Adrian Cooks kids where they are no longer allowed to be without an adult.

Dad Teaches his Kids to Ride the Bus. Then CPS Tells Him They Can’t Even Go Outside Alone till Age 10

Adrian Crook, the dad behind the blog 5Kids1Condo, taught his four oldest kids — 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 Adrian:

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? My guess is 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, 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, when a judge ruled that no child under 10 can stay home alone. As terrible as that decision was, it didn’t even relate. That was about one 8-year-old, home alone, not four kids together, on the bus.

So what?

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.

 

Unt so?

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.”

*The Meitiv family in Maryland had to do the same thing.

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Adrian Cooks kids where they are no longer allowed to be without an adult.

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61 Responses to Dad Teaches his Kids to Ride the Bus. Then CPS Tells Him They Can’t Even Go Outside Alone till Age 10

  1. AmyP September 5, 2017 at 11:57 pm #

    Sorry for going off on a personal rant, but I wanted to share a recent thing that irked me. I have been lucky that I haven’t been bothered much with my free range parenting, but the school called me the other day about how I compromised my sons safety. The kids take the bus to school in the morning, but it didn’t come one morning (he explained that they had a temp driver that day and they forgot my whole neighborhood) so my sister took my son to school. He’s 11 and in middle school. I was at work and she left my 9 year old at home (her bus comes much later) with the two four year olds who were still sleeping. We live about four miles away. We live in Louisiana and while we didn’t get a direct Harvey hit, our town is on several rivers and low lying so we did experience flooding. This caused the drop off line to be longer than usual. Since drop off lines are dumb anyway and she wanted to get back before the nine year missed the bus (she was told not to leave the four year olds alone) she dropped him off at the front of the school and he walked in. So, the assistant principal thought it was in my best interest to inform me how dangerous it is to bypass the drop off line as my son could get hit by a car in the parking lot. I informed him that my son is not a toddler and is quite capable of walking from the front of the school to the door. Then there was some blah blah blah safety message and I thought to ask him about the kids that walk to the school in the first place to which he did not have much of an answer other than to say it is the policy and going forward if he’s dropped off he will need to go through the line. While I’m recounting the phone call to my sister my son is laughing because even he realizes how ridiculous that is. I guess I should be glad nobody knew there were three kids at home by themselves for 15 minutes since that would open up a different can of worms. This whole age thing when determining when to leave kids home alone (mentioned in the article) is insane. It depends is the only correct answer. Depends on the kid and the circumstance. Can we use discretion?

  2. Maggie in VA September 6, 2017 at 12:12 am #

    Wow. I had definitely intended to teach my kids to ride our municipal buses when they were 9 or 10, but now I wonder whether I’ll get a visit from CPS if I do that. I’m already considered a renegade for allowing one of my sons to ride his bike to our local 7-11 at age 7. Except for our street where a hill and the width restricts the cars’ speed, there are sidewalks the whole way, and it’s legal to ride on the sidewalks here, so long as riders observe safety for pedestrians. Our nanny’s mom said, well, the road that leads to the 7-11 is so busy! I replied, but he’s on the sidewalk. Are you afraid that a car will jump the curb and hit him? People are so unaccustomed to seeing kids enjoying the same freedom that they enjoyed as kids that they can’t even think through why they’re afraid.

  3. Carmen September 6, 2017 at 12:13 am #

    As far as I understand, the legal definition of a “child” in Ontario is under 16, but the law only states that the supervision of a child must be “reasonable.” This is to allow for flexibility in parental assessments of an individual child’s abilities. As a child growing up in Ontario, I was left alone for various periods of time from 8 onwards, and babysat from the age of 11. Most kids now start babysitting between 12 and 13. There are babysitting courses that are aimed at kids that age. Surely if it were illegal for children 12 and 13 to babysit–which it must be if it were illegal for them to be alone–then the police would show up at such courses and/or they would not be allowed to offer them to children under 16. My school’s policy is that children can walk to school unattended after kindergarten, which, again, if the restrictive description of Ontario were accurate, wouldn’t we be obligated to walk our children to school until grade 10?

    This brochure from an Ontario town’s Family and Children’s Services seems to back me up here–they recommend that children under 10 not be left alone in the home (implying 10+ is okay) and that responsible children 12+ should be able to babysit. https://www.fcsgw.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Brochure-6-Guidelines-for-Supervising-Children.pdf

    This is not to dispute what the Ministry said to Adrian, but to suggest that they have profoundly misrepresented what the situation in Ontario is. I’m no lawyer, but it seems to me that by defining a child as under the age of 16, all Ontario is really doing is providing a clear definition for any law that uses the word “child” in it. There’s nothing in my experience as a life-long resident of Ontario, nor in what I’ve read or encountered since becoming a parent, to suggest

  4. Carmen September 6, 2017 at 12:16 am #

    (cont)

    that it is either illegal or unexpected for children to undergo a graduated system of increasing independence.

  5. James Pollock September 6, 2017 at 12:19 am #

    If they can’t be alone until they’re 10, and the oldest of the 4 kids on the bus is 11, then…

    Is somebody in this case bad at math? Eh?

  6. Donald September 6, 2017 at 2:05 am #

    I blanket law of 10 years old is not on ridiculous but it’s damaging to treat children as if they all had the same level of mentality/maturity

  7. ChicagoDad September 6, 2017 at 8:25 am #

    Outrageous. All children under 10 in BC are preemprively and indefitely grounded by the Ministry. Mr. Crook should run for office in BC or Vancouver and get legislation passed to fix this.

