And divorce rates were much lower when men regularly slapped their wives around with the permission of society.
I don't remember there being "permission" for men to assault their wives, and I grew up during the period you seem to be referring to.
Anyway, a parent is responsible for the behavior and the effects of the behavior of his/her offspring. There is no parallelism in the marital relationship with the parent/child relationship.
Of course the parent is responsible for the child's behaviour and the effects of such, and if failed the child becomes the custody of the state. However, that does not grant parents the opportunity to infringe on the human and legal rights of the child, otherwise the child becomes the custody of the state.
However, in the context of your argument, spousal abuse is a valid comparison. When husbands disciplined their wives divorce rates were lower, just as when spanking was common children were more obedient. And by the way, the latter is merely your statement, made without any backing. Can you prove children were more obedient before?
Absolutely not, just lecture the kids instead and tell them to have respect. Violence will not resolve the issue
Because everyone knows that kids respond well to lectures and orders. There has been a decline in respect for legitimate authority roughly corresponding with the decline in using corporal punishment.
Now, no one here is advocating using kids a punching bags (unless the kid punches first), but the threat of corporal punishment is a far more effective behavioral corrective than "You have to spend an hour in study hall after school is out."
Unless one sees children as property and not natural persons, the law must apply also to them. As long as it is illegal to physically harm adults it must also be illegal to physically harm children.
The law deals with categories and all natural persons must have the same rights if the law is to remain consistent. People with Alzheimers are also entrusted to someone else's care, does that make it OK to spank them? What about people with the cognitive abilities of children, e.g. Downs syndrome? What about children with Downs syndrome, can they be beaten senseless?
If a child is cogent enough to make an informed decision on the benefits and drawbacks of vaccines, the child should be the ultimate judge. However, that's not (or at least rarely) the case. Nor is vaccines mandated or restricted by law in most places, thus it doesn't fit the bill.
If someone believes spanking instills discipline and obedience it's their job to prove that scientifically. It certainly instills fear and is significantly linked with a range of undesirable behavior.
Based on the necessity of laws being consistent.. Of course rights, specifically negative rights, applies to all persons, otherwise they aren't rights! Natural persons have a set of rights, as do legal persons, while property has a different set of rights. We don't have slaves anymore, thus you need to pick which rights to extend to children.
(Also, we are not talking about generalized physical harm, what we are talking about specifically is whether people have the right to go around and spank each other like a parent would spank a child. I think if you grab a random person of the street and spank him or her the law would have something to say about that in most countries. Thus the pointed example of people with Downs or Alzheimer's.)
Your second statement reflects my point: Laws need to be consistent. This implies consistency in time, object and generalized in offense. Just as there is no specific law against causing harm by a left hand uppercut or with a 2 foot branch of oak, we don't outlaw spanking specifically, we outlaw causing physical harm.
I am not intimately familiar with the penal codes in other countries, however I hardly believes it differs substantially from the one in my country:
Penal code §228: "Any person who commits violence against the person of another or otherwise assails him bodily (...) is guilty of assault"
Well, in the vast majority of the world which has civil law, judges don't interpret laws to any great extent.
@ kris feenstra:
I don't know if you have kids or not, but if you do, please tell me when is the last time your child got into your lap snuggled with you and said: "I love you, please spank me."
It doesn't happen and never will. Children responded best to love not pain.
People who strike their children have just been to lazy to learn how to be good parents, they try to make excuses to the rest of us to get a free pass to continue to be lousy parents.