Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Health & Parenting

Font Size

Kids Who Get Spanked May Have Lower IQs

Studies Show Link Between Getting Spanked and Poorer Scores on Intelligence Tests
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Sept. 24, 2009 -- Parents who spare the rod just might end up with smarter kids.

Two new studies suggest that children who are spanked have lower IQs than children who aren't, regardless of where they live.

In one study, researchers analyzed the intelligence scores of roughly 1,500 children in the U.S. who took part in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. They found that these scores were slightly lower among children whose mothers reported using spanking as a form of discipline.

In the other study, national average IQ scores were found to be lower in countries where spanking is common.

The research was led by University of New Hampshire sociologist Murray A. Straus, PhD, who has studied the impact of corporal punishment on child development for decades. He is a vocal opponent of the practice.

Straus was scheduled to present his findings Friday in San Diego at the 14th International Conference on Violence, Abuse and Trauma.

"The best kept secret of American child psychology is that kids who are not spanked are the best behaved and do the best in life," he tells WebMD. "You won't find that in a single child development textbook, but it is true."

Spanking and IQ

In the U.S. investigation, Straus and colleague Mallie J. Paschall, PhD, of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation analyzed data from 806 children who were 2 to 4 years old at enrollment and 704 children between the ages of 5 and 9.

The children were tested for intelligence when they entered the trials and again four years later.

Even after accounting for factors that could influence IQ scores, such as parental education and socioeconomic status, spanking appeared to have a negative impact on intelligence.

The IQs of the younger children who were spanked were 5 points lower on average four years later than those of children of the same age who were not spanked. Scores among the older children were an average of 2.8 points lower among spanked children than children who were not spanked.

Straus characterized the impact of spanking on intelligence in the study as small but significant.

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

Girl holding up card with BMI written
Is your child at a healthy weight?
toddler climbing
What happens in your child’s second year.
father and son with laundry basket
Get your kids to help around the house.
boy frowning at brocolli
Tips for dealing with mealtime mayhem
mother and daughter talking
child brushing his teeth
Sipping hot tea
Young woman holding lip at dentists office
Which Vaccines Do Adults Need
rl with friends
tissue box
Child with adhd