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Latchkey kids

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Updated: 4/11/2007 5:45 pm
Some children these days are 'latchkey' (LATCH-kee) children. Their parents work outside the home, so they must spend all or part of the day unsupervised. The term 'latchkey' originated from the early nineteenth century, when children who were responsible for their own care would wear their house key tied to a string around their neck. Because latchkey kids have more time away from parents or other adult supervision, they're more likely to be part of a stronger peer culture and be subject to those influences, which aren't always healthy ones. Research shows that latchkey kids are more likely to experiment with alcohol and illegal drugs, as well as smoke cigarettes. You may want to consider making other arrangements for child care, such as having your child go to a friend's or relative's home, instead of being home alone. Parents in a particular neighborhood or school may wish to organize and plan ways to prevent their kids from being home alone. Various agencies and institutions are probably available in your community to assist you. If your child must get home before you do, be sure to set some rules and guidelines. Also, make sure doors and windows are locked, and post emergency phone numbers, as well as numbers of a trusted neighbor or friend, who also should have an extra key.
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