Teenagers IQs Damaged by Injuries from Fights
Research from Florida State University found that teen boys injured in just two physical fights suffered a drop in IQ approximately equivalent to missing an entire year of school. Adolescent girls suffered similar losses after sustaining just one fighting-related injury.
Doctoral student Joseph A. Schwartz and Kevin Beaver, Ph.D. conducted the study at FSU’s College of Criminology and Criminal Justice. Even they were surprised at the extent to which injuries affected intelligence. Decreases in IQ are associated with lower education and occupational achievement, behavioral problems, mental health disorders, and even lifespan. Nearly four percent of high school students sustain injuries each year during physical fights, according to the research.
The researchers analyzed data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, which was collected from 1994 to 2002. Over 20,000 middle and high school students were tracked into adulthood, with data collected at multiple points during that time. Students were asked about topics ranging from personality traits to social relationships and the frequency of certain behaviors.
Schwartz and Beaver examined whether significant fight-related injuries resulted in IQ decreases over a five to six year time frame. Boys experienced more injuries from fighting than girls, which was not surprising. The consequences of fighting for girls were much more severe. Researchers attributed this to physiological differences giving boys more ability to withstand physical traumas.
For every fighting injury, boys saw an average 1.62 IQ point drop, and girls experienced an average 3.02 IQ point decrease. Missing one year of school has been associated with a loss of two to four IQ points in prior studies. Researchers cautioned that the impact on IQ may be even greater if only head injuries are considered. Their study included all physical fighting-related injuries.
Schwartz stated the findings underline the importance of policies and interventions aimed at limiting adolescent injuries. These might occur from fighting, bullying, or contact sports. Effective interventions begin with correlating the problem and the underlying causes. Knowing that teenage injuries directly impact intelligence may be the first step in helping young people realize their full potential.