Other Free Encyclopedias » Social Issues Reference » Child Development Reference - Vol 5 » Latchkey Children - Prevalence, Dilemmas For Parents, Mixed Empirical Findings, Programs, Conclusions

Latchkey Children - Dilemmas For Parents

home situation resources financial

Parents work outside the home because they desire to be in the workforce or because they feel that they have financial needs. Lois Hoffman, in a 1974 study, found that children did better when parents were in their preferred situation (working outside the home or being home with the children) than when they were in their nonpreferred situation. Parents with the greatest financial needs but limited financial resources are often surprised to find that it actually costs more for the second person to work outside the home than that person earns. Thus, such parents are less able to meet their financial obligations when both After school, many children come home to an unsupervised environment while their parents are still at work. Studies have shown that these children are most likely to use drugs and engage in behavior that is inappropriate for their age group. (Kelly/Mooney Photography/Corbis) persons work. Solutions for providing appropriate care for children must also examine the needs and resources of the parents.

Children have varying characteristics that affect their need for supervision and the type of supervision that will be adequate. Among these factors are age, developmental level, maturity, and physical, social, and emotional problems. Environmental resources such as the neighborhood, the home itself, and the quantity and quality of available community programs are also important.

It is a mistake to lump all children together and fail to recognize the wide variation among them and also the variation in situations and resources. For example, one situation might involve a mature twelve-year-old child who follows an agreed-upon routine while at home, has a secure home, can communicate via telephone or computer with at least one parent, and has a neighbor who checks in once or twice and watches the house. Quite another situation might involve a thirteen-year-old child who is beginning to explore drugs and sexuality, cannot be depended upon to follow an agreed-upon routine, has little contact with parents after school, and lives in an unsafe neighborhood. The range of individual and situational variables must be taken into account when attempting to understand both problems and solutions for children in need of supervision.

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