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Latchkey Children

  • By: Coryn Lowe
  • In: Encyclopedia of School Psychology
  • Edited by: Steven W. Lee
  • Subject:School/Educational Psychology (general), School Psychology, Educational Psychology

The term “latchkey” originated in the 18th century and referred to lifting the door latch to gain entrance into one's home (Lamorey & colleagues, 1999). Door keys were often worn around their necks on a piece of string. In the 1940s, the term “latchkey children” was used to describe children who took care of themselves while their fathers were away at war and their mothers contributed to the labor force (Lamorey & colleagues, 1999).

After World War II, women did not return to their traditional role as “homemaker,” instead they continued to enter the workforce in droves. Between the years of 1940 and 1976, maternal employment increased fivefold. The 1970s saw a trend of separation and divorce that has continued into the 21st century. This trend ...

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