If you have a child acting up, a really effective way to get him to behave would be swift swats to the backside. There's been a study done in the US on hundreds of children. Would you believe it, it's been found that children who are spanked grow up to be not as bright as their friends who are not given a hot bottom. In an age of overparenting, where anxious parents want nothing more than to see their children grow up to be extra smart overachievers, keeping in mind this little detail about spanking might actually help that come about. But one wonders if the study inadvertantly looked at children who come from families that are poor and have little education and therefore, more commonly, use methods of child discipline like spanking? It is possible, one feels, that that's what made the tests find lower intelligence in these children.
Researchers counter this by claiming that the study did take into account the fact that one had to be careful about picking children for the study from comparable social and economic levels. And of course the study only claims that there is a link between the two. It doesn't say outright that a spank results in a certain definite slide in intelligence. These studies about child discipline were done on a group of 1500 children between the ages of two and nine, and the studies ran for about four years. The children in the study were picked from a racial make that was adequately representative of the entire nation. At the end of the study they found that the spanked children were around four points lower on the IQ test than the other children. But how does one trust that these were really done well. It must be hard to pick such a large bunch of children, to get their parents to agree, and do all this while making sure that no detail is left to chance.
To make it possible for the study to really prove anything, it would need to use a larger group of children and follow them for a couple of decades to really understand the principles of child discipline. One doesn't quite see how that could be done on such a large scale. When the Baby Einstein DVDs came out, parents didn't really stop to think if it would really work. They just bought them on the off chance that they might work, and then they didn't.
So what could be behind a little spanking that could really dumb down a child that much? The researchers say that it's pretty simple: to be hit, even by their parents, shocks and dismays all children and puts them off so much that, soon, learning is the last thing on their minds. A parent who explains the situation to a child rather than going for the quick fix found in a spanking, does present the child with a democratic, predictable and fair life. A child who feels that his environment is fair, is naturally more disposed to learning about it.