  8. lollipoplover September 6, 2017 at 8:50 am #

    “[They] stated that the comparatively wide-ranging freedoms we enjoyed in our childhood were, “before we knew better”

    Before we knew how to helicopter parent?

    My daughter is entering her last year of elementary school (6th grade). She has biked herself to and from school with siblings and friends for each year with NO problems. She was even asked to be a line leader to assist younger children to get their transport and she declined…which surprised me. She said it required her to leave her last period 10 min. early and she needed that time to organize what materials she needs to take home, etc.
    In other words, she is showing maturity.
    And she’s 10.

    Arbitrary age restrictions go against basic parenting. We DO know better. This is ridiculous.

  9. pentamom September 6, 2017 at 8:53 am #

    Okay, I’m not entirely sure, but from poking around, it looks like he’s a single father, right?

    Which explains a lot. He’s probably under suspicion by default.

  10. lollipoplover September 6, 2017 at 10:26 am #

    I think the state of Florida has more important things to worry about (like a Category 5 hurricane in it’s path) than to conduct these parenting time trials 1 minute, 15 minutes…turning neighbors into patrols and getting good parents into legal nightmares. Cellphones and caught on tape *evidence* to help judgmental busybodies to achieve moral superiority. Not neighborly at all.

    Florida- make sure you have water and emergency shelters. Get children out of mobile homes and flood zones. Get that right first as a government before legislating parent races in parking lots to beat the CPS buzzer of 60 minutes to return a shopping cart.
    Parent Frogger.

    Stay safe Florida!

  11. lollipoplover September 6, 2017 at 10:28 am #

    Whoops.
    Commented on the wrong thread..need some covfefe.

  12. Helen Armstrong September 6, 2017 at 10:39 am #

    lollipoplover, you’re hilarious! And I love your Parent Frogger analogy – it makes for a great visual!

    I just made a donation to Adrian’s GoFundMe page, and I encourage everybody here to do the same, if you can afford to do so. And remember, your American dollars go further here in Canada!

  13. Theresa Hall September 6, 2017 at 11:02 am #

    Don’t they have better things to do? I don’t know like maybe try to decide what to do about North Korea which has threatening to start a war all this year or maybe help the folks hit by the hurricane. Certainly more useful than fussing about the kids. Or maybe save a kid who in trouble and it’s as plain as the nose on your face they need help.

  14. pentamom September 6, 2017 at 11:48 am #

    BTW, this is another one of those cases with the bizarre use of the word “alone.” They’re not alone. There are four of them. I wonder what they think could happen to four kids or those ages together, watching out for one another, that couldn’t happen or would have a significantly different outcome if an adult were present.

  15. David (Dhewco) September 6, 2017 at 12:16 pm #

    I wonder if this ‘good Samaritan’ (who reported the kids) is one of those adults who are irritated at the sight of kids. The ‘gaggle’ of kids is probably enough to send such a person over the edge. These four reportedly well-behaved kids probably interfered with his space…the bus. It’s all such a person needs. The kids could be sitting quietly with halos over their heads and an angelic glow and this sort of person would have reported them.

    My hometown had and still has a population of around 5k. I went all over that small town from the age of 6-7. Nobody stopped me or interfered. I lived.

  16. AmyO September 6, 2017 at 12:21 pm #

    @pentamom

    Not only are they not alone, they are not unsupervised. The bus drivers know them. The community knows them. The “children” (is 11 really a child???) know how to contact an adult to help.

  17. John B. September 6, 2017 at 12:32 pm #

    Quote: “[They] stated that the comparatively wide-ranging freedoms we enjoyed in our childhood were, ‘before we knew better’”

    “Before we knew better”?? I believe that is 100% opinion based. Perhaps we did know better back then and don’t know any better now!

    But I’m actually surprised that the Ministry of Vancouver determined that children under 10-years-old could not be unsupervised in or outside the home. Considering how over reacting we are nowadays, I’m surprised it wasn’t 16 or even 18. Then again, in Ontario, it’s illegal to allow a 15-year-old kid to be left home alone? That’s absolutely insane!

    Who in the hell makes these rules??

  18. pentamom September 6, 2017 at 12:36 pm #

    Eleven is really a child….but not a baby.

  19. Amy September 6, 2017 at 12:38 pm #

    How is 11 not a child? I think you’re really a kids until 16, when kids start driving, getting part-times job ect.

  20. Aimee September 6, 2017 at 12:41 pm #

    I’m so sorry this dad is experiencing this. I taught my son to ride the bus years ago… and Lenore featured my story:

    http://www.freerangekids.com/the-kid-takes-the-city-bus-and-sparks-a-revolution/

  21. Rae Pica September 6, 2017 at 12:43 pm #

    I just need to say that I am so sick of this crap. In my presentations, I talk about the value of free play and of time outdoors, and of the need for children to take risks. I assure participants that children are every bit as safe today as they were when I was a kid (which was a long time ago!) and that there’s no need to bubblewrap them. But what’s the point? If they happen to believe me and want to do something about it…well, the authorities will just make sure they can’t!

    I don’t know about you, Lenore, but sometimes I just feel like a hamster on a treadmill. 🙁

    (Sorry for the negativity. I’m tired and grouchy today.)

  22. Miriam Drukker September 6, 2017 at 1:14 pm #

    As far as I understand it – It’s not a strict age restriction 16 in Ontario (I live in Ontario).

