Thursday, November 4, 2010

Latchkey children...a growing trend

Today's generation of children grow up much faster than past generations.  Children experience life quicker than ever before and are "forced" out of their childhood.  At our school we have several 9 year old children who go home to an empty house.  These children are labeled a "latchkey child".
What's a latchkey child?
Latchkey child was a term coined to describe children who wore or carried house keys to school so that they could let themselves into their home when they returned from school. Those children were at home without adult supervision until their parents returned from work, school, or other occupations away from home. Ohio, like many other states, does not specify an age at which neglect begins when a child is left alone at home.
What are the effects?
 Many children do not have the emotional development to understand what they are feeling but the emotion is abandonment. Some types of behavior problems can result from this feeling of abandonment include the following:
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • anger
  • social withdrawal
  • jealousy of kids who have a mom waiting for them
  • resentment
  • poor academic performance in school
  • below average ability to adapt
  • poor social relationships at school
  • maltreatment of pets
  • fighting at school or neighbor children
  • low appetite
  • abnormal consumption of sweets
  • addiction to video games
  • behavior problems with brothers or sisters
  • above average amount of bodily injuries for a child in his or her age group
  • poor personal hygiene
  • destroying their own toys
  • failure or inability to integrate with peers on age expected basis
  • the appearance of emotional starvation and vacancy
  • problems with concentration
 Latchkey Kid Statistics
In the United States, a 2002 Census survey reported 5.8 million (15%) of all children between the ages of five and fourteen years living with a mother, care for themselves an average of 6.3 hours per week and 65% of those children spent between 2–9 hours home alone (Source: Wikipedia


  1. It is a sad reality that many children are home alone after school. It seems there should be an age limit set by the state. If it's a short amount of time and the child or children are of a certain age, then it seems reasonable for working parents or a working parent to have to do this. There used to be a time when you could trust your neighbors, but that time is gone.

  2. It is very sad that some of our students are living this reality. It does seem like there should be an age limit. This just proves the necessity of school counselors in our buildings everyday. It seems that it may help them cope with these feelings and help them be successful in and outside of the classroom.

  3. I have high students who are not only latchkey children, but are living with a parent's boyfriend/girlfriend and his/her children. They describe feelings of never having a place to call home and are concerned that they may become homeless should the parent's relationship end.

  4. Please permit me to reword my first sentence to read: "I have high school students who..." Sorry for the word omission, Jason.

  5. This is sad a situation, but you also have to remember that most of these kids are growing up in a single parent home. Someone has to make the money to pay the bills.

  6. I was a latchkey kid before it was cool in the 70s. There was a massive stigma attached to it because women weren't in the workforce as heavily as today. Most Moms were stay at home Moms. So if you didn't have a Mom at home, well you really felt deprived and also many of the things you described I can attest to. Nowadays a person at home, either parent would be rare I imagine. It takes two incomes just to get by.

  7. it may be sad that a lot of kids are left alone so there parents can work but well I too was a latchkey kid too and well it was that way from the age of?tell I was 18ten and I realy don't think I was up set so much as other kids where of me since well if I need some thing I could always go to next store or friends house to get what I need since well there parents always had knowed as to why I was left home alone now my best friends bothersand sisters may not have understandit or liked it becase I was getting some help thay did not get from there parents or even it mayhave been thay did not like it becase at a very young age I could do more then thay could at the time thay could not do 1/2 the things I could do but well hay that's life but yes I must say it was cool in the 70's as well as the 80's to have been a latchkey kid not any thing like it is now days if you where to even let your kids be by them sel;f's for one min. there would be some one calling in on you for just going next store or even just taking a walk a round the block to me and for me its realy sad that well some parents cant understand the latckey program for that kids that are latchkey kids.