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The cause, effect and solution of Latch Key children.

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The cause, effect and solution of Latch Key children.

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  • October 11, 2005
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America's Middle School Latchkey Children.

Children who stay home alone, either for a few hours after school during the

school year or for the summer months, are commonly referred to as "latchkey children."

The phrase "latchkey" originates from the early 19th century, when children in a similar

situation would wear the key to their home tied to a string they wore around their neck

and were responsible for their own care.

Families living on one income is a rarity, making it almost unperceivable to think

of a parent being home on a daily basis to greet their child when he/she comes home from

school. The birth of the two income household was the beginning of the Latch Key Kid.

Many parents are forced into this situation due to various reasons. One of the most

common reasons is when a child becomes too old for a babysitter, usually when they

become a preteen.

According to the After school Alliance's recent study 14.3 million children

(4 million of them being in middle school) head home after school each day to empty

houses. Our elementary schools are great about providing after school programs for

their students, and there are always day cares willing to get children off he bus and take

care of them until parents arrive. But, what about the middle school children, those

children in grades 6th-8th ages 10 - 14? When school is out many of them go home to

an empty house, fix a snack and then "veg out".

The hours between 3-6pm. on school days (referred to by law enforcement

officials as a "danger zone") juvenile crimes are most likely to take place as well as

children are most likely to become victims of violent crime, be involved in all kind of

accidents, experiment with drugs or alcohol, and become pregnant. According to the

website After-School All-Stars a disconnected community is in jeopardy of becoming

an unsafe community. Criminologist Robert J. Sampson aserts, communities

characterized by...