Child abuse cases spike on Saturdays when report cards go out Friday: UF study

Report cards are the barometer for how students are doing in school. Bringing home bad grades can mean extreme consequences for some kids.

"I do a lot of work with maltreatment and it never gets easier to hear the types of things that go on," said University of Florida research scientist, Melissa Bright.

She received some disturbing information from some pediatricians.

"We notice this pattern that when report cards come out we see a spike in child abuse. I started talking to some teacher colleagues of mine and they said, 'oh yeah, we definitely see that,'" said Bright.

Bright decided to dig deeper. She and pediatrician Dr. Randell Alexander, who is the chief of the Division of Child Protection and Forensic Pediatrics at the University of Florida's Jacksonville medical school, began analyzing calls coming into the Florida Child Abuse Hotline and they found a disturbing trend.

When report cards are sent home on a Friday, there is a spike in confirmed cases of abuse the next day, Saturday. The number of cases was four times higher than other Saturdays.

"What we found is, only when it comes out on Fridays do we see the spike in calls on Saturday, which is a little surprising. We didn't necessarily expect that. we're not really sure why. [It] kind of opens up a lot more opportunities for the next questions to answer," said Bright.

Now she wants to expand her research beyond Florida. Her ultimate goal is to prevent abusive punishment.

"If we can change even just a few cases, that's huge," she said.