(And your phrase 'a bit carried away' echoes the reason why some children end up in hospital - because their parents got 'a bit carried away' administering their violent retribution).
Corporal punishment tends to be an emotional issue. Parents who use it are reluctant to lose the argument, for obvious reasons. Victims of it may be in denial, for other reasons.
How one chooses to discipline children is often greatly influenced by cultural norms of the group they are a part of. In my family circle, whippin’ ass, spanking, corporal punishment, whatever you want to call it is and has always been pervasive. Some would argue that the method is ultimately counterproductive while others, including former recipients are thankful for receiving it and rave about its effectiveness. I think its effectiveness can only be graded on a case by case basis. I can say that it helped me stay on the straight and narrow at times, but I also feel that it was overused and administered unnecessarily by my parents at times as well. I came to understand that not only spanking, but any form of punishment is not always necessary to correct bad behavior. For some of us, knowing we can get away with some deviant act does not mean that we will commit the act. Too bad some in our societies need that correction.
For most of my life I bought into the idea that good parents from time to time will whip their kids in order to properly condition them and to teach them respect for those in authority over them. With this in mind, any form of disrespect directed towards a teacher, parent or guardian, etc. is immediately punishable by an ass whippin’ to help insure that such behavior will not ever be employed again. I realize that this view is very authoritarian and perhaps even a veiled form of misogyny the more I think about it, but I also must admit that individuals I have encountered through the years that were not subject to such discipline tend to not respect authority as much as those of us who had been subjected to such punishment.
In my community one of the worst things a child can do is “talk back” to an adult and express their feelings to an adult as if the child and the adult are on the same level. Seeing a child attempt to do this, even when I was a child myself always bothered me as my folks were of the “a child should be seen and not necessarily heard” generation of parents and instilled that idea in me as well.
Recognizing these things instead of simply living and reacting has caused me to be far more patient than I may have otherwise been with my own kids. I’m far from a pushover, but I realize now that there is a place for a child’s self expression that I previously thought should not exist. But, if any of my kids speaks to me, my wife, or an authority figure disrespectfully and out of turn wrongfully, they will be dealt with “corporally” as they know better and seeing as to the fact that they have been taught better yet would still decide to act in that manner, ass whippin’ discipline/punishment would be in order.
As Traveler said, a child who knowingly inflicts pain for enjoyment is showing a sign of severe disturbance. Very few children do this. Those that do need psychological help; they certainly don't need beating, which is likely to disturb them further.
As crazy as it may sound, I am quite familiar and perhaps was way too comfortable with kids that abused animals for fun. Not only were animals abused for sport regularly, but we also would allow ourselves to be entertained by causing our little brothers or cousins (5 to 7 years of age) to fight for no other reason than for being able to say my little brother is the toughest little kid on the block. Needless to say I grew up in an area with a boy to girl ratio of about 16 to 1. We, as a collective didn’t see our actions as anything more than boys being boys and didn’t think that 5 or 7 year olds fighting was in any way harmful beyond someone getting a fat lip. Such naivety and foolishness….
As a child, I quite often engaged in dog fighting with my friends. It was fun and entertaining and a sort of bravado came with being able to say my dog can beat your dog. As I got older, 12, 13-ish, I developed a disdain for it, not because I was embarrassed about my previous involvement, but because it had progressed from fighting for fun to fighting full grown pit bulls and Rottweiler’s to the point of serious injury or worse. That was where I drew my line with that.
I can even think back to the summers I spent in SW Louisiana with my cousins in the country and how abusing animals was the norm. Everyone had a BB gun and in the areas where we were, dozens and dozens of stray cats were used for target practice. We caught snakes, frogs, raccoons, and other critters for fun all the time. Some of the older kids that admittedly we were slightly afraid of and thought were crazy enough to hurt us as well would do despicable things like setting strays on fire or tying them down and tossing firecrackers at them. It’s sad, but unfortunately animal abuse was the norm and we were basically unsupervised from down to dusk in nowhere land with nothing better to do.
To tie all this together, let me say that most of us have grown up to be productive citizens while a few never made it out of their teenage years. Many of the individuals that pushed it to the limit were individuals that did not have much in the way of parental guidence and were not held responsible to or afraid of anyone. They laughed at those of us that had to be home when the streetlights came on and made fun of us for getting disciplined by our folks, and sadly, most of them that didn't have that which they derided us for either didn't grow up at all or grew up and became statistics. I believe that had those individuals been subjected to guardians that would have insisted on them behaving a certain way who would have resorted to forms of discipline including corporal punishment, that perhaps they may not have met the fates in life they have.