Kids Who Get Spanked May Have Lower IQs
Studies Show Link Between Getting Spanked and Poorer Scores on Intelligence Tests
WebMD News Archive
Sept. 24, 2009 -- Parents who spare the rod just might end up with smarter
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.