Children who were spanked in childhood have lower IQs, a study finds.
The more children were spanked, the lower their IQ, the research also found.
The probable reason is that spanking is highly stressful for children.
It can leave them with post-traumatic stress disorder.
An ongoing fear of terrible things happening — being easily startled — is linked to a lower IQ.
Parents who continue to use corporal punishment into the teenage years may hamper their children’s brain development even more.
Professor Murray Straus, the study’s first author, said:
“All parents want smart children.
This research shows that avoiding spanking and correcting misbehavior in other ways can help that happen.
The results of this research have major implications for the well being of children across the globe.
It is time for psychologists to recognize the need to help parents end the use of corporal punishment and incorporate that objective into their teaching and clinical practice.
It also is time for the United States to begin making the advantages of not spanking a public health and child welfare focus, and eventually enact federal no-spanking legislation.”
The results come from research that followed 704 children from the ages of 2 – 4 until they were 5 – 9 years-old.
The IQ of children who were not spanked between 2 and 4-years-old was 5 points higher when tested four years later than those who were spanked.
Professor Straus said:
“How often parents spanked made a difference.
The more spanking the, the slower the development of the child’s mental ability.
But even small amounts of spanking made a difference.”
The psychologists also found that countries in which spanking children was more common saw stronger links between corporal punishment and IQ.
Professor Straus said:
“The worldwide trend away from corporal punishment is most clearly reflected in the 24 nations that legally banned corporal punishment by 2009.
Both the European Union and the United Nations have called on all member nations to prohibit corporal punishment by parents.
Some of the 24 nations that prohibit corporal punishment by parents have made vigorous efforts to inform the public and assist parents in managing their children. In others little has been done to implement the prohibition.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the Journal of Aggression Maltreatment & Trauma (Straus & Paschall, 2009).