behaved kids were.

    *clears throat*

    Hey kids, I appreciate your enthusiasm about riding the city bus, but next time a stranger asks you for my email, address, phone number and daily schedule, refrain from handing out that info.

    1. Adrian Crook, the dad ….

    2. I think he publishes that information himself.

  2. What happened to RAISIN’s libertarian principles?!?!?!? Now RAISIN is advocating riding public transportation?! You really dropped the ball RAISIN. No wonder libertarians are losing hundreds of millions of votes every year.

    1. When did they advocate public transit?

    2. “libertarians are losing hundreds of millions of votes every year”

      Har!

    3. Time to invest in a dad mannequin.

      1. I’ve dated a few chicks with that fetish.

  3. Oh, wow. I would have been visiting dear old Ma in the hoosgow!

  4. Another One Rides the Bus! Special appearance by Tom Tomorrow!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZkouut-9RQ

  5. I used to work with first nations folk(indians for you americans) in years gone by. They are the quintesential free range parents, they had a joke, What’s the difference between a pitbull and a social worker?
    Sometimes you can get your kid back from a pitbull…
    If you wanna fuck someone don’t call the police… call social services…

    1. Alternate punch line – cops won’t shoot a social worker.

      1. But they’ll shoot anyone a social worker points out

    2. Ah, the irony of white government stealing Indian children for their own protection.

  6. 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.

    I’m for gut-feeling based hysteria and so find this guys statement greatly insulting.

    1. “Anyone who knows [me] can tell you [I’m] a [fanatic] believer in [NAP] based policy”.

  7. Isn’t it the State’s job to do the teaching?

    1. It takes a village/government to raise a child.

      1. And make sure they stay state-controlled children.

  8. “Ministry of Children and Family Development”

    Sounds like something from 1984.

    1. Cowardly New World

      1. Brave New World was cowardly. They avoided all pain and eschewed heroism.

    2. Reason should post a list of Orwellian Canadian and American government agencies, it would make for a fun read. Canada has it’s fair share.

      1. That might eat up too much server space.

      2. All of them?

      3. You mean all of them?

  9. Back in my day 13 year olds were babysitters.

    1. Back in my day they ran newspaper routes, riding around the neighborhood on bicycles before the sun came up, and carrying substantial amounts of cash.

    2. “Back in my day, 13 year olds were parents.” – Michael Hihn

      1. Are you kidding me? Back when Hihn was a kid children were used as decoys for Saber Tooth Tiger hunts.

  10. a judge ruled that no child under 10 can stay home alone.

    “With all due respect, Your Honor, were you as a child ever at home alone?”

    “Yes. Hence my ruling.”

  11. Look, I’m on the side of the Free Range Parents here, but I am not sure pointing out crime statistics being better now than in the past is “evidence based” policy.

    Isn’t it at least possible that the whole reason incidents of crime by/against juveniles has gone down is that we have had this major shift in culture? Fewer kids are unsupervised and so fewer kids get into/targeted by trouble. Unless the statistics somehow control for this (and I don’t see how they could do that), pointing out that today’s kids are safer than kids in the 80s basically makes the social workers’ point- that the rise of helicopter parenting has resulted in large scale increases of childhood safety. It’s like arguing that we should let kids drink at 18 since fewer kids are caught drunk driving today than in the past (when it was legal to drink at 18).

    I think the more compelling argument is that even in the 80s, kids were really safe and that the trade off for a few percentage points is that we are raising permanent residents of our basements as we parents transition to our golden years.

    1. Are you saying that stealing hubcaps wasn’t an integral part of my becoming a full functioning adult?

      1. No, but it does explain a lot about your posts….

        Seriously, that does bring up another cultural issue. When I was a kid, I got caught playing with matches by some neighbors. They marched me and my friend to our parents and we were grounded. But those neighbors were happy to laugh it off with my parents. Sure, we were doing something dangerous, but they understood that kids would be kids and they felt the natural response was to handle it with a word to my parents.

        Today, our entire culture has gotten like Old Man Wiggins- who bitched and moaned about “kids these days” who dared to walk across his lawn on the way to school. We now have a complete culture of Old Man Wiggins and this “Institutionalized Curmudgeonry” is the logical result. I think it has a lot to do with fewer people having kids and therefore the understanding that kids do introduce a little chaos into the world- and so they get The Man to enforce that order.

