Canadian father challenges public transport restriction

family law

A Canadian father has launched a legal challenge against the government after he was told that his children could not take a bus to school alone.

Over the course of a month Adrian Crook, from Vancouver in British Columbia, taught four of his five young children how to navigate the city bus route from their home to their school.

The four are between seven and 11 years old and Crook wanted them to realise that they did not have to rely on a car for transportation. Their father accompanied them on every journey for weeks until he was confident that they knew how to be safe and could recognise the stops.

However, child services in British Columbia started an investigation into the matter after they received an anonymous complaint about the unsupervised children. This inquiry took the form of home visits and separate interviews with Mr Crook and each of his children.

Only three Canadian provinces – Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick – have laws which dictate the minimum age a child can be left alone. Despite not living in one of those provinces, Crook was told his children could not continue travelling to school alone. He was advised that it was likely “a court would find that protection concerns do arise”.

Now he has launched a challenge against the Ministry of Children and Family Development’s ruling. In a blog post Mr Crook claimed that he simply wanted to “raise capable, independent humans who prioritize sustainability and safety above the perceived convenience of cars”.  In the time since he taught his children about public transport, none of them had “so much as shed a tear, let alone been hurt”. The four of them “have even become friends with the bus drivers” he added.

The government’s ruling was an example of “a ‘Cover Your Ass’ culture” he wrote, as even with trivial issues like this one “the [Ministry] cannot condone it, lest they be responsible for future issues”. His family’s “freedom of mobility has been dramatically restricted for little reason beyond the complaint of an anonymous person” and the government’s response encourages a parenting style that “robs our children of agency, independence, and responsibility” he claimed.

Until his challenge is heard, Mr Crook said he will not leave his children unsupervised for any reason. He wrote that he does not want to risk losing custody, which he currently shares on a 50/50 basis with his ex-wife.

Photo by Edna Winti via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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