    Please correct me, but this is the law:
    “No person having charge of a child less than 16 years of age shall leave the child without making provision for his or her supervision and care that is reasonable in the circumstances.”

    I like the words ‘provisions’ ‘reasonable’ and ‘circumstances’. Which means that common sense is tailored into the law.

    What I understand from it is that over 16 – they can be left alone, without any questions asked. And under 16 kids are still considered kids, and the parents are still supposed to make arrangements to make sure that the child is safe.

    What are those arrangements? They are very personal to the parents, the families, the home, the caregivers, the neighbours etc. Basically kids under 16 still need occasional/some supervision and/or guidance and/or be provided with tools/resources that allow them to take care of themselves and/or contact a trustworthy adult / or 911. I think the law is vague on purpose, because each situation is different. Each home is different, each child is different, and each child has different maturity levels and different coping abilities, and those are not constant either – they can fluctuate on a daily basis depending if the child watched a scary movie and is scared to be alone for a couple of weeks, or depending on the season (how much light or darkness there is), how many siblings there are, each day the situation may change as to how far the caregiver is and if there is a backup caregiver (a neighbour), how long they are left alone, do they have a phone or not, do they know how to call the parent (do they know the parents’ number by heart), etc etc etc.

    This sounds sane to me. Heck, I think that we always stay our parents’ babies and even if we can do on our own in the world without our parents – it’s never too late to receive a good advise and guidance, from parents or friends or other wise adults around us. We become wise enough to consult the younger, but still receive advise from the older folks.

    Also, from what I understand, kids can when they are 12 years old, so they must be able to be on their own, if they are allowed to babysit another person when they are 12…

    http://cwrp.ca/sites/default/files/publications/en/144e.pdf
    http://durhamcas.ca/wp-content/uploads/Supervision-Guidelines-revised-2011.pdf
    http://durhamcas.ca/parent-resources/supervision-guidelines/
    https://www.thestar.com/life/parent/2014/08/28/when_can_kids_stay_home_alone.html
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/no-summer-camp-leaving-kids-at-home-1.3483783

    I like the guidelines, because they give a general idea of what is acceptable and what kids are capable of at different ages, and often parents may not know with their first child, and they, themselves learn from their mistakes (just like the kids do).

    Please correct me if I am wrong or misunderstand, because I don’t want to get in trouble…

  23. Gina September 6, 2017 at 1:20 pm #

    He’s just about raised his goal of $15,000…let’s help him out!

  24. Andrew Jones September 6, 2017 at 1:45 pm #

    I was about to send this link to Lenore – as a fellow Scout leader this annoyed me to no end. Not only did they say he can’t do it, but other people *can* until they get called about *their* kids – which is blantant discrimination under the law.

    I’ve always advocated turnabout is fair play – hire a P.I to follow around the ministry employees, and every single time *they* violate the terms they put in place for this father – report them. Keep them busy *literally* chasing their own tails…..

  25. Miriam Drukker September 6, 2017 at 1:45 pm #

    And the saddest thing is that (I have no statistics, but a very strong gut feeling) the kids who really need others to advocate for them, the ones who are abused, they are very very very rarely ‘saved’ by the random “do-gooder”… Partly because they are ‘supervised’ by the abuser,

    Again, no statistics here (except that 93% of alleged perpetrators are known to their child victims https://boostforkids.org/tips/teachers/facts/), but I assume that most abuses/neglects are hidden as much as possible, and the free-rangers are out in the open, as they don’t feel they have anything to hide – they ARE educating their kids, but with a remote control…

  26. SanityAnyone? September 6, 2017 at 2:09 pm #

    This is all such nonsense. It’s making my head hurt.

    I called our local city bus company that travels through the suburbs and into the city. I asked if I could let my 12 year old son ride alone, and they said “why not?” So I asked was there a minimum age to ride alone, and she said “no”. I asked “even my five year old could ride alone?” She told me there was no rule and it was up to my judgement.

    I’m sure that wouldn’t line up with the actual state guidelines, but that was bus company policy.

  27. SanityAnyone? September 6, 2017 at 2:22 pm #

    There is no discretion allowed because of the fear that discretion will lead to discrimination.

    A boy is found with a multi-tool in his bag in 7th grade, the kind that includes a blade for a letter opener. He is suspended for a long period and the police are involved. Parents mount a law suit against school district. They found it when they accidentally searched his backpack and were supposed to be searching someone else’s backpack. It wasn’t even being shown to anyone.

    A child can have suspensions and dealings with police for forgetting to remove a scout knife from his bag. Another child could bring a knife to school intending mischief or harm. I see how it’s hard to create a policy that applies evenly to everyone, but in our school system there are no warnings and no discretion based on if the person is a good, trouble-free kid in the past. They are children. There should be warnings and education at every step unless actual harm is done.

  28. maxine September 6, 2017 at 2:38 pm #

    I taught my daughter to ride the local RTD bus last summer when she was ten. Thankfully no one has said boo and Colorado does not specify an age when kids can be left home alone, though they recommend 12. The idea that children cannot be left unattended for any period of time until they are 10, or 12 or older is absurd.

  29. Jen September 6, 2017 at 2:59 pm #

    British Columbia residents: Please join me in writing to our new Minister of Child and Family Development. She has the power to make positive changes to this culture of legislated helicopter parenting. Katrine.Conroy.MLA@leg.bc.ca

  30. Eric S September 6, 2017 at 3:07 pm #

    So basically, society and authorities are now normalizing that the CPS can dictate how we raise our children???

