The morality of corporal punishment is a tough issue with many parents, but have you ever considered the fact that being spanked might make a child stupider?
Though it seems pretty unlikely (and somewhat out of left field), Murray Strauss, a professor in the sociology department at the University of New Hampshire, has two studies that show a correlation between children who were spanked and lower IQ scores. Strauss and his colleagues surveyed parents of 1,500 children and found that children who weren’t spanked between the ages of two and four had an average IQ five points higher than those who were; children between age five and nine saw a similar trend, but less striking.
But there could be other factors at work here. Strauss surveyed families from 32 different countries. Spanking is more taboo in developed countries, which could explain the difference in IQ scores. Plus, couldn’t the frequency of spanking be a determinant? NPR got Strauss on the phone and asked him about these possible explanations.
“The data suggests but does not prove that another reason the IQs are higher in these countries is that there is less corporal punishment where there is higher economic development,” he conceded.
Still, Strauss’s work is something to consider. Even if there was a chance that your child might be smarter — or at least have a higher IQ score — would it be worth foregoing corporal punishment entirely as a means of discipline?
What do you think: could spanking your child make them dumber? Discuss!