Two new studies released last week show a link between spanking and lower IQ in children.
Both studies were headed by discipline and domestic violence expert Murray Straus, a professor of sociology and co-director of the Family Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire.
In the first, Straus surveyed 17,000 college students in 32 countries and found that "the higher the percent of parents who used corporal punishment, the lower the national average IQ."
The second study, which is being published in the Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment and Trauma, looked at spanking just in the United States. Straus and a fellow researcher reviewed data on IQ scores of about 1,500 young children.
Of 2- to 4-year-olds, children who were spanked had IQ scores about five points lower than those who weren't spanked at all. Spanking among 5- to 9-year-olds led to a loss of about 3 points.
According to Straus, 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."
In a statement about his research, Straus said:
"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."
For information on 130 other studies that showed negative effects of corporal punishment, see E.T. Gershoff's Report on Physical Punishment in the United States.
The Aware Parenting Institute also offers 20 alternatives to spanking.