    I think CPS has more pressing matters with the children they’ve put into the system, and are coming out worse than they entered.

    Short of ACTUAL neglect and endangerment, government, police, and CPS need to stay out of families’ business. Raising our children as we see fit for their well being is the sole job of the parents. No one knows our children better than WE know our children. I’ll be damned if some half ass, non-caring (in the bigger scheme of things) individuals and organizations dictate how I raise my kids, and threaten me with jail time or losing custody. Last I checked, this wasn’t WW2, and this isn’t Nazi Germany.

  31. James Pollock September 6, 2017 at 3:46 pm #

    “Raising our children as we see fit for their well being is the sole job of the parents.”

    No, it isn’t, and never has been.
    Here are several separate lines of argument to reach this conclusion.

    First, the rights argument. Parents have rights to oversee their children as they see fit, BUT children have rights, too. Since children do not have resources to protect their own rights, someone else must “step in” to protect those children whose rights are infringed. Therefore, social forces (i.e., government) may act to protect childrens’ rights.

    Don’t like that one?
    OK, the “might makes right” argument. You have exactly those rights that other people are willing to extend to you. If a guy points a gun at you and demands your wallet or your life, and you choose to lecture him about property rights and your right to life, you’re probably going to lose both your life AND your wallet. Collectively, society is willing to use force to override parenting choices of some parents. If you can stop them from doing it to you, congratulations, you have rights. If you can’t stop them from doing it to you, you don’t.

    Too much of a downer?
    The self-interest argument. I want to raise my kids as I see fit; therefore I enter a contract (of sorts) that I won’t interfere with the way other people raise their kids and they won’t interfere with how I raise mine. My self-interest causes me to rationally decline to interfere with other peoples’ self-interest. But… not all parents are equal. Some are good, some are bad, some are really bad. The really bad parents turn out children that are poorly prepared for adult life in civil society. They’re damaged, and thus incur social costs (they’re criminals, so they steal resources from us directly, or they bleed us of resources because we have to hire police to pursue them and jailers to keep them. If I can reduce the costs of dealing with a future criminal by interceding while he’s still developing criminal ways, that’s a net win for me. My self-interest (I’d rather pay the family services to cut off or limit the downward trend that pay for a lifetime of providing services to that child.

    The bottom line is that claiming to have absolute rights in your children is a losing game. That’s not the way it is, or the way it ever will be, and insisting on pretending that it is is a nonproductive waste of time, mostly your own. It’s like when the sovereign-citizens try to claim that they don’t have to have driver’s licenses because they’re not “driving”, they’re “traveling”, and they have an unlimited right to “travel” as they see fit, and the stupid cops who pulled them over just can’t or won’t understand how freedom works. In reality, the cops tend to win those arguments.

  32. Anna September 6, 2017 at 4:11 pm #

    @James Pollock: “If they can’t be alone until they’re 10, and the oldest of the 4 kids on the bus is 11, then… Is somebody in this case bad at math? Eh?”

    I’m guessing this isn’t about the 11-year-old as such and they wouldn’t have come after the dad for that child travelling alone, but that they don’t consider the 11-year-old able to “babysit” his younger siblings yet, so they are deemed to be completely “unsupervised.’ It seems like that comes up a lot in these cases – parents are not allowed to consider the presence of an older child as a factor that makes a particular joint activity safer unless said child is old enough to officially babysit.

    Which is of course ridiculous. Even the presence of a same-age child makes it safer for kids to do something without their parents, just because they have a buddy who can help out in case of accident, etc. I’d be much more comfortable letting a 7 and 5-year-old walk to school together, than a 7-year-old alone, actually.

  33. Carr September 6, 2017 at 4:46 pm #

    Yeah, no… Ontario has no age limit for kids being on their own. In the Capital we have home-alone and street-smarts courses for 9 to 12 year olds. My 12 year-old’s secondary school refuses school transportation and hands out free city bus passes instead to many of their students.
    I wonder if there is more to the story than this?

  34. Andrew September 6, 2017 at 4:50 pm #

    Carmen in Ontario, you really might wish to read the article again. Adrian and his family live in Vancouver, British Columbia not Ontario so its laws and policies are completely irrelevant. Canada is a big country with a lot of people most of whom don’t live in Ontario.

    All told, a ridiculous situation. I hope the Ministry backs down and lets Adrian continue to raise his kids the way we all know kids should be raised.

  35. Shirley September 6, 2017 at 5:00 pm #

    George Orwell’s “BIG BROTHER” is sounding more realistic. .Stand your ground Free Range parents.

  36. Carr September 6, 2017 at 5:11 pm #

    Andrew read the article; the decision was based on different provinces rules and they mention the age of being ouside alone in Ontario as being 16. In no way did I imply that Canada = Ontario.

  37. Anna September 6, 2017 at 6:16 pm #

    @Andrew: “Carmen in Ontario, you really might wish to read the article again. Adrian and his family live in Vancouver, British Columbia not Ontario so its laws and policies are completely irrelevant. Canada is a big country with a lot of people most of whom don’t live in Ontario.”

