Latchkey kids became a heavily used term in the 1940s when children had to come home from school with no adults present. Fathers were deployed for World War II while mothers had to go to work. The trend of working families is still prevalent today, so latchkey kids still exist.
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Top Latchkey Statistics of 2023
Here are the top latchkey statistics showing the changing trends in the past 40 years:
- The number of latchkey kids in America has doubled since 2000. (Child Care Aware)
- The latchkey kids’ population was almost three times higher in 1989 versus 2000. (Office of Justice Programs)
- Only 28% of the 50 states have implemented age guidelines for latchkey kids. (World Population Review)
- The remaining 72% of states do not have federal age guidelines for latchkey kids. (World Population Review)
- About 33% of children come home from school with no adult present. (KFox14)
- Increased divorce rates in the early 1980s contributed to a higher latchkey kids population amongst Generation X. (People Magazine)
- About 22% of the nation’s youth lived with single parents in 1982. (People Magazine)
- About 24 million children live in a single-parent household as of 2019. (Annie E. Casey Foundation)
- About 45% of latchkey children are from low-income families. (After School Alliance)
- One in five children come home to an empty household after school daily. (Afterschool Alliance)
Overall Latchkey Statistics
Here is the whole list of 20 latchkey kids statistics.
The number of latchkey kids in America has doubled since 2000. (Child Care Aware)
About 14% of children 12 years old or younger (3.5 million kids) were latchkey kids in April 2000. In 2023, there were 7.7 million latchkey kids in the country as schools shut down for remote learning amidst the pandemic.
The latchkey kids’ population was almost three times higher in 1989 versus 2000. (Office of Justice Programs)
Latchkey kid statistics showed numbers were even higher in 1989 with 10 million American youth being home alone some part of the day.
Only 28% of the 50 states have implemented age guidelines for latchkey kids. (World Population Review)
The youngest age guideline is six for Kansas residents. Illinois recommends children be at least 14 before being left home alone. Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Oklahoma have recommended ages of seven to 13.
The remaining 72% of states do not have designated federal age guidelines for latchkey kids. (World Population Review)
The other 36 states not listed above have not designated federal age guidelines that a child can be left home alone.
About 33% of children come home from school with no adult present. (KFox14)
One-third of children in America return home from school with no adult present.
Increased divorce rates in the early 1980s contributed to a higher latchkey kids population amongst Generation X. (People Magazine)
Divorce rates were high in 1982, causing three million latchkey children aged six to 13.
About 22% of the nation’s youth lived with single parents in 1982. (People Magazine)
Professor Long of Baltimore’s Loyola College mentioned that 22% of youth aged 18 and younger are in a household with a single parent. In 1982, there was a total population of 62.8 million children 17 and younger. Hence, this equates to about 13.8 million latchkey youth.
About 24 million children live in a single-parent household as of 2019. (Annie E. Casey Foundation)
In 2019, It was found that 24 million children, or 34% of the current youth population, live in a single-parent household. Children living in this arrangement are more likely to be latchkey kids.
About 45% of latchkey children are from low-income families. (Afterschool Alliance)
Amongst the 15.1 million unsupervised children in 2009, about 45% of them belonged to low-income families.
One in five children come home to an empty household after school daily. (Afterschool Alliance)
About 20% of school-age children return home without an adult during the week.
19.4 million American children would like to join an afterschool program, if available. (Afterschool Alliance)
Whether the children in this group are latchkey kids or not, afterschool programs can keep them safer and more socially engaged.
Higher percentages of social workers considered it neglect to leave younger children home alone compared to older children. (National Association of Social Workers)
About 80% of 485 social workers in a 2015 study thought an eight-year-old staying home alone constituted neglect. That percentage went down to 50% when asked about a 10-year-old.
In 38 American states and other territories, leaving a child unsupervised under certain factors can result in child neglect charges. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
Consider the child’s age, mental comprehension, and physical abilities before preparing latchkey arrangements.
The general rule is a child younger than age eight shouldn’t be a latchkey kid. (American Red Cross)
Kansas doesn’t mind if six-year-olds are home alone within reason, but children aged eight and older with higher maturity levels are more cognitively and physically capable of self-care.
Latchkey children have triple the chances of enduring a home-based accident, enduring a break-in, or becoming delinquent. (Springfield Police)
Children have a mind all their own and remaining unsupervised for too long and more regularly can cause unintended trouble.
Children living in a single-parent household with their mother doubled between 1968 to 2020. (United States Census Bureau)
This is the second most popular living situation prevalent in the United States, which is where some of the latchkey kids’ population comes from.
About 50% of Phoenix, Arizona youth in the third and fourth grades are latchkey kids. (City of Phoenix)
This is the normal age when latchkey kids are the most common.
About 61% of latchkey kids are in high school. (Afterschool Alliance)
High schoolers are the most self-sufficient, making them the best latchkey kids candidates.
28% of latchkey kids are in middle school. (Afterschool Alliance)
Middle schoolers are at a more appropriate age to be left in self-care than elementary schoolers.
11% of latchkey kids are in elementary school. (Afterschool Alliance)
Kids aged eight are usually in second or third grade, one of the earliest ages to allow latchkey arrangements.
Latchkey kids 12 and younger are more likely to display negative behavioral side effects. (You Are Mom)
Rebelliousness and aggression from lacking boundaries because of an adult not being present can occur when a parent attempts to redirect or discipline their latchkey child.
Were you a latchkey child? Maybe your little ones are now latchkey kids. Let us know your experiences in the comments.