Recent events have gotten me to thinking about why our young children appear to be broken and why is it that our youth appear to crying out for help. It reminded me about a catch phrase that was the topic of debate in the 80’ about latch key children.
According to Wikipedia the term is described as a child who returns home from school to an empty home because his or her parent are away at work, or who is left at home with little or no parental supervision.
While we do have more single parents in our society, many of the children are left alone because of neglect. This term gave some parents the legal ok to leave their children alone. The National SAFEKIDS Campaign recommends that no child under the age of 12 be left at home alone. States like Maryland and North Carolina have given parents’ permission to leave children at home as young as 8 years old. Other states won't even list an age. Illinois list the acceptable age as 14. Some sources even go so far as to state that the parents should consider the child level of maturity. This is a loophole that should have never been open. Nowhere does it state in the rules to consider the parent’s level of maturity.
Children need parental supervision or they will continue to make decisions without consequence. It saddens me that we live in a society that it takes two full time salaries to provide for a family. For a single parent, the financial strain to provide that extended childcare service represents a large part of their budget. Even if the parents are caring and thoughtful of their children, it takes master planning to be sure someone is there to care for the children.
Those children from the eighties are now are 20-25 year olds who are unmotivated and find it hard to respect authority. This is a lost generation and we a now see the fruit of this decision. The schools have taken on enough, let return some of this responsibility back to the parents.
How can we do this? Not through the schools or through community service, but through a labor movements that will propose shorter work days.
I hope this article will help spark the conversation about the elephant in the room. Our children spend too much time alone making decisions without the support of their family. Let’s work on putting an end to this. After all, this is the “first crop” and if we tend to our children with more care, our next batch should yield much higher potential. Considering this means considering the future of our country.