    She did read the story – it cited Ontario law. And being Canadian, Carmen is WELL aware that Ontario is not B.C. In fact, a fascinating difference between America and Canada is that, while in American constitutional theory states have theoretical sovereignty and “states’ rights,” Canadian provinces (which have never claimed sovereignty in any way) have far more real-world autonomy, and provincial governments retain near-total control over important areas like education and transportation, which in America have been absorbed by the federal government in all but name. Furthermore, many (most?) Canadians live in one province for their whole life, unlike Americans, who best I can tell, typically bounce from state to state on average 1-
    times over a lifetime. Canadians like Carmen and me are fully aware of what province we live in, thank you very much.

  38. Anna September 6, 2017 at 6:18 pm #

    Oops -meant that to say “10 times in a lifetime.”

  39. Jill R September 6, 2017 at 11:48 pm #

    I was going to make that correction about Ontario, but Carmen beat me to it!
    Here in Ontario, the law has been left vague on purpose, I’m paraphrasing, but it says something like you can’t leave children under 16 alone without making reasonable provisions to ensure safety… so that it’s all on a case by case basis. So the reasonable provisions could be leaving phone numbers for the children to call in case of emergency, checking in periodically with the kids, or going over safety items with the kids before you leave.

  40. Teresa September 7, 2017 at 8:48 am #

    Maggie in VA’s concern is valid. I did get reported for exactly what she’s doing. I eventually decided that other peoples ideas of what’s appropriate weren’t going to be the basis for my decision making. The long term welfare of my children is too important to budge on this.

    Carmen’s interpretation of the Ontario law is correct. I confirmed it with both the Children’s Aid social worker when I was reported and the instructor of my older son’s home alone course. He was just about 8 when I was reported and 9 or 10 when he took that course.

    The discussion in the Facebook comments on the article is, to say the least, lively. The arguments against letting kids ride the bus unaccompanied include not only stranger danger but possible liability/insurance issues for the bus company if something happens to them, and potential for annoying other passengers with bad behaviour. We’re fighting the good fight over there but it’s really quite insane. At least one person considers the dad lazy for not taking the time to go with his kids. I went to town on that guy.

    None of this will stop us from continuing to train our 12 year old on the buses, with the goal of having him getting to and from school independently within the next few weeks.

  41. John B. September 7, 2017 at 10:43 am #

    “As far as I understand, the legal definition of a “child” in Ontario is under 16,”

    @Carmen:

    If I am not mistaken, I believe the legal definition of a “child” in the United States is under 18. This drives me absolutely nuts at times. Especially when people refer to high school students as “children”. You hear this term used quite a bit in cases where a teacher had sex with a 16- or 17-year-old student. I think because it brings more shock value to the story when it says a 32-year-old teacher stands accused of having sex with “children”. I’m certainly not condoning the teacher’s behavior but when I hear the term “children”, I usually think of 6- and 7-year-olds, not 16 or 17. Huge difference.

    It’s especially crazy when you have burly 16- and 17-year-old high school football players and wrestlers, some even with facial hair, who would put ME to shame in the weight room and who could also shove my knee down my throat on a wrestling mat, referred to as “children”! Really??

    As far as I’m concerned, the legal definition of “child” s/b any person under 13. As far as the term we should use for humans aged 13-17, why not “adolescents”?

  42. James Pollock September 7, 2017 at 11:45 am #

    “If I am not mistaken, I believe the legal definition of a ‘child’ in the United States is under 18.”

    That is the definition of “minor”, except in cases involving possession or consumption of alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana, where it sometimes means people under 21, and some archaic works from back when 21 was the age of majority.

    The definition of “child” varies from context to context. For one thing, sometimes “child” means the opposite of “adult”, and sometimes it means the opposite of “parent”. This means that sometimes, in law as in life, there are adult children. But even in the context you meant, the exact definition of “child” sometimes varies.

    ” You hear this term used quite a bit in cases where a teacher had sex with a 16- or 17-year-old student.”
    I think “student” is more common, and the laws that prohibit it include 18-year-olds, too. And sometimes to college kids, too.

    “As far as I’m concerned, the legal definition of “child” s/b any person under 13.”

    Sometimes it is. For example, in the the “Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act”, you get this (15 USC §6501.) “Definitions
    In this chapter:
    (1) Child
    The term ‘child’ means an individual under the age of 13. “

  43. katie September 7, 2017 at 3:37 pm #

    I have been a follower of this guy for awhile. I don’t know him personally, but he seems like an amazing parent. This has to be the worst, craziest, dumbest decision ever. Even the Prime Minister of Canada criticized the decision. Why are these people allowed so much power? Why don’t they go after idiot helicopter parents who text while driving their kids in giant SUVs. Surely that would be a much better use of resources. In fact, this isn’t a use of resources, this is just wasting resources, because kids should be able to ride a bus once they can do it properly. It’s better for their safety then being driven around by some texting SUV driving helicopter parent.

  44. jeffrey2016 September 7, 2017 at 3:50 pm #

    Haha, here in Germany (!) kids have to stand in the school bus. Actually, these are public buses. And I have to say, it’s perfectly safe because you couldn’t fall over if you’re squeezed in there (Experienced it myself as a kid, knew the bus driver very well back then). Jokes aside, you know Germans are kinda obsessed with rules but unsupervised play or going to school alone is normal and no one complains about it. I always thought this was normal everywhere in the world and was shocked when I first saw this.

  45. Rachel September 7, 2017 at 10:39 pm #

    I was babysitting other people’s children at age 12. So were many of my friends.
    There’s no sense to any of this. No data to back up these laws.
    How ridiculous.

