You know how you’re taught that you don’t discuss politics, religion or money in polite company? If you hang with parents of young children, I’d add spanking, breastfeeding and maybe cosleeping to that list. No matter how you feel about them, they tend to be topics that either side clings to passionately and will not be moved.
Anti-spanking people crowed last month when three studies appeared to show that spanking actually lowers IQ. But according to this Wall Street Journal blog, there are serious questions about the methodology of two of the studies.
Both were conducted by Murray Straus of the University of New Hampshire. One study found that children aged 2 to 4 who weren’t spanked gained an average of five IQ points four years later compared with those who had been spanked three times or more per week. Researchers didn’t take into account whether the children were often oppositional, or whether they were physically punished more harshly than spanking. That could cause emotional problems that affect development. It also didn’t address whether or not kids who were spanked more were already developing at a slower rate.
Another study by Straus found that countries which have high levels of spanking have lower national IQs. This study just correlated the data but apparently didn’t look for anything else that might explain the findings, and even Straus admits his methodology was not optimal in that one.
So, the jury’s still out on spanking making your kid dumber. It’s not going to make them any happier, but dumber? Probably not.