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The word key evoked a souvenir in me, the Schlüsselkinder, or "Latchkey kids" in English. The official definition says : "A usually school-age child who regularly spends part of the day unsupervised at home while the parents are at work".
There were many of them when I was a child, just after the second world war. The schools, as still today in Germany finished at 1 pm and from there on the children were of their own. There was nothing organized for children after school.
This was a big problem for the parents. A lot of women at that time were alone because they were widows, or their husbands were still war prisonners. They had to work if they wanted to feed their children.
This didn't fit at all in the society scheme because officially it was not usual that women worked. But the after war situation had special rules. Women had no choice, or they had to work to support their family or they suddenly lost their work and had to stay home because the war was over and the men back. For this reason, I had never been a latchkey kid. My mother stayed home and was bored the whole day. I was running and playing around with those who wore a key on a string around their necks.
I found this very interesting and was rather envious because they had a key and could go home whenever they wanted to without ringing the doorbell. Nobody cared either if the child was feeling lonesome or not or had other problems.
Of course this situation was very much critizised from all of those who had a normal life and everything was done to give the working mother a bad conscience, but nobody organized something to help them officially. Of course help between neighbors existed and most of the latchkey kids had a neigbor's address where it could go in case of a problem.
Long after this time a study was made about these children to find out if there were more criminality amongst them then the other children with no key around their necks. The result was amazing, the latchkey kids had become responsible adults much more then the others because they had to learn very early to take care of themselves. Of course some choose the way of criminality, but not more then the "nomally" brought up children.
A sculpture in honor of a latchkey kid.
I wish you all a very
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