Spanking has become quite the debatable issue over the last few years. Whether or not you spank your child is a personal choice, but researchers say that spanking does in fact effect your child’s character and IQ.
Dr. Murray Straus spent the better part of his life trying to understand the negative effects of physical punishment on the psyche of a child. He wrote many books on the subject, detailing the harmful effects of spanking and how it can affect a child’s adult life. A newer study sustained by the University of New Hampshire explored the link between spanking and IQ.
Spanking And IQ
Straus, along with Mallie Paschall, a senior research expert at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, conducted the study. The two scientists studied samples of 806 children ages 2-4 and 704 children ages 5-9. Four years later, they retested both groups. They found that the IQ’s of children 2-4 who were not spanked ranked five points higher compared to those in the same age group who were spanked. Children 5-9 years old who were not hit scored 2.8 points higher in IQ four years later, compared to those in the same age group who were hit.
The duo presented the results at the International Conference on Violence, Abuse and Trauma in 2009. Straus explained, “How often parents spanked made a difference. The more spanking the slower the development of the child’s mental ability. But even small amounts of spanking made a difference.”
He added, “All parents want smart children. This study shows that avoiding spanking and correcting misbehaviour in other ways can help that happen.”
Straus and his team also collected data on corporal punishment in 32 nations among 17,404 university students who experienced spanking as youngsters. They found lower national average IQ levels in nations where spanking was more common.
As for an explanation for the relationship between corporal punishment and lower IQ, researchers explained that corporal punishment can become a chronic stress or for young children, especially those who experience it three or more times a week.
Researchers found that the stress of corporal punishment can lead to post-traumatic stress symptoms, such as being afraid that something bad will happen and being easily startled, symptoms that are associated with lower IQ.