Physical fights drop teen IQ


As few as two physical altercations can destroy a male teenager’s IQ to the equivalent of a whole year of school. For girls, the IQ loss will happen after just one fight.

Serious consequences

Drops in IQ are linked to lower academic and professional performance, behavioral problems, mental disorders and decreased lifespans. “It’s no surprise that being severely physically injured results in negative repercussions, but the extent to which such injuries affect intelligence was quite surprising.” Sid Joseph A. Schwartz, a doctoral student who carried out the study with Professor Kevin Beaver in FSU’s College of Criminology and Criminal Justice. This is one of the few long-term studies to look at consequences of teen fighting.

Adolescence is a critical period for the brain

Every year, one in 20 high school students is injured in a physical fight. Beaver and Schwartz gathered and examined data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (1994-2002) to determine the impact of serious fighting-related injuries on IQ. The study included 20,000 nationally representative, high school students monitored until they were adults. They found a drop of 1.62 IQ points each fight a boys experienced and a drop of 3.02 points for each fight a girl experienced. Missing a whole academic year is equivalent to a loss of 2-4 points.

Point loss greater for head injuries

“We tend to focus on factors that may result in increases in intelligence over time, but examining the factors that result in decreases may be just as important. The first step in correcting a problem is understanding its underlying causes. By knowing that fighting-related injuries result in a significant decrease in intelligence, we can begin to develop programs and protocols aimed at effective intervention,” concluded Schwartz.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, Journal of Adolescent Health


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