NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Latchkey Children Home Alone

April 13, 2000

A new study by researchers at the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research concludes that about 14 percent of children ages five through 12 spend an average of about an hour home alone after school. That's the equivalent of about 3.5 million children, according to researchers Sandra L. Hofferth and Zita Jankuniene.

  • They found that 73 percent of children went directly home after school, while 11 percent went to child care.
  • Another 8 percent stayed at school and the remainder went somewhere else -- such as recreation facilities, shopping malls or their parents' workplaces.
  • Children ages five through seven spent an average of 47 minutes unsupervised -- while those ages 11 and 12 spent an hour and 15 minutes without an adult present.
  • Parents with high incomes were less likely to leave their children alone.

Previous estimates of the number of latchkey children have ranged from two million to seven million.

Source: Cheryl Wetzstein, "Latchkey Children Statistics Unlocked," Washington Times, April 13, 2000.


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