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Report cards urge restraint

Inspired by the health advice on cigarette packets, some American schools have added warnings to students' report cards urging parents not to hit their children if they are angry about bad grades, writes Jon Marcus.

It is one of a growing number of child-abuse prevention programmes based in schools and aimed at parents.

"We're probably the last intact institution that can address these sorts of things with some level of public support and awareness," said Joseph Rappa, superintendent of the public schools in Attleboro, Massachusetts, where report cards bear the warning: "Under no circumstances should this document . . . result in negative actions, especially physical."

Other school systems, including those on US military bases around the world, send home similar warnings. Many states require teachers - along with doctors, dentists and police - to report evidence of child abuse. Some school districts teach parenting skills to teenagers. And about 275,000 students in urban schools in the North-east went home at term with telephone-shaped refrigerator magnets bearing the number of a toll-free parent stress line.

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