  46. lrh September 8, 2017 at 6:52 am #

    I tend to prefer unmoderated discussions, but James Pollack’s presence makes a compelling argument for moderation, and kicking some people out altogether.

  47. meg September 8, 2017 at 9:00 am #

    So this was in The Star this morning: https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2017/09/07/until-what-age-do-kids-need-direct-supervision-well-it-depends-keenan.html. Thought it might be of interest given the ridiculous age cited for Ontario in the original article Lenore cited.

    As Carmen mentioned below, 16 is simply the age until which a child is a “child” and there is no requirement that children under 16 in Ontario be supervised at all times.

  48. New Name September 8, 2017 at 10:11 am #

    “I tend to prefer unmoderated discussions, but…”

    but you’d prefer ones where anyone who might disagree with you is filtered out even more?

  49. Joe Hatch September 8, 2017 at 10:39 am #

    I am sure that the child welfare folks would tell me that I have no valid input into commenting on child care issues, but I will comment anyway. I am a planner and have a responsibility to enforce zoning regulations. However, I do attempt to use common sense in doing so. Not only do those child welfare officials lack common sense, they are operating in a self-contained I am superior environment. Maybe they were raised by parents that controlled their every action, and do not understand anything different. If so, I pity them, and can see how they think they grew up well prepared for adulthood and the rearing of children. However, I totally disagree with their thinking. Let kids be kids is my belief.
    I do believe that parents have a responsibility to teach their children right from wrong, and it is my belief that is where child rearing by parents is frequently wrong. The mantra that boys will be boys and girls will be girls in given by way too many parents as an excuse for their kids behavior. It certainly has happened with electing Donald Trump as the U.S. President. There is no excuse for his sexist, beat them up attitude. It is as a youth that parents should teach appropriate behavior, but society has rationalized certain behavior as acceptable, a rite of growing up. Bull. It should be no more acceptable to throw toilet paper into trees, or become a regular consumer of alcoholic drinks long before legal age, than it is to shot someone just because they made you angry.
    I feel sorry for kids who are not allowed to learn on their own, and the associated thinking that it is a parent’s fault when something happens to a child. I know this sounds like I am arguing contradictory beliefs, but I’m not. Say a parent is walking with a child and the child goes onto a street and gets hit by a car. The parent should not be the target of blame. That parent will have more than enough guilt to deal with without receiving hostile commentary on their parenting. That became one of unlimited teaching moments that a parent has in raising a child. And while you teach your children that every action has consequences, a parent should not be expected to be in control of all those actions. And parents, as their children grow into adulthood, should allow their grown children to experience consequences as they should have been warned would happen as they grew up. I don’t know how a child that grows up with a parent always overseeing their behavior will learn how to independently make decisions that they will call their on. So I pity the 8, 9 and 10 year olds that do not get to experience decision making that years later they will wonder how they did something stupid. I remember being 10 or 11 and deciding with a couple of friends that we would have boxing matches, of which we may have thrown a few punches but little else occurred. Years later I wonder about why in the world would I think that such behavior was something I should be doing. I know that if our parents had been watching we would have been stopped with threats of making us go home or worse. Never-the-less it is a memory I have and an independent learning experience.
    So kids do crazy things and they learn from them. At least that is how I believe that growing up should happen. Tell these child welfare experts to get a real life, and fend for children actually be abused.

  50. MonicaP September 8, 2017 at 3:58 pm #

    Not really surprised here. Child Welfare told me I can’t let my 4-1.2-year-old play directly in front of my house while I am on my porch. I need to be standing directly next to her in case a car jumps the curb.

  51. Anna September 8, 2017 at 4:38 pm #

    “Not really surprised here. Child Welfare told me I can’t let my 4-1.2-year-old play directly in front of my house while I am on my porch. I need to be standing directly next to her in case a car jumps the curb.”

    Ah, yes – because a child hit by a car simultaneously with a parent is so much safer, right? Gotta love that reasoning.

  52. Beth September 9, 2017 at 11:16 am #

    The point isn’t that the information given about Ontario is wrong. The point is that the Ministry gave the OP that incorrect information, at least the way that I’m reading the article. They’re the ones that are being untruthful, not the OP.

  53. Buffy September 9, 2017 at 11:20 am #

    “I tend to prefer unmoderated discussions, but James Pollack’s presence makes a compelling argument for moderation, and kicking some people out altogether.”

    This has nothing to do with moderating out people who disagree, but moderating out clear trolls who denigrate other people’s opinions, know everything about everything and delight in their professorial takedowns, and always present the alternate viewpoint in order to stir things up and prove how horribly wrong the rest of the world is.

    There are many message boards with character limits and # of posts per thread limits. FRK needs that since it/she is unwilling to ban this troll.

  54. New Name September 9, 2017 at 12:16 pm #

    “This has nothing to do with moderating out people who disagree […] FRK needs that since it/she is unwilling to ban this troll”

  55. Heartfruit September 11, 2017 at 7:10 pm #

    This story struck me as bazzar to say the least. Especially the claim that children under 16 can’t be alone in Ontario. The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) only provides bussing up to grade 5 (age 10). After that kids are expected to take the city buses to and from school.

  56. Pete September 12, 2017 at 8:06 pm #

    Well, if the government takes them away, at least they know how to take the bus, so they can return every day to the parents that love them and prepare them to live in the real world.

  57. Mike Tang September 13, 2017 at 9:53 pm #

    I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to respond to the regular haters: James Pollock, Dienne, and Donna that I have to do it here.

