Smacking children stunts their intelligence, research suggests.


Youngsters kept in line through slaps and spanks have IQs several points lower than those whose parents merely remonstrate with them, a study found.


Researcher Murray Straus, who has devoted the last 40 years to studying the effects of corporal punishment, says that talking to children fosters brain development.


In contrast, physical punishment can leave youngsters in a state of fear, hindering their ability to learn.


Dr Straus, of the University of New Hampshire in the US, said: 'Talking to children, including infants, is associated with an increase in connections in the brain and in cognitive ability.


'The less corporal punishment is used by a parent, the more verbal interaction is needed to teach and correct the child.


'Being slapped or spanked is a frightening and threatening event that children experience as highly stressful.  Fright and stress can result in cognitive deficits.


'All parents want smart children.  This research shows that avoiding spanking and correcting misbehaviour in other ways can help that happen.'


Dr Straus's study of hundreds of American youngsters found those who were smacked had IQs between three and five points lower than other children of the same age.


And the more they were hit, the less well they did on the tests.


The researcher told a Californian conference on violence: '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.


'The results of this research have major implications for the well being of children across the globe."


'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.'


By comparing data from 32 countries, including the UK, where parents can be prosecuted if they injure their children with a slap, Dr Straus showed IQ to be lower in nations which favour corporal punishment.


Britain had one of the lowest rates of smacking and one of the highest intelligence scores.


The researcher, whose books include Beating the Devil Out of Them: Corporal Punishment in American Families and Its Effects on Children, called for legislation on smacking to be introduced in the US.




Source: Daily Mail –