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Study finds report cards issued on Fridays lead to more child abuse cases

Researcher: 'I was certainly surprised'

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Does giving students report cards on Fridays really lead to increased cases of child abuse?

According to one study, yes it does. 

In a JAMA study published last month, conducted by Dr. Melissa Bright, a research scientist at the University of Florida, along with a team of researchers, cases of child abuse were four times higher on Saturdays that followed Fridays when report cards were sent home.

The study found that when report cards were sent home earlier in the week, there was no increase in child abuse cases.

"I was certainly surprised, because we were testing a hunch from the field," Bright said. "People are notoriously biased in their thinking (about many topics), and without personal experience, I wasn’t sure that this pattern actually existed. When we found it, particularly when we only saw it for Friday (report card) releases, I was quite surprised."  

Bright and the researchers looked into a year’s worth of child abuse cases verified by the Florida Department of Children and Families.

"Because we really do not know the mechanism underlying the link between report cards and physical abuse, I’m cautious to put out strong recommendations," Bright said. "What we do know in other research is that regular, positive contact between teachers and families is beneficial for the child. When teachers can focus their conversations with parents on a child’s strengths, instead of any academic or behavioral struggles, that child will be more likely to do better across the board."