Sending Report Cards Home on Fridays Increases Child Abuse, Study Finds

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FILE – In this Jan. 7, 2015 file photo, public school buses are parked in Springfield, Ill. Once upon a time, finding out how your child was doing in school could require weeks of patience. You waited for the parent-teacher conference, for a return phone call from school if you were concerned and, eventually, for […]

A new study out of Florida is recommending school report cards not be sent home on Fridays in hopes of preventing child abuse.

The study done by Dr. Melissa Bright, a research scientist at the University of Florida, found child abuse spikes after report cards come out – but only when the grades are sent home on Fridays.

Bright and a team of fellow researchers looked into a year’s worth of child abuse cases that were verified by the Florida Department of Children and Families. The team compared those cases to the dates that elementary school report cards were issued and found the correlation.

According to the study, cases of child abuse were four times higher on Saturdays that followed Fridays when report cards were sent home. When report cards were sent home earlier in the week, there was no increase in child abuse cases, they found.

Bright called it an “astonishing find.”

“It’s sad, but the good news is there’s a simple intervention — don’t give report cards on Friday,” she said.

Bright now wants to extend her research and look into data outside Florida. She says she also wants to pinpoint the underlying cause of the link between the abuse and report cards. While she and the other researchers suspect it’s because children are being physically punished for their grades, they want to make sure there’s not something else they are unaware of.

According to a news release from UF, Bright hopes her findings will encourage school districts to send grades home earlier in the week. She says schools could “consider including messaging to help prevent corporal punishment that crosses the line into abuse.”

The study was published last month in the JAMA Pediatrics

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