A new study has revealed that a day after school children get their report cards, the rate of child abuse increases. The study found out that there was a nearly fourfold increase in confirmed reports of child abuse on the Saturdays immediately after report cards were distributed on Fridays at public schools in Florida.
The study took data of children under the ages of five to eleven and matched it with the reports called in to the Florida Department of Children and Families abuse hotline during the academic year 2015-2016. The results of the study were published in JAMA Pediatrics on Monday.
The lead author of the study and a researcher at the University of Florida, Melissa A. Bright, said that she decided to do research on the issue based on the personal accounts of teachers and pediatricians who noted a pattern of abuse soon after report cards were released to students. A. Bright, at the university, focuses on child maltreatment.
A pediatrician who specializes in treating victims of abuse, Dr. Randell C. Alexander of Jacksonville, Fla., said that he and his colleagues, for years, had heard children recount episodes of violence at home which stems from unsatisfactory grades. He said that they would often notice children with black eyes and marks from belts and electric chords after the results were announced.
Another author of the study and the chief of the child protection and forensic pediatrics division of the University of Florida’s College of Medicine, Jacksonville, Dr. Alexander said: “When you say, ‘How did you get it?,’ they say it’s because of their report card,” the New York Times reported.
He also added that when doctors asked parents why they hit their children, they sometimes responded with: "Because they got a C."
“We know a lot about what predicts child abuse,” Dr. Bright said. “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.”
Reports state that the researchers were surprised to find a link between verified reports of abuse and report cards only when the results were released.
“Physical abuse included physical injury, bizarre punishment, asphyxiation, burns, bone fracture or internal injuries,” the study said.