    Collectively these three seem to be helicopters masquerading as free-range parents.

    An 8 year old can’t be outside alone walking, but a 16 year old would be OK? Where do you draw the line, Dienne/Donna? Is 10 not OK? What about 12? Everyone’s going to be different. Judging /convicting other parents on your own standards is downright oppressive. In fact, not allowing kids to go out and play / exercise after dinner hours is the whole reason this generation has gotten so fat and unhealthy. Congratulations, your kids are now more at risk of heart disease and stroke for the rest of their lives. You’re now guilty of endangering your children and need parenting classes. Touche, assholes!

    Now for James Pollock’s comment on what is justifiable or not justifiable.

    Yes, sometimes violence in self defense is justifiable. But here’s the kicker, Mr. Legal Expert, I only have to justify something if I have committed a crime and allowing a child to walk home (whether you disagree with the punishment or not) is not a crime, so why the hell do I have to justify it? Do I need to approval of Mr. Legal Expert every time my kid goes to the shitter by himself too? Or do I have to justify it? “He needed to go real bad, he ate some day-old pizza, please let him go.” Or “he’s already off the obesity charts, please let him go for a run after dinner.” Now apply the same thinking to obscure/unusual punishment and you probably STILL won’t see my point, so I guess any and all punishments not condoned and signed off by Mr. James Pollock–such as making him do push-ups, making him wash my car (outside alone), making him mow the lawn (so many dangers there), making him walk to school by himself (which is fine by you, but as soon as I make it a punishment….).

    So here you go James Pollock, this weekend I’m punishing my kids by making them eat unhealthy Happy Meals, for no fucking reason at all, just because I fucking felt like it. And I’m going to follow that up with dropping them off at the park to play unsupervised. And to top it all off, I might even let them light their own fucking birthday candle this year. Have a ball with that scenario.

  58. New Name September 14, 2017 at 3:09 am #

    “Collectively these three seem to be helicopters masquerading as free-range parents.”
    Your assessment, as always, is humorously wide of the mark.
    Please allow me to counter as follows.
    You screwed up.
    You got caught.
    Your ego won’t let you admit you were wrong. No, it must be some giant conspiracy against you. They’re all out to get you. The judge was corrupt, the jury was biased, anyone who criticizes you is in on it.
    Your ability to rationalize and self-delude is truly epic, nearly Trumpian in scale and grandeur. But whereas Mr. Trump still has (sigh) three and half more years to entertain us, your 15 minutes are pretty much up.

    You, sir, and ONLY you, are to blame for your troubles. Lashing out at other people just reveals you to be the insecure, petulant man-child you’re accused of being.

    Be a man, learn from your mistake(s), and move on. Or choose to continue acting like an insecure, petulant man-child– that’s worked out for you pretty well, right? Totally your call, and none of my business which way you choose to go, really.

    “I only have to justify something if I have committed a crime”
    You ARE a convicted criminal, are you not? The state’s attorney proved you committed a crime, beyond a shadow of a doubt, to a jury of your peers? That happened, right? You were there? Well, perhaps had you even TRIED to justify yourself, you wouldn’t have been convicted. Then again, if you didn’t respond to anyone questioning your authority like a two-year-old denied his favorite toy, you probably wouldn’t have even been in a position to be arrested in the first place.

    “allowing a child to walk home (whether you disagree with the punishment or not) is not a crime”
    True. Which is why none of the parents, in all of California, who just allowed their children to walk home, were arrested, charged, tried, or convicted for doing so. Approximately exactly 0 people, total, have been convicted of a crime for “allowing a child to walk home”.

    “Now apply the same thinking to obscure/unusual punishment and you probably STILL won’t see my point”
    Go ahead and get one, and we’ll see.

    “So here you go James Pollock, this weekend I’m punishing my kids by making them eat unhealthy Happy Meals, for no fucking reason at all, just because I fucking felt like it. And I’m going to follow that up with dropping them off at the park to play unsupervised. And to top it all off, I might even let them light their own fucking birthday candle this year. ”
    K. Then maybe swing by the probation office, and put in some of those community service hours you owe the good people of the great state of California.
    And the reason why anyone, anyone at all, should give two roach burps in a hurricane about what you do is… what, exactly?

    (BTW: Do you fucking think that fucking using fucking profanity fucking makes you fucking sound more fucking grown-up? Fucking? Fucking fucking fucking! And also, fucking. Fucking, fucking. Fucking.)

  59. Mike Tang September 15, 2017 at 7:34 pm #

    @New Name (or Afraid to Write His Name)

    “Lashing out at other people just reveals you to be the insecure, petulant man-child you’re accused of being.”

    Really? And what do you call sticking your nose in other people’s business? Or forcing other parents to live by your standards? I’m not lashing out. I was minding my own business. And had my rights taken wrongfully taken away by a knee-jerk lib-tard who worships CA authoritarianism. Of course I’m insecure, the cops and justice system failed me. They basically said “we can arrest and convict you simply for doing something we do not LIKE.” It doesn’t have to be dangerous, we just have to make it sound dangerous and unreasonable. If that sits well with you, then go ahead and laugh. You’re probably OK with cops shooting innocent people running away too, because the the law says this this this and James Pollock’s analysis says that that that…and words have made more sense coming out of a big flapping vagina, but nooo…I’m a man-child, you just have a perverse fetish for authority and watching them crush the rights of parents. Oh yeah, that makes you a big manly man, and such a free range parent! That free-range being the 100-sq-ft bedroom your child spent his/her life imprisoned in.

