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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/1258685-Latchkey-Kids
Rated: E · Article · News · #1258685
Our nation's kids are endangered. What's the solution? See my challenge.
KIDS-WITH-KEYS


One third!  That's what the dreaded words said in a report from phoenix.gov http://www.ci.phoenix.az.us/FIRE/keykids.html.  Across the nation one in three of our kids are latchkey kids, left home alone to fend for themselves.  In some cities, such as Phoenix, Arizona, it is as much as half.  When a brother enlisted into the U.S. Marines, his girlfriend's father said, "It will either make him or break him."  This is true with our kids.  They are on the front line of a war, sitting at home alone.  They are prey to the unknown, prey to boredom and prey to the green phantom called jealousy, while others enjoy the freedom of  the outdoors, and companionship found with other siblings at home or at civic organizations, such as the Boys and Girls Club. 

Some will become resourceful.  A fellow college student admitted being left alone at the tender age of three years old (not for long).  He was five when left alone all day.  He boasted of knowing how to cook, clean and make minor repairs, while still a young whippersnapper.  This man's father committed suicide leaving his mother and him alone.  She had to work long hours for them to meet their expenses.  He fought all the dangers that surrounded him.  He met with the bad element, but somehow survived, now clean of drugs and alcoholism.  This is an example of both being "made" and "broken."  Kids eventually grow up and mature to be hopefully solid citizens.

This is difficult, as according to Wikipedia.org http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/latchkey_kid, in a study of middle school students left alone more than 3 hours a day, there are higher levels of behavior problems, depression and lower self esteem.  The legality of the child left alone varies with country, state and local area.  The guidelines take into account the child's age, mental and emotional and physical development.  Check the local authorities for age guidelines.

My friend's mother taught him what to do in an emergency, the number 911, where to go in severe weather, or when there is an intruder.  This was when there were no cell phones for his mother to attempt to check on him.  He had books to read from the Library, snacks, and the media (radio and TV) to help fight boredom.  This man was lucky to be healthy, as the sick child needs nurturing.  The sick child still must prepare a meal, wash the dishes and do other chores that cannot be left undone.  This is unfair for a child.  Of course, my friend had his share of colds and flu including the chills and discomfort of fever, having to fend for himself, but he survived and is lucky to have his health.  Some may not be so lucky. 

Phoenix.gov, http://www.ci.phoenix.az.us/FIRE/keykids.html, shows advice to parents forced to leave a child alone as one solution, including seeking alternatives to self-care, finding after-school activities for children.  If there is none, contact the local Parent Teachers Organization (PTO) to start one.  Make friends with the in-laws and get grandparents to help to keep costs down.  Talk to the employer to establish an on-site or off-site child care center.  Inquire about flex-time schedules. 

They suggest practicing good parent-child communication, encouraging the child to share their feeling and thoughts.  Children are sometimes left alone due to the sickness of a babysitter.  All children must know what do do in case of an emergency.  They suggest a "safe room" equipped with a phone for an escape from an intruder.  The child should know his personal information as well as his parents, how to dial 911, along with other advice for his safety, including what to do in case of a fire.  He is not a child, but forced to be a small adult.

Phoenix.gov, http://www.ci.phoenix.az.us/FIRE/keykids.html, and other sources suggest that the parent find out about support services, such as parks, theaters and museums.  Another idea given by the Governor's office is "Phone Friend."  This is a number to call if the child is scared, lonely or in distress.  This is funded by The United Way, the Governor's Office for Children and other organizations.  All this costs money.

They write about teaching responsibility.  This is true with all children, but these kids are forced to grow up almost immediately needing good judgment and responsibility to survive the day.  Parents are told to play "What if" games to drill the child with the correct response to situations.  Compliment the child for completed homework and chores and make plans for quality time together.  Communication is imperative.

The last suggestion is having constructive activities.  Put reminders to read books or magazines.  Leave toys that catch their imagination.

These ideas are of defeat.  A mother either needs to stay home or have family or a babysitter stay the child.  Without this the child should be with an organization, such as Big Brothers and Big Sisters.  In many areas across the country, including the Phoenix area, there are no organizations for after-school-programs.  Libraries are not easily accessible.  Thus many people have "kids-with-keys." 

What do we do to solve this?  These organizations need money.  I suggested that Ft. Knox simply print more money, a college professor burst with laughter.  I say, "Why not?"  So what if there is no gold bullion to back it up?  Give everyone a raise.  Let mothers stay with with young.  This is silly you say?

It's my opinion that this is mostly caused by the economy, although in my friend's case, it was the unusual existence of a death.  His mother had the low income, as most women do, struggling to feed two or three mouths.  This boy was left alone and too young for school. A day care center provided by her employer would have helped.

Another problem is too much TV.  Some people want the perfect home seen many years ago in "Leave it to Beaver."  I can't believe they endanger their small children under age 11 for this reason.  A family can eat beans and make clothing for a few years.  Our teenagers are important too, but are able to work to help the family budget.

A more effective way to solve the problem is to create higher paying jobs.  The men at the top should take less home recreating the American middle class.  The mother or an aunt could tighten the budget in order to stay home to take care of kids from both families.  Day care centers could be at or near places of employment.  Teachers Aids could be at the schools later where there are books, toys and other children.  All this costs money.

It was around 100 years ago when children had to work as well, forced to work in factories at low pay, like slaves.  We must come up with more money in our economy or we will see these days again.  At least they won't be home alone, prey to intruders.  Their educations would suffer, as well as our nation's future.  The children of today will some day be in charge taking care of us.  This affects all of us.

I believe it is mostly because of economics and divorce that more and more kids are left alone.  It takes two paychecks to cover the expenses in most households.  The cost of living is going up in an alarming rate with the price of gas over $3.00 a gallon in most cities.  This brings up the cost of everything else.  There needs to be a new source of fuel or better public transportation.  People don't want to cut back; their stomachs accustomed to meat rather than beans.  The wealthy needs to share some of the earnings with the workers.  Day care centers could be set up at or near places of employment.  This would have helped my friend, too young for a school.  With this there would be higher paying jobs that a mother could be home for her kids.  Some families must economize.  Americans don't like this, but in some countries several people share a house or an apartment.  Money should be allocated that Teachers aids would be at the schools, where there are books, toys and other children as an alternative.

These are my ideas.  This is a challenge.  You come up with your ideas to settle this problem of kids-with-keys.  All children cannot become child stars in Hollywood fed with a silver spoon.  This is a problem.  Let's hear your ideas.

Meanwhile, kids are alone.  Like the Phoenix Governor's office I must suggest things to help the latchkey kids now in trouble.  Hit their website http://www.ci.phoenix.az.us/FIRE/keykids.html, and Yahoo Search for a more complete list of suggestions to help our kids. 


ATTENTION - MONDAY JUNE 18, 2007 WILL HAVE FOUR WEEKS OF SOAPSBYJULIE.COM.  WORKING ON FINDING SPONSORS.

See {http://www.SoapsbyJulie.com} with the story of a latchkey kid.  His father a deceased U.S. Marine, killed in Iraq, taking care of his family.  With his sister having to leave quickly for marriage and a new job, his son is now a latchkey kid, one of the 50 percent in Phoenix, Arizona.  This is a soap opera to be updated Mondays beginning when I have readers.  This is so our many office workers can have a soap opera.  I hope this will be on as long as General Hospital and All My Children has.  Disney gave idea of it being presented verbally, NEW.  I will try this.

ENJOY!


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