After school, a large number of children come home to an empty house. It's estimated five million children nationwide between the ages of five and 13 are left home alone everyday during the school year.
These children are commonly known as 'latchkey kids.’ One Dothan organization is seeking to provide a healthy alternative.
Right now the Hawk-Houston Boys and Girls Club of Dothan is holding a series of summer programs, one is teaching kids life-skills, like how to interview for a job, and what to wear. Officials say it’s what happens during the school year and after classes that counts.
Sheria Kinsey is a program assistant with the -Houston Boys and Girls Club.
She says she understands the value of kids getting involved in a good after-school program.
"Most children when they aren't doing anything they are bored and we know that when they are bored they'll do things that will get them in trouble,” says Kinsey.
This is why the Boys and Girls Club offers alternatives. Summer and after school programs which teach art, recreation, entrepreneurship, accounting and cooperative skills.
Officials say these are skills that can't be learned at home, unless kids have supervision. That's the problem most latchkey kids run into; no one is home right after school.
They're left to street life and they're left to people who may or may not know how to guide them or raise them
There is conflicting opinion about the effects of leaving children on their own. Some experts advise against leaving children under the age of 12 by themselves. They say there are two dangers they may face. One is the possibility of an intruder; the other is the possibility of a parent not coming home on time.
Consequently it may be hard at times for a latchkey kid to adjust when put into a more conventional setting.
The Boys and Girls Club has space available for its after school program that begins on Aug. 14.
The program is Monday through Friday 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. For more information call 792-4618. There are other Wiregrass clubs, which offer similar programs. You can reach the Boys and Girls Club of the Wiregrass at 793-2321, or call Girls Incorporated at 793-5650.