Single dad barred from sending kids to school on city bus
Published Wednesday, September 6, 2017 10:59AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, September 6, 2017 8:43PM EDT
A single father of five is appealing for help in his fight with the province, after he was ordered not to send his children to school alone on a city bus.
Adrian Crook, whose children are between the ages of 7 and 11, says it should be up to him as a parent to decide whether the bus is safe for his kids. The video game designer and blogger is now appealing for financial help through GoFundMe to challenge a safety plan he says he signed under pressure from the Ministry of Children and Family Development.
“I think we need to, as parents, be allowed to make choices for our kids, especially if nothing’s gone wrong,” Crook told CTV Vancouver.
Crook says his children have always been well-behaved passengers while taking the 13-kilometre, 45-minute city bus ride to school. He says they’ve never run into trouble, but that they always carry a cellphone so they can contact him in case of a problem.
“I had a whole year of riding with them to assess it before even letting them do half the trip on their own,” he said.
He says on his blog that the kids have been taking the bus to school for the last two years, and that it’s gone “unequivocally well.”
“I’ve happily invested countless hours riding the bus with them, coaching them and answering their questions to ensure they’re capable transit riders,” he writes on his blog.
Crook said the ministry’s decision will impact his family beyond their use of public transit.
“(It’s) a really broad sort of ruling,” he told CTV News Channel. “They can’t even walk to school when they are at their mom’s place a few blocks away from school. It’s been quite a roll-back of freedoms that the kids have thrived under for years now.”
But an anonymous complaint brought Crook’s kids to the attention of the Ministry of Children and Family Development. After an investigation, he was told he could not put them on the bus alone until his oldest turns 12, and none of the children under age 10 can be left unsupervised inside or outside the home for any amount of time.
“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,” he wrote on his blog.
The ministry stood by its decision in a statement to CTV Vancouver. “If social workers determine there is a risk to a child or to children, their first step is to immediately reduce that risk,” the ministry said.
But developmental psychologist Mariana Brussoni says there’s nothing wrong with giving kids a challenge, so long as precautions are taken to ensure their safety.
“The decisions that are being made by social services around what kids are allowed to do aren’t being based on the best available evidence,” she told CTV Vancouver. “There are some efforts that we’ve made to keep them safe that can have the opposite consequence.”
Crook, who does not own a car, says he was choosing a “safe option” by sending his kids to school on the bus.
He now has to ride the bus with them, to and from school.
“I feel bad for their independence being taken away,” he said.
Crook’s GoFundMe page has raised more than $17,000, surpassing his $15,000 goal. He intends to use the funds to challenge the ministry’s ruling. Between private donations and crowdfunding, Crook said he has raised over $20,000 in the last 24 hours.
“I will use the funds from this campaign to launch a legal challenge to protect the rights of responsible parents to choose the transportation method that best fits their family, without interference from the government,” he wrote on the site.
“All the evidence supports bus travel being the safest method of transportation for people of all ages,” he wrote.