The HomeSafe campaign is an after school guide for parents and children! Its primary goal is to inform families and safeguard children from hazards during the back to school season. Protect America has joined forces with Yale Real Living to help parents and children avoid the potential dangers faced by “latchkey children” with the following downloadable checklist:


Also take a look at our HomeSafe guide, complete with facts and pro-tips:


The term “latchkey” refers to the door of a house. The expression is reported to have originated in the mid twentieth century during World War II1, when there were a large number of children being left at home alone during the day or after school hours. Generally, one parent was enlisted into the armed forces, and the other was away working. The key is generally hidden around the house such as under the doormat or more popularly in the past, worn around the child’s neck.


The latchkey child phenomenon is still a prevalent problem in today’s society, although the rates have begun to decline. According to a national census report, 11% of children aged 5 to 14 spend some time home without parental supervision2. Whether a child is home alone for an hour or an entire afternoon, it is extremely important to develop protective strategies and practice potential scenarios that could occur while your child is unsupervised. With the HomeSafe campaign, Protect America hopes not only to educate parents and children on the proper safety measures for after school care, but to also ensure that your child’s experience at home is a safe one.

Hazards at Home

When your child returns home from school in the late afternoon with little to no supervision, it is important to go through a number of circumstances that could potentially occur while your child is alone.

4.5 million children ages 14 and under are injured in the home every year3. However, between 75% to 90% of these occurrences can be completely avoided through better safety awareness and prevention4.

With a few of the following scenarios to role-play with your child, a hypothetical disaster could be prevented. What should your child do if:

  • He or she returns home from school and notices that a window has been knocked out and the front door is slightly ajar?
  • A stranger knocks on the door.
  • The home security system sounds. Does your child know how to properly arm and lock the system?
  • Is there an emergency contact your child can call in order to retreat to a safe environment?

While about 40% of American children are left unattended at some point5, these practice scenarios are vital to your child’s safety during a home alone experience.

It is smart to rehearse these scenarios and teach your children when and what to do at home while they are left unattended. This includes never telling anyone that they are being left home alone, whether the child is sharing on social media or speaking to someone on the phone. Have check-in times, know emergency numbers and anticipate situations before they occur in order to make your child’s experience as safe as possible!



1. Latchkey child. (n.d.). Unabridged. Retrieved September 02, 2014, from website: child

2. Bass, F. (2013, Jun 10) Fewer Home Alone As Census Sees 39% Drop in Latchkey Kids. Retrieved from

3. Nation SAFE KIDS Campaign,

4. Child Death Statistics, 1980-2005,

5. American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry,