Raising kids is a tough job, but spanking may not be the best form of punishment. Children frequently spanked scored lower on future IQ tests, according to a new study.
The researchers said parents resort to corporal punishment, unaware of its mental consequences. According to the study, the more often a child is spanked, the lower their mental development. The consequences of an occasional spanking are real, but not as severe. Researches urge the need to inform parents of spanking’s implications.
“All parents want smart children,” Murray Straus, professor at the University of New Hampshire and lead researcher, was quoted as saying. “This research shows that avoiding spanking and correcting misbehavior in other ways can help that happen.”
Straus and his team studied 806 children between ages two and four, and 704 children between five and nine years old. All children took an IQ test again four years later. The IQ of spanked children between two and four were five points lower than unspanked children. Spanked kids between five and nine scored almost three points lower.
Spanking causes emotional stress for kids, and when spanked several times weekly, can become a chronic stressor. It can lead to post-traumatic stress symptoms such as being startled easily and being afraid that awful things will occur, according to the researchers.
Spanking’s implications are not limited to the United States. Straus found nations where spanking is common have a lower national IQ.
SOURCE: Presented at the 14th International Conference on Violence, Abuse and Trauma in San Diego, California on September 25, 2009