I guess this will probably come down to everyone's anecdotal experience, but I'm fine if it's done judiciously as a last resort. It should be exceedingly rare, never in anger, never in excess, never with objects, and from a loving parent who is very clear about why the heightened punishment is necessary.

I think it's important for kids (especially boys, who test limits more often) to understand that there is a class of behavior that is just utterly unacceptable.

Many kids should be able to grasp this and act accordingly without any corporal punishment, but for some it may be appropriate.

With all of that said, I'm not sure I could administer it, but I think a lot of people say that when it's just a hypothetical.
It's pretty easy to identify people who weren't spanked as kids. They're the ones having a harder time growing up and becoming a positive contributor to society. The problem is that one person's idea of spanking is disciplinary-only, whereas another's is full-fledged child abuse. Until the haze can be lifted from that arena, this debate will continue to be cyclical.
When using violence, it’s never the actual use of violence that’s really important – it’s the threat that drives obedience. All competent authorities work this way. I’m totally fine with a parent beating their kid at home to the degree necessary that the kid is legitimately scared of the violence and will therefore be disciplined in public. Beating a kid in public, however, is poor form, but sometimes necessary.

My father came from an abusive household, he hit me once. My mother hit me all the time. I was more disciplined by my father, and I favor his approach: fear.

Also, it’s wrong to propagate the myth that all heavily abused children are permanently damaged. Several of my friends experienced severe physical and sexual abuse growing up, they are (mostly) competent adults now.
I guess what I don't understand is why some parents use spanking as the number one go-to disciplinary approach—and why this is thought to be so much better than other methods that have been proven to work. (Time outs, taking things away, grounding, etc.) Parents are the primary way kids learn how to behave: so if you hit, they think hitting is acceptable. Anyone who thinks spanking is the best way of disciplining a child should really take a hard look at why they feel this way... and if it's a learned behavior rather than one based on reason.
Oh, and people used to think it was acceptable to slap their wives when they were being "unreasonable." And yet it's still okay to hit kids? GUYS. IT'S FUCKED UP.
I'm with you, Steve. Totally fucked.
I'm shocked that, with this audience, we have an almost 50-50 vote at this point. Wow.

I think that's a straw man (and arguments about parenting are full of 'em). I don't think there are any otherwise-responsible people spanking as the go-to discipline. To the extent that there are "some parents" like that, I agree, they are completely wrong.

As FA said, it's the fear (and humiliation of submitting to it) that is the real punishment, much more than the pain itself, because if done non-abusively, the actual pain really shouldn't last that long.

As I said above, I think this is basically a completely anecdotal discussion - my anecdote is that I made it through childhood with less than a dozen thoroughly-deserved, super-temporary welts on my ass, and I feel I'm better (or at least no worse) for it. Like everything based on anecdote, I don't have a "control group" childhood to compare it to, but I feel like I'm proof it is at least plausibly a net positive, and certainly not always a net negative.
@steve - "Parents are the primary way kids learn how to behave: so if you hit, they think hitting is acceptable."

Nope, that's incorrect. That's you projecting your own feelings. Do I need to provide you the countless numbers of examples of children who are different than their parents?

Drawing parallels between beating wives and spanking kids is really reaching to draw a black and white version of violence - even in the sentence above, you must believe that all hitting is bad. Violence is totally necessary when dealing with some people, including some adults - just ask a cop. Violence isn't always a bad thing, but it can be used in a bad way. I think you perceive all violence to be a form of abuse, and it's not. Abuse is sometimes non-violent (think emotional bullying), and actual violence can sometimes solve non-violent abuse.
I would never hit the kids I don't have. Never.
As a former preschool and grade school teacher and teacher aide, spanking was absolutely, positively, completely not an option - ever. To discipline a child (or many children at once), I practiced what I preached to the children: I used my words. There was no other choice but to take them aside, sit down and calmly, but sternly, talk to them. If the child was especially difficult to talk to, placing a child in a time-out was our next option; our last option was to call the parents (which we rarely had to do). To engage in more talking, well, it obviously takes more time and thought, but, from my experiences as a teacher, it can work just as effectively. As a note: No, I'm not a parent, I was a teacher. I'm adding to this conversation because I know I have valid experience to share regarding this matter. Personally, I've, in recent years, questioned my parent's decision to spank me as a child - honestly, I think we all should.
@ Commenty Colin & Fidelity Axiom

Knowing how much you guys hate straw arguments and hypotheticals, let's get real. Answer the following: Name one scenario where it is ethical or reasonable to hit a child.
I'll answer Humps. When a child is intruding upon the personal space and property of others in a reckless and destructive manner. Example - you catch your child throwing rocks through someone's window costing you hundreds of dollars to replace it. Time out ain't gonna do shit.
And this comes from a formerly abused child.
I was spanked a lot as a child. I deserved it almost all the time. My youngest sister was spanked rarely if ever. She rarely did anything to warrant it. We're both pretty decent, non-violent people.
I have spanked my 3 kids (like if they are running into the street--- a swat on the butt seems like an appropriate punctuation to a very strong verbal message), but I haven't seen it as an end-all form of discipline. I don't think spanking is horrible, but I also don't find it that effective by itself. It is problematic as a parent to fall back on spanking. It's just not that great a tool.
Let me rephrase the question: If it is okay to hit your child, is it then okay to hit your wife? (Your wife is probably bigger and better able to defend herself.)
thanks for asking the question, Hump-me™, but as you've noticed - it's generally people who were hit themselves who most feel that they need to justify that hitting, e.g. 'I deserved it', which is exactly the sort of shit you're supposed to go to therapy to deal with so that you can RISE ABOVE.

honestly, people - if you can not out-reason a child who is doing something fucked-up (throwing rocks through windows? really?) with some pretty basic-assed logic, you're sure as hell not going to impress them with a beating. Even if you think you have, then check yourself, because it only works as long as you are physically stronger than they are - and it isn't as long as you think.
@Steve - What if you accidently knock over the couch she was sleeping on and she wakes up in a drunken rage and starts hitting you? I think you can hit your wife for pretty much the exact same time you can hit any person: if they're hitting you.

@happy, it's cute that you're the type of kid who was easily influenced by strangers or authorities.

Please wait...

and remember to be decent to everyone
all of the time.

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