Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Spanking Children Leads to Lower IQ?

Yesterday I read this article online:

And I'll be honest here.  I was a little upset.  Actually quite bothered. 

I'll offer a disclaimer here.  As many of you know, I do not have kids.  I love them, and want some one day but don't have any of my own yet.  At this point, many parents may quit reading because you may think that I don't have a valid opinion on child rearing if I don't have any children myself.  Please stick with me though.

The article states in short that spanking a child lowers their IQ.  There are also hints in there that claim that spanking makes a child socially awkward.  The thing that bothered me most about this article was the fact that they said that there were no studies where spanking created a positive outcome.  And this may be true.  But I know where they can find some adults who would be considered positive outcomes if they were ever studied.

I was spanked.  Well and often.  My brother Sam was even more so than I was.  We grew up in mild fear of a paint stirring stick emblazoned with the words "True Value."  Also in fear of a wooden spoon at one grandmother's house and a fly swatter at the other.  My father grew up in mild fear of one of his grandmother's bedroom slippers.  And we all knew exactly what a hickory was even though it may have come from a yellow bell or an azalea bush.

Here's the catch.

Excuse the blowing of my own horn. 

I graduated at the top of my high school class with a GPA closer to 5.0 than 4.0.  I started playing piano when I was 8 and the clarinet when I was 11.  I was on my high school yearbook staff, was in the marching, concert, and jazz bands, was in the National Honor Society.  Furthermore, I was Drum Major my senior year of marching band and president of the National Honor Society.  I got a load of scholarship money and was a finalist for my college's biggest scholarship.  When I went to college, I was part of the drama honor society and the Women's Chorale.  After earning that BS in Biology I went through a program that earned me a second BS in Medical Technology in just 1.5 years and graduated with honors. 

Now for Sam.

Sam played piano when he was 7, alto saxophone when he was 11 and guitar sometime in high school.  He also played soccer through high school and was very active in our church youth group.  Sam was anything but socially awkward.  He was also in the Beta Club.  He took computer repair classes and graduated from high school with honors in the top 25 of his class.  He went on to Clemson University where he's majoring in Wildlife and Fisheries Biology and on track to graduate with honors.  He's talking about going to grad school.

My point here is that we got spanked and it hasn't seemed to hurt us.  In fact Sam got spanked everyday for most of his childhood.  He would chase cats, bite me, chase chickens, give strangers the "stink eye," and rued the day that he told Mama to shut up.  I got spanked for fighting with Sam, for hitting Sam, for doing something Sam talked me into.  I wasn't a perfect angel and got plenty of my own spankings, but most were for things involving Sam.  But we both got it especially for getting an attitude with a grown up or "telling stories," Mama's euphemism for telling lies.  I would be afraid to meet either my brother, or myself now had we not been spanked as children.

Time outs wouldn't have worked for us.  For one thing, it just didn't bother us.  We knew we would go right back to playing in just a little while.  Mama and Daddy also raised us so that we had enough imagination, that sitting still and quiet in a corner for a length of time didn't bother us.  I could sit (and still do) imagine stories in my head without saying a word for a while.  I've seen Sam play with a stick and a rock as if they were the latest GI Joe with Karate Chop Action.  Mama sang songs to us, read stories with us, turned her hands red with Play Doh with us.  We didn't need the latest baby doll or action figure that did everything for us. 

Taking away privileges wouldn't have worked either.  Refer to above stick and rock example.  You can't take away every speck of lint away from a child.  Believe me, we would have found something to play with. 

So by instilling what I think is an amazing imagination in us, Mama relinquished two of the most popular discipline methods used today.  So, should she have limited our imagination and not spanked us? 

You may argue that this is my only point.  Sure my brother and I may have great imaginations, but we could have been smarter had we not been spanked.  If this is true, if we would have had a higher IQ if we had not been spanked, I'm still glad I got spanked.  I may not be a genius.  In fact, I really think I'm pretty average.  But what I possibly lack in IQ, I make up for in respect.  Sam and I grew up respecting people who were older than we were.  We learned that you couldn't whine and cry and get your way all the time.  We learned that you had to work hard to get what you want.  We learned that you have to be responsible, whether it's for a group you are leading, or for the consequences of your actions.  So even though it may have caused us to have lower IQs, I think that getting spanked was what allowed us to be good musicians, good students and good leaders.     

The important thing is that when we were spanked, it was out of love.  Our parents wanted us to be the best people we could be.  They didn't get some twisted joy out of hitting a child and making him cry.  They never spanked us out of anger, or left bruises.  If I was spanked now the way I was when I was a child, I'd actually probably laugh.  I always knew why I was getting a spanking.  Mama made sure that we knew.  We had to look her in the eyes and say we understood.  That also helped me understand why later she might not let me go to someone's birthday party or spend the night at someone else's house.  And I respected those decisions because she always explained why.  Sure we got a lot of spankings when we were young, but we hardly ever did when we were teenagers.  That's because we had learned early how to behave.  We had our moments, as do all teenagers, but I really hope that compared to some, Mama and Daddy didn't have a lot of trouble living with us two teenagers. 

Time outs and other disciplines may work for some parents.  If they do, great!  I'm not going to try to tell anyone how to raise their child.  That's for each family to determine on their own.  I'm just arguing that spanking shouldn't be taken away as a form of discipline as it has been in other countries.  I'm also stating that the above article may be a little short sighted by implying that nothing positive can come from spanking a child.

So I wasn't playing Beethoven's Fifth Symphony when I was three.  Nor was I solving the quadratic equation when I was five.  How many kids, spanked or not, actually are?  I do know that I consider myself a respected member of my community.  And I don't think any drop in IQ I may have as a result of past spankings has hurt me.

At least I dont' sit in the corner by myself picking my nose.


  1. I couldn't agree more with everything you said. I'm glad your parents spanked you. You would've been rotten otherwise. ;)

  2. Love it. I was spanked too, though probably not as much as my brother who may just have gotten into more trouble because his voice was louder than mine. We were loved and always knew that. I taught my own children, who were also spanked, and maybe more than they should have been, that I always loved them, no matter how cranky I got. I like to think that we are all above the average IQ though personally I believe that kindness is much more important than academic strengths. Cherrie

  3. My sister graduated from high school with the highest final grades from I.B. (international baccalaureate) in the whole country. She was never spanked. Not one single time.

    I managed to study for two degrees at university in a period of 3 years. I was never spanked.

    You said that what you possibly lack in IQ, you make up for in respect. Smart people often know how to behave. My big sister and I have always been polite and never been in trouble.

    93 % of recent studies prove the correlation which you mentioned above. It's not just one article. It's a bunch of research done.

    Most likely you turned out the way you did, not because of spanking - but despite spanking.

    I do hope that you consider to never spank your future, potential child. Raising a child is not the same as playing hazard. Why would you risk harming your child, when there are other better and more effective ways?

    Look at my country Sweden (where spanking has been illegal for more than 30 years). Our criminal rate is quite low compared to yours. Obviously you are doing something wrong over there.

  4. *93 % of recent studies in spanking research

  5. Hitting/spanking (whatever you would like to call it) a child is a human rights violation. Countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia have signed the UN Convention on the Rights of a Child (UNICEF). The non-signers are U.S. and Somalia. If you find yourself on a list with Somalia, YOU ARE DOING SOMETHING WRONG.


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