Verified Child-Abuse Cases Soar on the Saturday Following Friday Report-Card Distribution: Study

A Florida study showed four times as many verified child-abuse cases called in to the Florida Department of Children and Families abuse hotline

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A new study has found a large increase in confirmed child-abuse cases following report-card distribution.

The findings came after researchers conducted the study on children from ages 5 to 11, drawing data from cases reported via the Florida Department of Children and Families abuse hotline.

The study, based on 1,943 verified called-in child-abuse cases, saw almost four times as many confirmed reports on the Saturdays following report-card distribution the previous Friday.

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Published Monday in JAMA Pediatrics, the study — based on data from the 2015-2016 school year — saw, surprisingly enough, that the uptick in abuse cases reported only seemed to happen when the report cards were given out on the Friday, leading researchers to an interesting hypothesis.

The New York Times reports that the study’s lead author Melissa A. Bright, a researcher at the University of Florida, said the timing could be because parents were “distracted” during the week and/or because teachers who would see a child at school the next day during a weekday report-card distribution would have to report suspected abuse.

“We know a lot about what predicts child abuse,” said Dr. Bright. “But we don’t know when. If we have a better idea of when child abuse happens, then we can target our prevention efforts more effectively.”

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The research focused on verified physical-abuse calls, which it defined as including “physical injury, bizarre punishment, asphyxiation, burns, bone fracture or internal injuries.”

Another author on the study — Jacksonville, Florida-based pediatrician Dr. Randell C. Alexander — said that he and others he has worked with have heard accounts of abuse following the receipt of lower grades over the years.

“When you say, ‘How did you get it?,’ they say it’s because of their report card,” said Dr. Alexander, according to The New York Times.

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