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Spanked Children Have Lowered IQ Scores Corporal Punishment by Mothers And Development of Children's Cognitive Ability: A Longitudinal Study of Two Age Cohorts


This study tested the hypothesis that the use of corporal punishment (CP) such as slapping a child's hand or "spanking" is associated with restricted development of cognitive ability among 806 children age 2 to 4 and 704 children age 5 to 9 in the National Longitudinal Study of Youth. Cognitive ability was measured at the start of the study and four years later. The analyses controlled for ten parenting and demographic variables, including mother's emotional support and cognitive stimulation, child's birthweight, age and gender. Children of mothers who used little or no CP at Time 1 gained in cognitive ability relative to children who were not spanked, and this applied to both cohorts. The more CP experienced, the more they fell behind children who were not spanked. If these results are confirmed by other research, and if programs to reduce use of CP are successful, there could be major benefits for children and society as a whole. These benefits are not limited to higher cognitive ability. Recent empirical research suggests that reduced CP is also associated with less juvenile delinquency and lower rates for a number of adult behavior problems.

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Keywords: cognitive ability, discipline, intelligence, IQ, parenting, child development, spanking, violence

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