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Child abuse climbs after Friday report cards, study finds

Child abuse increases the day after school reports are released – but only when children get their votes on Friday, suggests a study in Florida.

The curious discovery startled the researchers, who thought that the abuse could increase independently the children of the specific day got their votes.

But their study of reports on a child abuse hotline that included broken bones, burns and other confirmed abuses found the opposite. An increase occurred only on Saturday after a report on Friday. Although overall rates were low, there were almost four times more cases on those Saturdays than on other Saturdays. No apparent connection between report cards and abuse was found on other days of the week.

“Anecdotally, we know that many parents will spank their children or punish corporal if they are not satisfied with their school work,”

; said Florida psychologist University Melissa Bright, the lead author.

That punishment can become offensive when children do not have school the next day and parents think the injuries may have most likely gone unnoticed, the researchers said, noting that teachers must report suspected child abuse. Or, it could be that severe punishment is less likely on weekdays when parents are too busy focusing on report cards, said Bright,

But she acknowledged that these theories are speculation and that the results are not a test.

The study was published Monday on JAMA Pediatrics.

Researchers examined calls to a Florida child abuse hotline and school school report release dates in most of the 67 Florida counties during the 2015-2016 academic year. Almost 2,000 cases of physical abuse were included in children aged 5 to 11, confirmed by child welfare authorities

. There was an average of just over 0.6 cases of abuse per 100,000 children on Saturday after a report on Friday less than 0.2 cases per 100,000 children on other Saturdays. The average was less than one per day because so many days were included in the analysis. But in a state like Florida, with a school-age population of just over 3 million children, this could lead to 19 cases of abuses related to school reports compared to 5 on other Saturdays, the researchers said

limitations, including no evidence that children who were abused received low marks and no information on when parents first learned of the children’s grades. But they said the study was helpful in highlighting that child abuse and corporal punishment are still too common even though rates have declined since the 1990s. The percentages were 9 out of 1,000 US children in 2016 compared to 13 out of 1,000 in 1990.

Dr. Robert Sege, a Boston pediatrician and professor of medicine at Tufts University, said that bad grades should be a time for parents to find out what is causing their children’s struggles. “There is no place for corporal punishment for school failure because it does not work and the point is missing.”

Sege is the lead author of an updated policy of the American Academy of Pediatrics published last month that recommended against corporal punishment and spanking. [19659003UnitededitorwithasoundtrackoftheStateUnitimeritanounC-minus”perstrategieddisciplinarydecisive”

Changing a day of report card release can reduce some abuses, the editorial said, “but it will not solve the biggest problem: It is still socially acceptable to hit a child to correct his / her own behavior. ”

(Copyright © 2018 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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