Peter H Brown Clinical Psychologist

Psychology News & Resources

Spare the Rod & Spare your Child’s IQ: Can Spanking Cause Intellectual Harm?

SMACKING or spanking, long used by parents to discipline naughty children, could cause more than tears.

Research revealed it can also lower a child’s IQ, with those smacked up to three times a week having a lower IQ due to psychological stress.

US-based sociologist Professor Murray Straus, who studied the impact of smacking for 40 years, likened the effects of corporal punishment to post-traumatic stress, affecting a child’s mental development.

He called on governments to outlaw corporal punishment

After studying 800 toddlers aged between two and four over a four-year period, he found those who were subjected to smacking had an IQ five points lower than that of a child who wasn’t physically disciplined.

“The results of this research have major implications for the well-being of children across the globe,” he said.

511ih3NyueL“All parents want smart children. This research shows that avoiding smacking and correcting misbehaviour in other ways can help that.”

Children aged five to nine years who were smacked regularly had an IQ 2.8 points lower. Dr Straus said children who constantly faced physical punishment lived in fear and suffered stress, which was associated with poorer academic performance.

While not an advocate of smacking, Sydney psychologist Dr Judith Kennedy said parents who gave an occasional tap on the bottom should not fear damaging their child.

“But a child who is suppressed through physical punishment regularly is going to behave differently,” Dr Kennedy said.

Melbourne child psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg said many factors contributed to intelligence and he found it hard to believe that spanking was one, the Herald Sun reports.

Dr Carr-Gregg said hitting children should never be the main disciplinary tool – giving them time out was the best option.

“But while parents should never whack their kids on the head, I don’t believe the odd tap on the bum traumatises them,” he said.

“I can’t come at this politically correct stuff that says that a little smack on the bum makes parents child abusers.”

Father of three Con Zoumis said spanking should be used only as a last resort.

“It’s not to hurt them, it’s just to make them snap out of a tantrum or stubborn behaviour,” he said. “And if you threaten to spank someone you have to carry it through.”


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September 25, 2009 Posted by | Child Behavior, Parenting | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Landmark US study finds Australia’s Triple P-Positive Parenting program lowers child abuse injuries and fosters placements

This news article  from the University Of Queensland News pages is very exciting, as I was involved in the original research of the efficacy of Triple P as a graduate student in the early ’90’s!

A landmark US study has found that The University of Queensland’s Triple P – Positive Parenting Program can significantly lower rates of child abuse injuries and foster care placements when offered to parents community-wide.

Results of the five-year study, which was funded by the prestigious Center for Disease Control and Prevention and led by Dr Ron Prinz at the University of South Carolina, were published today in the online edition of the Prevention Science journal.

Professor Matthew Sanders

Professor Matthew Sanders

It is the first large-scale study to show that providing all families – not just families at risk – with access to proven parenting information and support can reduce rates of child maltreatment.

The study found that making Triple P available to all parents led to significantly lower rates of confirmed child abuse, fewer out-of-home placements and fewer hospitalisations from child abuse injuries, when compared to communities without access to Triple P.

Researchers estimate for every 100,000 children under the age of eight, the results could translate annually into 688 fewer cases of child maltreatment, 240 fewer children in care and 60 fewer children being admitted to hospital or emergency departments with abuse injuries.

Study co-author, UQ’s Professor Matt Sanders said the research added to the already-strong evidence base of Triple P.

“We already know Triple P can alleviate parents’ stress and depression and help prevent and reduce child emotional and behavioural problems,” said Professor Sanders, who is the founder of Triple P and director of the Parenting and Family Support Centre at The University of Queensland.

“But this research shows that by providing all parents – not just those at risk – with parenting support through evidence-based programs, we can have a major impact on child maltreatment.

“We can hold back the growth in child abuse, keep kids out of foster care and in their own homes and see fewer injured children in hospitals.”

The US study was conducted in 18 counties in South Carolina, nine of which were chosen randomly to receive Triple P. Parents of children from birth to 12 years could easily access Triple P information through a variety of methods, include mainstream media, brief public seminars and trained counsellors at clinics, schools, churches and community centres.

“We would expect similar results in Australia if all families here were offered easy access to Triple P.

“Parents are looking for practical solutions to parenting problems that work,” Professor Sanders said.

The CDC chose Triple P as its preferred parenting method for the study because of its solid evidence base and its flexibility for parents seeking support.

Triple P was developed at The University of Queensland by Professor Sanders and colleagues and is based on 30 years’ clinical research. The program is now used by governments and health authorities in 17 countries – The United States, England, Scotland, Ireland, Canada, Sweden, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Iran, Japan, Germany, Belgium, Singapore, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Curacao and Australia

(Sourced from


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July 18, 2009 Posted by | Parenting, Resilience, Social Justice | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments