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Children of the key: the growing problem of children who are home alone

Children of the key: the growing problem of children who are home alone


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More than 580,000 children between the ages of 6 and 13 in Spain stay home alone during the holidays. Their parents work but their low income does not allow them to leave their job, take them to camp, or hire someone to take care of them.

They are known as "The Children of the Key" and their number has been increasing alarmingly in recent years. The NGO Educo has published a report warning about the problem of children who are alone at home, whose cases have grown by 66% since 2009.

This is the campaign launched by the NGO Educo, a campaign aimed at raising awareness about the growing problem of children who are alone at home, they are known as children of the key.

They are so called because they have a key to enter and leave the house. They wear it around their neck or keep it in their backpack. They use it almost every day. They leave the school and nobody waits for them at the exit. They go home alone to spend the afternoon there. Why? Their parents find it impossible to reconcile work and personal life. Their low income prevents them from hiring anyone who can take care of their children during the time they spend at their jobs.

What are these half a million children who spend the afternoon alone doing? The vast majority are watching television without anyone to control what they see or how long they watch it, accessing digital devices, games, social networks or advertising without any filter.

The children of the key are exposed during the afternoons to the dangers of being alone at home and even the risks of being on the street and meeting children older than them who may harass them or adults who try to approach them with bad intentions.

The number of these children tends to increase in summer, since a high number of these families cannot go on vacation despite having income, since they are not enough to enjoy even a week away from their residence. They also cannot afford summer camps where their children can play with other children and be cared for by adults. They are children who, in many cases are not well fed, they prepare their snack and, in many cases, their dinner.

The reason why these children are alone is not always helplessness or neglect. The Educo report affirms that "the reasons for this situation are due to a precarious economic and work situation with practically no family and social support."

Spain is not the only country affected by this problem, children from all over the world have to face the loneliness of the afternoons at home or caring for little siblings while their parents work. A survey published by Afterschool Allience titled America After 3 PM revealed that almost 15 million American schoolchildren spent their afternoons alone.

Experts warn of this situation in which the unsupervised child could fall into drug problems, delinquency, teenage pregnancies and even problems related to eating, such as obesity, since no one controls the quality of what he eats.

Many risks for children and few policies that allow low-income families to reconcile or survive.

You can read more articles similar to Children of the key: the growing problem of children who are home alone, in the category of On-site Education.


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