Latchkey children came into being in the 1940s but they are still a growing phenomenon globally. It is difficult to estimate how many children are being subjected to it.
The term self-care is also described to explain the latchkey phenomenon. Latchkey kids are kids between the ages of 5 to 13 years who take care of themselves during or after school hours regularly without adult supervision.
With working parents or single parents, children are sometimes left alone at home to spend a large amount of time. The term latchkey kids was first used in 1940 during World War II when women were working and men were deployed. There was no option for the mothers left to avoid this situation.
The increasing number of women labor and single parent who work hard to maintain their household may be a factor contributing to the growth of this phenomenon. Children are affected by the latchkey situations and their relationship with their parents, peer and educators also got affected adversely.
The effects of latchkey status on the normal development of children are poorly addressed in the literature throughout the past year. The latchkey situation puts the children under long-term symptoms which are overlooked throughout their life.
Let us discuss a few of the overlooked symptoms to put an emphasis on the importance of dealing with these symptoms.
Some latchkey children develop an unhealthy relationship with the self. There are greater chances for them to experience a high incidence of fear, loneliness, stress and depression when left alone at home. A number of children felt unhappy and frightened, that’s the reason why few researchers coined the term latchkey syndrome when addressing the effects of latchkey situations on children.
The latchkey children faced the fear of an encounter with an intruder when their parents are not coming home on time. Some researchers use the term semi-chronic problems for negative feelings such as depression academic failure and isolation.
In some cases, these children show symptoms of aggression and delinquency throughout their life.
The latchkey situation shows early onset of symptoms of exposure to drugs and sexual involvement. Peer pressure, poor relationships with siblings, parents and educators make those children experiment drugs. When children stayed home unattended for a longer period of time they invite their friends to go to their friend’s house.
They are then more likely to abuse alcohol, marijuana, tobacco or involved in sexual abuse. These behavioral problems result from the peer pressure and also the feelings of loneliness when left home attended.
The latchkey children show the symptoms of an unhealthy relationship with their parents. This happens because a child’s safety is at risk when parents were not at home for longer periods of time. The negative interaction between parent- children are linked to harmful behaviors of children like mugging, stealing, drug abuse, sexual abuse and criminal behaviors.
These negative behaviors happened during the after school hour with no parent at home. These fears are never confronted and never resolved throughout their life.