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No wonder the ‘latchkey’ kids are home alone

THEY are known as “latchkey kids” because nobody picks them up after school, and there’s nobody waiting at home to prepare them a meal.

And there is a growing number of these youngsters, mainly from low-income households, who, after school or during holidays, spend hours alone at home, often into the evening, while their parents are still out, working.

According to Spanish NGO Educo, which is hugely concerned for these unfortunate kids, there are around 580,000 children in Spain, aged between six and 13, who will spend their afternoons unsupervised this summer.

That is a 66% rise from 2009, and the figure will keep growing, warns Educo’s Clarisa Giamello, Director of Education and Social Action.

The passage from elementary school to high school, between the ages of 11 and 12, is the time when many parents hand over the house keys to their children, telling them that they are “old enough”.

So says a report by Educo, called “Natives of the crisis: the latchkey children”.

But an Educo survey revealed that the age range was much wider, however. Last year, there were more than 500,000 latchkey children in Spain, aged from six and 13 years of age.

These children might have breakfast on their own, spend the afternoon by themselves, and even eat dinner alone. And, warn the experts, this situation exposes them to risks, such as early alcohol-and-drug consumption.

Eating disorders are also a risk, since there is no one to supervise what they eat, and high-calorie foods are easily within their reach.

“They spend much of their time staring at screens, exposed to advertising and to all the unfiltered content available on television,” reads the report.

The problem is worse in the summer. According to Educo, because 58% of under-privileged households, with children aged six to 16, cannot afford to have a holiday, even for just a week.

“They don’t take family holidays, and the parents cannot afford summer camp for their kids, where they could play with other children under adult supervision,” says Giamello. “And that would ensure at least one full, healthy meal a day.”

In response, Educo, which wants to provide latchkey children with one meal a day, has launched an awareness campaign, that includes television adverts, inviting donations toward setting up feeding centres.

The main reason given by parents, who were asked why their children did not engage in summer activities, was: “It is an expense we cannot afford right now.”

 

Short URL: http://www.canarianweekly.com/?p=42118

Posted by on Jun 21 2018. Filed under World News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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