Monday, September 17, 2012

U.Va. Employees Legally Obligated to Report Child Abuse

Susan A. Carkeek, Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, sent the following in an email to staff on July 7th, 2012:

"In the 2012 legislative session, the General Assembly passed legislation on reporting suspected child abuse and neglect.  Specifically, the law requires "any person employed by a public or private institution of higher education" to report suspected instances of child abuse and neglect.  All University employees are now required to contact local or state Social Services if they see or suspect child abuse or neglect.  This law went into effect July 1, 2012.

University Human Resources has developed a web page at with the legal definition of a neglected or abused child, instructions on where and how to report suspected child abuse or neglect, and other resources.  I ask that you familiarize yourself with the basic definitions and requirements so that you know how to proceed if you encounter or suspect child abuse or neglect. 
All employees need to be aware of this new legislation, particularly those of you who come in contact with children as part of your teaching, research, or other operations.  I appreciate your support in helping us comply with this law, and encourage you to share it with your colleagues. If you have questions, please contact the HR Service Center at 982.0123 or email"
In the past, researchers were not obligated to report abuse (though they were highly encouraged!) but the new legistlation changes their status. If you or anyone on your research team interact with children, please be aware of the signs of abuse and how to report. For more information about working with this population, please see Child Abuse on our website.

Seen anything cute lately?

U.Va. researchers Gary Sherman, Jonathan Haidt, and James Coan demonstrated that seeing a cute object can improve your ability to handle delicate things. Participants in their study were shown either a "very cute" picture of a puppy or kitten or a "less cute" picture of an adult cat or dog. After viewing the images, participants were asked to play Operation, a game that requires very careful fine motor skills. The participants who viewed the "very cute" images had greater success in playing the game than the "less cute" image participants, demonstrating that viewing "cuteness" helped to engage the participants in more careful behavior. Alexis Madrigal of the Atlantic Journal highlighted their work in his June 7th article "Why the Puppy Cam Is About to Make the Whole Internet Better at Photoshop." The original article published by Sherman, Haidt, and Coan in Emotion can be found here.