Latchkey Children

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A latchkey kid or latchkey child is a child that comes home from school every day or most days without a parent being home because the parent or both parents are working. This term “latchkey” specifically refers to a lock on a door and was coined in 1944 after an NBC documentary was made on this occurrence of children forced to live in this manner during and after the second World War, when ‘Dad’ enlisted and ‘Mom’ had to go find work (Mertens 57-61). The term might not be used as loosely as it was back then, but ‘latchkey children’ still exist today. Although unsupervised children can potentially cause harm to other children, and have long lasting effects towards how authority will handle these young people once they are older, there are plenty of afterschool programs available and ways to keep these latchkey kids off of the streets during afterschool time while parents are away at work.
The issue arises here: With an overall increase in unemployment, coupled with a decrease of higher paying vocations, the gap between the working poor and middle-to-upper class is ever expanding (Collins 1). The minimum wage rate is rising, as is the cost of living. Therefore, it is almost impossible for parents to watch their kids during afterschool hours when they are obligated to work, the cost of living has gone up a great deal, and there are very few places where free afterschool programs are held. Obviously if there are issues with two parents working, then there are issues with children growing up in single parent homes. Studies have shown that "Among the 22 percent of working poor families headed by single mothers who paid for child care, 40 percent spent at least half of their cash income on child care, and another 25 percent spent 40 to 50 percent" ("That 's a family!"). As mentioned earlier, there is no lack of single parent homes in the United States. When given the option to either spend half their wages on childcare, versus having the kids stay home alone (often



References: Alston, F. (2010). NYU child study center. Latchkey children. Retrieved from internet. Collins, J. (2006). Latchkey kids: an American epidemic. Journal of sociology. Retrieved from EBSCOhost. Dowd, F. (1991) Latchkey children in the library and community: issues, strategies and programs. Phoenix, Oryx Press. Mertens, B. (2003). Should middle school students be left alone after school? Middle school journal 5:57-61. Safe and Smart (1998). Making afterschool hours work for kids. That 's a family!: Statistics on US Families. Women 's Educational Media. Accessed May 7, 2012. Tucker, J. (2006). "Latchkey teenagers more prone to crime." Oakland Tribune 21 June, 2006.

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