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Utah doc hopes child abuse study inspires parents to seek help

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SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah doctor hopes a new study that found child abuse increases after a child’s report card comes home on a Friday will inspire more parents to seek help.

“The takeaway message for me, is that we have a substantial number of people who are willing to hit their children as a way to theoretically understand how upset they are that their grades are bad,” said Dr. Antoinette Laskey, a pediatrician with the University of Utah Medical School and Primary Children’s Hospital.

Laskey says hitting a child, including spanking, is not the answer.

“Hitting a child to change their behavior has been shown to not be effective,” Laskey says.

Instead, she says, it leaves lasting psychological harm — compounded because parents are not likely to use loving words while imparting physical discipline.

“When a parent uses physical force against a child, that leaves an injury,” Laskey says. “That’s physical abuse, even if that wasn’t your intent.”

Laskey recommends parents instead reach out to teachers to pinpoint the cause of bad grades and ask your pediatrician for resources that will help you employ more positive parenting tools.

The report, from a study out of Florida, did not find similar increases in child abuse when report cards went home on other days of the week.