      2. How’z ’bout fencing them? Does that count?

        1. No way! Don’t you know fencing foils are pointed?

        2. We need to nuggetize more kids.

      3. In my day, hubcaps covered hubs, not entire wheels.

    2. All crimes are down, not just crimes against children. The world is safer now than it was back in our day, when our parents let us roam free. So there’s even less reason not to let kids roam free now.

      1. Yes, but most crime has historically been committed by young adults (16 – 25). Again, the argument can be made that the reduction in crime has been a direct result of those kids (who grew to be this age cohort) having more structured and supervised learning.

        Again, I am a card carrying free range parent. Literally. I printed up cards that my kids carry when they go to the park or grocery store. But I also believe in harshly examining arguments, because it is too easy to live in an echo chamber thinking that statistic is at all persuasive when there are people on the other side who long ago discarded it as rational.

        1. But 16 would be after the cutoff for being allowed to roam. I will agree that culture matters wrt violence. So helicopter parents teaching their kids to focus on study and positive recreational activities could lead to less violent people but not because they have less exposure to the world.

    3. Crimes of all kinds are down from what they were in 80’s, not just crimes against children. The only crime that is committed at the same rate as it was in the 1980’s is child murder by one or more parents. The person most likely to kill a child is the child’s mother. Murder by strangers is comparatively rare.

      1. So again, those statistics 1) are completely consistent with the argument that a more supervised childhood has contributed to the lowered crime rates and 2) merely re-enforce the idea that we need an all-powerful state to watch over parents.

        1. No, if it’s true that the person most likely to kill a child is the child’s mother, then fewer children would be murdered if they were allowed to range freely away from their mothers.

    4. Because everyone is safer now than when we were kids not just children. If it really were just helicoptering then only the kids would be safer now and the rest of us would still be in a 90s hell.

      1. Dammit read all the comments ts first dummy

  12. Teaching dependency, timidity, lack of initiative…sounds good, I don’t see any downside…

    1. No downside for bureaucrats, that’s for sure.

    2. *Breaks into song “it’s the Canaaaad-ian waaaay”

  13. The dad is running a GoFundMe page to pay for the legal case he hopes to make against the government.

    Challenging the state is just going to make it madder.

    1. And we’re back to the pitbull analogy, q.v.

  14. Canadian Ministry of Children and Family Development slams the brakes on autonomous children

    Autonomy is for robots, not children. Children need to be dependent upon the state. How do we accomplish this? By teaching children like they’re robots.

  15. I grew up in the 1950’s and 1960’s in New York City, not known as the safest place in the US. Ten and eleven year olds were often”latch key” kids who walked home after school, opened the apartment door, went in and remained there by themselves until 6:00 or 7:00 PM when at least one of their parents came home from work.

    I was lucky, my mother didn’t work. Still, I rarely came straight home after school. There were parks, after school sports (unsupervised) in the school yard, stick ball games (played in the street with traffic) and plenty of other diversions. Not one of my friends or acquaintances were kidnapped, sexually assaulted or murdered.

    I played baseball in several leagues and none of my relatives ever saw a single game I played. That wasn’t unusual. We didn’t want our parents interfering.

    Somehow, I and thousands of other kids who grew up in the streets survived. It must have been a miracle.

    1. Yet, just as many children, such as myself, were raped under the eyes of a disapproving statue of Lady Justice by strangers.

    2. ” Ten and eleven year olds were often”latch key” kids who walked home after school…”

      I walked to school on my own in kindergarten. Everybody did.

      1. Same with my buddy. I remember him inviting me to his house in the third grade. After school we walked about half a mile to his house where he pulled out his key and we walked in. His mother always left him marble cake and we sat and watched cartoons until it was time to go home for dinner. I then walked just about over a mile back home.

        Nothing unusual; except for the part about him having the responsibility of having a key. I didn’t have that because my mother was a stay at home mom.

        All we did was walk and ride bikes.

        This was 1980.

        1. We did that growing up in the 60’s and early 70’s. Rode the bus as well. In the summer we’d be off and running at the crack of dawn.

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

    Not sure about Ontario, but EVERY 16 year old male needs close supervision! (and not by a 16 year old female)

  17. If we just put everyone in jail we wouldn’t have to it up with people doing things we don’t like.

  18. Under the heading of “much needed evidence that not all people suck”, the GoFundMe for his legal case has a goal of $15,000…. In 7 days 400 good people have pledged nearly $18,000.

