How are we supposed to get our kids to school safely?
Ryan and Roxanna Froese and their four children hiked Elk Lakes this summer. (Submitted Photo - @intherivervalley)
According to recent headlines, letting your kids walk to school on their own puts them in harm’s way.
Allowing them to take public transit is even worse and driving them to school has been flagged as the most dangerous option of all, as stated in a recently-released survey. So how are we supposed to get our kids from point A to point B without bubble-wrapping and hand-holding every step of the way?
While research shows parents most fear their child will be hit by a car or kidnapped if they walk to school alone, they are at greater risk of injury by being in a car. In a recent article published in the Vancouver Sun, Dr. Mariana Brussoni, a B.C. Children’s Hospital and University of B.C. researcher states, “Paradoxically, parents don’t realize that putting a child in a car and driving to school actually puts them at greater risk of injury.” She also notes that kidnappings are incredibly rare, with a one in 14 million chance of occurrence, and that the rewards far outweigh the risks when it comes to allowing your child to walk to school alone or in small groups - as long as they’re properly prepared.
Adrian Crook, a Vancouver father of five and writer behind the popular blog 5kids1condo, was recently reported to the Ministry of Children and Family Development after a stranger spotted his oldest children (aged 7, 8, 9, and 11), riding public transit to school without adult supervision. While he had taken all of the appropriate precautions - including equipping his children with GPS-trackable cell phones, and spending over two years teaching them how to take the city bus to and from school - the busybody’s unwarranted call further emphasized the factless biases that riddle the world of parenting today. It also showed how detrimental an accusatory call can be to a family. Crook’s goal was to raise capable, independent humans who prioritize sustainability and safety above the perceived convenience of cars. In doing so, his children’s rights to ride the bus independently have been revoked.
Crook has since launched a GoFundMe to raise funds to legally defend responsible kids of all ages to take public transit on their own, highlighting bus transportation as the safest mode of daily travel. So far he has raised over $19,000 - exceeding his goal amount of $15,000.
Not only are the injury risks substantially higher for drivers and their passengers, but there has been a substantial increase in hostile and aggressive behaviours in school zones according to a survey conducted by the BCAA, creating a dangerous environment for school-aged kids.
So if our kids can’t walk, bus, or get a ride to school, what are busy parents to do?
If you feel they’re ready, encourage your children to walk to school. Support the legal battle to allow responsible kids to take transit, and most importantly, mind your own business. Parents know what’s best for their children, so unless you see a child being harmed, keep your opinions to yourself.