Dad Is Livid After Being Told His Kids Are 'Too Young' to Ride the Bus to School

adrian crook
adriancrook/Instagram

Adrian Crook is a single dad of five kids ages 5 to 11. The family lives in Vancouver. In planning for another busy school year, Crook had an idea. He thought allowing his four oldest children -- ages 7–11 -- to take the public bus to school while he took the youngest to preschool would help them all have a calmer morning. But according to Crook, the Ministry of Children and Family Development saw his life hack as a parenting no-no, and told Crook the kids are "too young" to ride the bus alone.

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Crook prides himself on a minimalist lifestyle, and blogs about the experience of raising children with less attachment to physical things at 5 Kids 1 Condo. The family has been without a car for over two years and the children are comfortable and familiar with riding the bus.

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Still, Crook didn't send them off on the first day of school with a bus map and a "Good luck!" The bus stop is right outside the family home and the ride to school takes 45 minutes. Over time Crook has gradually lengthened the amount of time his eldest kids have been on the bus alone until they've successfully been able to handle the trip without him. 

adrian crook
adriancrook/Instagram

There have been a few small hiccups. Once the children got off the bus too early, but Crook located them quickly through their cell phone GPS. Another time a cell phone was lost, but then again, adults lose their phones too.

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Crook says the children made friends with the bus driver and that he received an email from a fellow rider complimenting the children on their bus manners. 

But shortly after the school year began, the Ministry of Children and Family Development (which is similar to the US's Child Protective Services) told Crook it had received an anonymous complaint about the children being unsupervised on the bus, and an investigation was launched. Crook says officials visited his home and conducted interviews with him and each child individually to assess the situation. Crook claims he complied with all the Ministry requests and provided proof that his children had been taking the bus alone for some time and were comfortable with their routine. 

kids walking along bridge
adriancrook/Instagram

Still, he lost the hearing. He was told that until his oldest child turns 12 next summer and can legally claim responsibility for the others, Crook will have to figure out a way to have an adult accompany all five kids to school. 

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Not all parents would feel confident letting their kids ride solo to school on public transport. My twin 4-year-olds are taking the school bus home from preschool and I'm having all the feelings about that, so I struggle to imagine putting them on a city bus with grown strangers. 

So far, Crook has gotten nothing but support for his choice to teach his kids a lesson in independence. Many are sharing their own stories of riding public transit or playing unsupervised as kids. "So crazy that you had to go through all that," writes a reader on Crook's blog. "I've been taking public transit since I was nine. I can't believe that it's 'illegal' for a child to be on the bus on their own at that age."

Luckily for Crook and his kids, it's less than a year before his oldest can step up and stand in as supervisor for his younger siblings. But this family situation still raises a good question about how young is too young to ride the bus alone.

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