  19. From the comments on the GoFundMe page comes this little gem:

    Pat Creighton
    7 hours ago

    How na?ve are you to think that your children behave the same way when you aren’t supervising them? I am sure your children are going to draw the attention of the worst people with their inability to consider the other passengers while on transit, which can be seen on the video. What you are doing is asking the bus drivers to be your baby sitter, and they need to keep their attention on what is happening on the road, not on your children. And don’t you dare complain to ICBC when your children aren’t sitting properly when the bus has to make a quick stop, because you are validating some very bad behavior, there, just by what we see on the video. I imagine every pedophile in the Lower Mainland is going to finance this little go fund me page, and don’t blame the bus company when your children become victims!

    1. Clearly the idiot has no idea where Ontario is.

    2. The one way that kids are in more danger is that there are more people around like that poster. When I was a kid, adults weren’t afraid to intervene if they saw a child in trouble. Nowadays rendering any help to others beyond a “strongly worded Tweet” makes you a dangerous anti-government kook.

  20. Ok… just spent the day packing up the house and putting up the shutters. 2 things:

    I am so, so glad that I’m not a laborer working outside in Florida. Dang, the humidity is rough.

    And shutters suck. I’m gonna pony up for the stupid impact windows if the industry ever recovers from this storm and prices return to normal.

    Wish me luck. I’ve got a historic hurricane aimed directly for my house, and a wife, 3 kids, sister-in-law, a dog, two cats, and a lizard in a mini-van heading for refugee status in a neighboring state. I’m less worried about the potential loss of my house than I am about the upcoming drive. 🙂

    See you on the other side!

    1. I hope you, the family, and Mr. Lizard stay safe.

    2. Best of luck, Cyto.

    3. Duct tape the sister in law across the bay windows. (I was going to say “screw the sister in law across the bay window, but, you know).

    4. Best of luck and a safe journey. Take care of your lizard.

  21. Yet another example of a government agency throwing common sense out the window and requiring a parent to act
    against the best interest of his family. Those kids are probably in LESS danger riding a city bus than riding on a
    public school bus with kids who are older than them. Everyday, kids get bullied and harassed on public school buses,

    Forcing this dad to spend extra time driving his kids to school and picking them up each day means less time for
    him to do things like cooking homemade meals, helping them with their homework, playing games with them, etc.
    Instead, he’ll be just that much more tired at the end of the day and have less energy for doing dad stuff.

    What a crock!

  22. someone reported these “unsupervised” kids to the Ministry of Children and Family Development?the Canadian equivalent of Child Protective Services?and the agency opened an inquiry into the nosy bitch who couldn’t mind their own damn business and decided beating the shit out of them was in order. And there was much rejoicing. The End.

  23. Ok, this might be a little pedantic but, I have to tell you that there is no “Canadian Ministry of Children and Family Development”. This is a provincial government body, not a federal one. The province in question is British Columbia. If you’re going to try to report news, at least report facts.

    1. Like anybody believes “province” is even a real word. You’re lucky we even acknowledge Canada is a separate country, you think we’re supposed to learn the quaint little names of all the political subdivisions you people pretend to have? Quebec, Alberto, Saskawatchawan, Poutine – what the hell kinds of names are those for states?

      1. Um that’s Sasquatchewan…

        1. Is that where the bionic Bigfoot lives?

      2. I know! And what’s with calling a county a parish?! Oh…wait no that’s Louisiana.

        Rephrase: What is wrong with the French?

    2. And BC is like California except even worse…

  24. Dad Teaches Kids to Ride the Bus. But CPS Says He Can Never Leave Them Alone, Ever.

    Sad.

    Spend your entire childhood with helicoptering parents, you’ll remain a 3 year old until they stop. Most of my fondest memories of childhood were of boldly going where I had not gone before.

    I find I’m so excited I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it’s the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain.

    It was uncertain. And I often felt skittish. But I faced the uncertainty, often coming out the other side scraped and bruised, but always coming out with greater surety that *I could handle* dealing with uncertainty. Treat a kid like a 3 year old until his teens, and you’ll have a teenager with the courage and resiliency of a 3 year old.

    1. Which seems to pretty well explain millennials and snowflakes.

  25. You know who else had strong feelings about how children should be raised?

    1. Jerry Sandusky?

    2. Fred McFeely Rogers? Jimmy Savile?

  26. It’s like this dad has never seen It before. The world is dangerous out there, Pennywise can be lurking at any corner looking for independent 10 year olds.

