Latchkey kid and latchkey child

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The terms latchkey kid and latchkey child are interchangeable and have their roots in World War II. We will examine the definition of latchkey kid and latchkey child, where these terms came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

A latchkey kid or latchkey child is one who is home alone after school, until a parent arrives home from work. A latchkey kid or latchkey child is typically left alone for only a few hours, on weekdays. The term was first used during the 1940s in Canada, when a child whose father was away fighting the war and whose mother had gone to work came home to an empty house after school. Children in this circumstance often wore latchkeys around their necks, so the keys would not get lost. The term latchkey kid became popular again in the United States during the 1970s, when mothers entered the work force in order to supplement the family income or because of divorce. The plural forms of these terms are latchkey kids and latchkey children.


Tyrone is a model student at his private school while Tandy’s a latchkey kid who sometimes lives with her alcoholic mom, sometimes in a shabby rental, sometimes in an abandoned old church. (The Post-Bulletin)

A latchkey kid, I grew up in front of the television (small wonder I ended up with this job), and with my own mother working full-time, I soaked up the attention of Mrs. Brady, Mrs. Cunningham and Mrs. Cleaver as soon as I got home from school. (Variety)

We have not asked ourselves whether a child can be expected to learn when he has been through a divorce, and is a deeply depressed, anxious, latchkey child. (The Maryland Reporter)