10 Studies About Latchkey Kids and the Impact on Their Lives

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For many families, it’s an economic necessity that both parents work. This often means that kids wind up spending part of their day apart from adult supervision. When they get home from school, the house is empty. These are known as latchkey kids, and they’re the subject of today’s list. We’re going to look at ten studies about latchkey kids and its impact on their lives:

  1. Latch Key Children by Frances Kemper Alston – This study points out a statistic that one-third of all complaints to child welfare agencies involve latchkey kids, and that 51% of latchkey kids are doing poorly in school. According to one source cited, 8th graders who spend at l1 hours per week alone are twice as likely to abuse drugs as those who are kept busy after school.
  2. Latchkey Children by Ellen B. Gray – Provided for perspective, this earlier study from 1987 is largely inconclusive about the effects on latchkey kids of being left to self-care. The number of children who are currently latchkey kids is far higher, and the opinions have since gelled into a clearer picture through more recent studies.
  3. Programs, Problems and Policies: A Study of Latchkey Children in Ohio Public Libraries - This study addresses the specific issue of parents in Ohio who availed themselves and their children of the accommodations of their public libraries as a place for their kids to spend their time while the parents were at work. It collected data on the policies, if any, of each of 52 libraries regarding this trend.
  4. Latchkey Kids More Likely To Be ObeseThis study published in the journal Child Development makes a direct correlation between children’s weight and the number of hours their mothers work. According to the study, every six months that mothers worked translated to an additional 1 lb. of  body weight for each of their kids.
  5. Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station (AAES) – In a study from 1992, it was determined that communication between parent and child was an important factor in maintaining a happy and healthy latchkey life for the child. Another element which contributed to the child’s adaptability was his level of involvement in making family decisions.
  6. Latchkey Kids by the William Gladden Foundation – The research for this paper was done in 2005, and it includes some helpful lists such as behavioral indicators which signify self-reliance, a safety checklist for latchkey kids, and suggestions for parenting them.
  7. Taking Action for Latchkey Children and Their Families by Bryan E. Robinson, Bobbie H. Rowland and Mick Coleman – A summary of research findings regarding latchkey kids and their families; suggestions for how to successfully parent latchkey children and programs that can assist in facilitating its success.
  8. The Effect of a Latchkey Situation on a Child’s Educational Success by Elza Venter and Eunice Rambau – A study published in the South African Journal of Education concludes that children under the age of 13 who spend time at home alone on a regular basis may be at risk for behavioral, social and developmental problems, or injury. Also, substandard academic problems could arise as a result.
  9. Latchkey Children StateUniversity.comA summary of  research data collected through various studies and surveys conducted from the late 1980′s through 2000. Its findings suggest that the effects of self-care on latchkey kids is dependent on separate conditions such as family conditions, the child’s individual characteristics, as well as the type and amount of time spent in self-care.
  10. America After 3 PM: A Household Survey on After-school in AmericaPublished by the After School Alliance, this study reveals that there are 15 million youth in America in need of after-school programs, who instead spend their after-school hours in self-care. Only 6 percent of middle schoolers are in such programs while 34 percent are unsupervised.
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