Other stories filed under 2018-2019
Report cards tied to reports of child abuse
December 20, 2018
Report cards are known to cause stress and anxiety in students, but are they also connected to child abuse?
A new study has found that there is an increase in child abuse on Saturday’s after report cards are released on Friday in public schools in Florida. The study was mainly focused on five to eleven-year-olds and mainly relied on reports to the Florida Department of Children and Families abuse hotlines with the time span of 2015 to 2016.
The lead author of this study was Melissa A. Bright. Dr. Bright is a researcher at the University of Florida that focuses on child maltreatment. She said that this idea of a study came from personal accounts of pediatricians and teachers. These individuals noticed patterns of abuse after report cards get distributed. Dr. Bright also stated that some teachers have told her that they become worried for some students after their report cards go out.
A pediatrician in Jacksonville, Florida specializes in treating victims of abuse. Dr. Randell C. Alexander, the pediatrician, is an author of the study and chief of the child protection and forensic division of the University of Florida’s College of Medicine in Jacksonville. Dr. Alexander has said that when he or his colleagues ask the kids where their injury came from, they often answer it’s because of their report card. Dr. Alexander and his colleagues often see children with black eyes, marks from belts and electrical cords, and in some cases, the injuries are more severe. When parents have been asked by doctors about why they hit their kids, some parents answer that it’s because their kid got a C. This has caused researchers to go and collect data on the patterns on the timing of abuse.
The researchers found an association between verified reports of abuse and report cards, but only when the grades are sent out on Friday. It is believed that when report cards and grades are sent out during the week, abuse most likely does not occur. This is because the caregivers in the household are often very busy during the week. This is also partly due to the fact that teachers are required to report signs of abuse and kids have to go to school the next day during the week.
Researchers, however, did not go farther into the study. They did not look into whether or not the report cards were direct causes of abuse. They just found that there was a possible correlation and or association between the two. The study also only looked into public schools that distribute paper copies of report cards, but not how the caregivers react to looking at grades online. This study also clearly does not include unreported abuse.
The study found 1,943 cases of reported abuse cases that were called into the hotline from 64 counties that publicly release their report cards. Friday’s seemed to be the most common day to release report cards, accounting for 31 percent. Between 2015 and 2016, there were over 167,000 calls into the hotline however only about 7 percent was reported as physical abuse.
Dr. Bright said that one way to avoid the possibility of abuse is to release the report cards early in the week. Teachers could then pay close attention to signs of abuse with their students. Dr. Antoinette L. Laskey, the chief of the child protection and family health division of the University of Utah, stated that the issue needs to be treated in a deeper way. She believes that teachers and doctors should be trained to talk to caregivers about offering their kids the proper support and encouraging them to work hard in school.