- Family and Parenting
Latchkey Kids Safety Tips
The term latchkey kids has been around since just after World War II. During wartime, many wives of the men in service had to work outside the home to make ends meet, leaving children at home alone after school let out for the day. The kids were given keys on strings or chains to wear around their necks, or hid near the home in a safe place so children could let themselves in.
Many children today come from single parent homes or have two parents that must work to keep bills paid. Latchkey kids have their share of problems, depending on developmental age. Older children may try pushing the realms of authority, while younger kids may suffer from loneliness, boredom, and fear.
Self Confident Kids
Latchkey kids have more self confidence and tend to be more independent than those who have adult supervision at all times. Increased independence comes with a negative side as these kids are subject to more accidents and delinquent behavior.
Children that are left home alone for even short periods of time need to have set limits and boundaries. Many schools and local agencies have after school and summer programs available for kids of all age groups and is a good alternative for leaving children at home alone.
When children and parents have no choice but for the child to be left unattended, it is important to have a dependable and reliable phone contact that lives nearby in case of an emergency. Educate and teach children things that they need to be aware of before allowing them to stay by themselves. Make sure that children know their own phone number and address, and can state it correctly.
Contact an Adult When Home Safely
Children should check in with a responsible adult or parent upon safely getting home and inside the house. If they arrive to find a broken window or door ajar they should not go into the house alone. Give children instructions on how to handle this type of situation.
Kids who walk or ride a bicycle home need to be made aware of the danger of strangers and what to do if approached by someone they don't know. Instruct them to run to the nearest public area or safe house if they feel that they are being followed.
While no parent wants to leave their children home alone and unsupervised, many have no other choice. No matter what the reasons for leaving them alone, always be sure that they are old enough and responsible enough to be left unsupervised.
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