The Sunday Times, August 2, 1998

Smacking hits a child's IQ,
By Cherry Norton, Social Affairs Correspondent

PARENTS who occasionally smack their children may stunt their intellectual development, according to research.

A study conducted on more than 900 children aged between one and four found that even those who were physically punished as little as once a fortnight were affected.

Experts believe that children whose parents never or rarely smacked scored better in tests because they were given explanations for their bad behaviour and allowed to develop reasoning.

"When parents spank, they can see that the child stops wrong behaviour but they have no way of looking into the future to see the harmful side-effects," said Murray Straus, co-director of the family research laboratory at New Hampshire University and author of the study. "If parents knew the risk they were exposing their children to when they spanked, I am convinced millions would stop."

His team tested children at the age of one and again at four, recording how often the child was read to, how many books they had, as well as the parents' education and social status. They found that corporal punishment had a direct effect on intelligence even after all aspects of the child's family background were taken into account.

In reading and maths tests, children who were smacked more than three times a week scored 3% worse than those who were never struck.

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