Kids Who Get Spanked May Have Lower IQs
Studies Show Link Between Getting Spanked and Poorer Scores on Intelligence Tests
WebMD News Archive
Spanking and IQ continued...
"Many things influence a child's IQ," he says. "This is just one of them,
but it is one that parents can do something about."
In the second study, Straus analyzed data from more than 17,000 university
students in 32 countries who were polled about their parents' use of corporal
punishment. The answers were then compared to national average IQ scores.
Straus says IQ scores were lower in countries in which spanking was more
prevalent, with the strongest association seen when children were spanked from
childhood through their teens.
Critics Say Evidence Is Weak
While numerous studies have linked corporal punishment to aggressive
behavior, far fewer have examined the impact of spanking on intelligence.
But earlier this month, Duke University research scientist Lisa J. Berlin,
PhD, and colleagues also linked early spanking to reduced intelligence in one
of the most rigorously designed studies to ever address the issue.
The researchers questioned 2,500 racially diverse, low-income moms about
their use of spanking as a discipline tool for their toddlers.
They found that children who were spanked at age 1 were more aggressive than
those who weren't by age 2 and they scored lower on tests to assess mental
development at age 3.
"The research as a whole really paints a picture of the detrimental
long-term effects of physical punishment," Berlin tells WebMD. "The message to
parents is find other ways to discipline your children."
A 2002 analysis of 88 spanking studies spanning six decades linked spanking
to 10 negative behaviors including aggression, anti-social behavior, and mental
More than 90% of the studies found spanking to be detrimental, says
developmental psychologist Elizabeth Gershoff, PhD, who conducted the
"Parents spank to decrease bad behavior in the short and long term and to
promote positive behavior," she tells WebMD. "What the research tells us is
that spanking doesn't seem to be doing either of these things."
But critics say that research is highly suspect because it has largely been
conducted by investigators like Straus, Berlin, and Gershoff who strongly
oppose the practice.