    “Which is why none of the parents, in all of California, who just allowed their children to walk home, were arrested, charged, tried, or convicted for doing so.”

    Except I was just convicted for doing so. Read the fucking fucking fucking fucking article, you delusional acid-tripping Apache helicopter. I was not convicted of “emotional abuse.” I was not convicted of any kind of other “gross misconduct” or being a jerk. I trusted the system to uphold my rights, but apparently that doesn’t work when the system is compromised by moronic self-validating payloads like yourself who get a hard-on seeing others suffer.

    ” if you didn’t respond to anyone questioning your authority like a two-year-old denied his favorite toy, you probably wouldn’t have even been in a position to be arrested in the first place.”

    My response is not a crime. I don’t care if my response was telling the officer to bend over for James Pollock. They do not have a right to approach me or question me or investigate me without any kind of crime being committed. As much as I’d like to, I can’t just call up your city’s PD and say “I saw James Pollock walking on the sidewalk at 8pm,” and cause you to go to jail for simply reporting something.

    “And the reason why anyone, anyone at all, should give two roach burps in a hurricane about what you do is… what, exactly?”

    Good question. You can answer that yourself since you seem to be the one who always gets the most riled up anytime I post something encouraging parents to stand up for their rights against a corrupt and self-serving government. You think the cops really cared about my kid? Or do you think they just wanted to get a conviction for the city ($$)? The walk home would’ve taken 20 minutes tops. My kid was in the cop car for 90 minutes of interrogation, and further interrogated after he was sent home. Of course James Pollock doesn’t care that the judge wouldn’t let me say that. Of course James Pollock doesn’t care because a jury has already convicted someone and the jury is always the brightest group of people in his world. If you don’t care, then please stop responding to me and pretending that you do. It won’t change me, or my defiance of CA and I will die before I spend one second doing community service. Drastic? Maybe. But I’d rather be a martyr, albeit a nasty one, than James Pollock’s quintessential “manly-man” who just bends over and takes one up the asshole from CA simply because 12 people convicted him for “being a jerk” like you said.

    In this world, right is right and wrong is wrong. Despite this, some good people get convicted and some innocent people slip by. Standing up for myself is not unmanly or wrong. Go waste your time convincing others that taking up the ass like a scared little girl, like you suggested, is the right thing to do.

    Perhaps Rosa Parks should’ve just quietly moved to the back of the bus and not started a fuss. Perhaps Martin Luther King would have lived longer if he didn’t fight back against injustice. But not in James Pollock’s bible, no sir, you just keep bending over until CA makes it illegal to take a shit without raising your hand for permission. But you’re lucky there are people like me who will stop that from becoming a reality. Your kids and grandkids will thank me even though you won’t. History always favors the bold. And change never occurs until someone challenges the system. Oh well, even though I’m a “criminal” now, at least I stand for something. Now go whimper back to your master and tell CA that I would rather cut off my own arms and legs than do a second of community service. Let’s see how far this goes–because I’m not afraid.

  60. James Pollock September 16, 2017 at 12:10 am #

    “Lashing out at other people just reveals you to be the insecure, petulant man-child you’re accused of being.”

    Perhaps I wasn’t specific enough. Lashing out at me, a person who had nothing to do with your crime, or your state’s reaction to it, reveals you to be the insecure, petulant man-child you’re accused of being.

    (PS: Is your sudden fascination with being anally raped related to the possibility of jail time? Because surely a total stud manly-man such as yourself need not fear… I mean, once you tell the other inmates you’re in jail for terrorizing a small boy, surely they’ll cower in fear of your MASSIVE manhood.)

    I said before:
    “Please allow me to counter as follows.
    You screwed up. You got caught. Your ego won’t let you admit you were wrong.”
    This remains true, but now that interesting Messiah complex subplot has returned. Do tell me more about how you and Dr. King are going to lead us all into the promised land where parents can terrorize their children with impunity.

    “History always favors the bold”
    That’s what General Custer thought, too. CHARGE!

  61. Mike Tang September 18, 2017 at 5:10 pm #

    “Lashing out at me, a person who had nothing to do with your crime, or your state’s reaction to it”

    Since when did I start lashing out at you. It has been your promotion of anti-free-range thought on a free range website that caused me to lash out at you. Why don’t you spend your time on a movie critique website saying you hate movies? Or go to a Trump bashing website and tell them how much you preferred Clinton? You clearly don’t agree with the contents and articles here, so spending your time here makes you a troll.

    Let me counter by this:

    I didn’t screwed up. I got caught doing something the police (and people of the general public) didn’t agree with, but not illegal. My ego won’t let me take the easy way out because I was taught to stand up for myself when I am wronged.

    “Do tell me more about how you and Dr. King are going to lead us all into the promised land where parents can terrorize their children with impunity.”

    If you think an 8 year old walking outside in his own neighborhood alone = terrorizing, then you clearly have do have manhood issues and no amount of legal argument short of your own perverse fetish of seeing I get punished will suffice here. Sorry your family had to live in a bubble of your own warped paranoia because of your fears. Are you really just on here to be a troll or to validate your own parental shortcomings and wishing you could do it over again more like me?

    I for certain, do not spend a good part of my life constantly trolling website articles I don’t agree with and try to convert them to agree with me. Try barking up a different tree for a change and you might find there are still people in this world who agree with you.