    1. First time I am excited about a movie in a long time.

  27. I’m an American living in rural Germany – ALL the kids in our area take the local municipal buses to school. Granted, at that time of day, most of the passengers are kids, but they’re not school buses. Anyone else can hop on and pay the fare, and the bus driver is not responsible for ensuring that the kids actually get off at the school or the right stop for home.

  28. I rode NYC buses alone when I was 8. Today that would land mom in jail.

  29. That little girl should really do something about her hair fire.

  30. 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.

    Ministry, schools, courts, police, you name it: all supported by a “it COULD happen” hysteria. No better way to make sure that “village” it takes to raise a child just keeps getting bigger. And you’d better not break the rules or undermine it in any way.

    And we are all obligated to report on one another, That’s called being responsible and a good member of the village.

    Slowly, but surely, we devolve.

  31. Meanwhile I think San Francisco expects kids to take city buses to school.

    1. Washington D.C. has a program to let them take city buses and Metro rail to school for free.

  32. “Ultimately, however, For 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.”

    This is why I hate lawyers, not the people per se, but what they do.

  33. I find it ironic that the people most uptight about unsupervised kids and the ‘danger’ they are in live in upscale, white communities.

    I live in a solidly lower-to-middle working class neighborhood with a high immigrant population. Kids here walk to school, ride the bus, wander around until the street lights come on, stay at home by themselves, use the stove to make their own dinner, ride bikes without helmets…. So far they have spectacularly failed to be the victim of a serial killer or child kidnapper.

  34. One wonders whether the children can be left to sleep in their own beds at night without an adult supervising them. They could get out of bed and do all sorts of dangerous stuff without such supervision. And then who watches them while they take a bath or use the toilet? Lots of kids die in bathtubs, and I am certain that boys get into trouble with toilets all the time.

    And the fact that they must be supervised in Ontario until they are 16, at which point, in most states in the US, they can be given the authority to drive an automobile without any supervision whatsoever, is truly amazing. One day they are babies, and in a blink of an instant, they become fully capable of driving an automobile.

    Crazy judges.

    1. One day they are babies, and in a blink of an instant, they become fully capable of driving an automobile.

      Only the first part is true.

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  36. In England (and Wales, I guess – elsewhere, dunno) it is not lawful to leave a child under the age of twelve without supervision by an older person. Let alone a gaggle of siblings or friends, aged, say, 7-8-9- and 11. With the curious result, that once the oldest reaches the age of 12, he becomes an “older person” – and can lawfully be left with the responsibility of supervising his siblings of (now) 8-9- and 10 !

    In 24 hours, (or, at the stroke of midnight !) a helpless, irresponsible child becomes a young person able to steer the conduct of an unlimited number of youngsters ! Sort of, “SHAZAMM !” and Super Teenager is upon us.

    My grandmother, with a handful of brats to worry about, used to keep a pennyworth packet of hundreds and thousands in the kitchen. When she wanted to pop down to the shop at the corner of the road she would call the kids, throw the goodies on the kitchen floor, and scoot – knowing the children would take several minutes to pick up all the little balls, having to move the furniture to get at the ones that rolled away, and having to fetch pins from her sewing box to winkle out the ones that had fallen into the cracks between the stone flags of the kitchen floor. Time enough for her to return to ashouse intent on eating chocolate. But not too much.

    But legislate ! I can see that Canadians are mad, by the kinds of politicians they elect. Such “social workers” should be publicly horsewhipped – and all the lawyers, too.

  37. Canadian Ministry of Children and Family Development slams the brakes on autonomous children

    Autonomy is for robots, not children. Children need to be dependent upon the state. How do we accomplish this? By teaching children like they’re robots.

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  38. I rode NYC buses alone when I was 8. Today that would land mom in jail.
    My recent post: Disruptive Design Origin Collection Review

  39. The Vancouver buses are run by a governmental agency, are they not? And they allow children to ride those buses by themselves, right? If it were not allowed, drivers would be told not to accept fares from unaccompanied children, would they not? But they aren’t (or at least weren’t). Doesn’t that count for something?

  40. So – – – – – –
    Now public transportation is NOT the preferred way to travel?
    It is deadly dangerous?
    Oh, well; Canada. Brain freeze is not limited to snow cones, evidently snowflakes can also induce it.

  41. Just noticed this:
    How come the kid on the left does not have a thing around his neck?
    Is that a license from the state to not ride buses or what?

  42. Canada, the only country that can make me still feel like I’m free here in the PRK.

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