"Millions of school-age children in the United States get out of school each day before their parents get home from work. Some participate in after-school programs and some are supervised by older teenagers or other adults, but many are on their own, either at home or somewhere else. Are these latchkey kids at risk for behavioral, emotional, or educational problems? Or do they benefit from the challenge of structuring their own time and taking care of themselves? In this volume, psychologist Deborah Belle discusses the societal, familial, and individual factors involved and reports on a 4-year study that examined the after-school lives of a wide variety of children. Her research - described in both scientific and human terms - illuminates the complexity of the problem and encourages us to consider the broad array of answers that defy simple classification into positive and negative outcomes. The perspective offered here will be of value to all those concerned with the welfare of children and their families, whether they be scholars, educators, policymakers, or parents and community leaders."--Jacket.