Did the Spanking Video Gone Viral Lead to this Teen’s Death?

December 14, 2011  |  

At the beginning of the year, a video of an uncle spanking his nephew for his gang involvement went viral on the internet. But just last week, the teen in the video, Michael Taylor, the recipient of his uncle’s lashes was found dead, not far from the apartment complex where he lived in with his mother.

The Times-Picayune reported that Taylor, 16, was found dead at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 7.

Michael’s mom, Kimberly Ward, told the newspaper that Michael received a text message from one of his friends and  stepped outside the house at around 8 p.m. to talk.

Ward, concerned that her son was outside too long, called him back inside. Michael told her he was just talking and stepped back outside. Later, Ward’s daughter received a text message saying that her brother had been shot and then another saying that he was dead.

The Times-Picayune:

Ward said she rushed from the house, driving around the neighborhood looking for her son, but didn’t find him until she was coming back to her apartment complex. That’s when she saw his body on the cold sidewalk clad in the red sweatshirt she’d noticed when he left the house.

“I came home and saw my son on the ground,” Ward said.

The Picayune reported that Ward was trying to figure out where she went wrong in raising her child.

Losing a son at 16 is an unfathomably devastating loss. She said that her son was “guilty by association” because of his involvement with gang members. Naturally, we didn’t know Michael’s life or what factors contributed to his death; but, I’m inclined to think the video of his uncle spanking him may have had something to do it.

When that video hit the web, people applauded his uncle, claiming that Michael needed that physical intervention. I understood the sentiment behind the uncle’s actions. He was trying to save his nephew’s life. Scare him straight.

But Stacey Patton, founder of the web site SparetheKids.com told Black America Web that after that video, she’s not surprised that Michael’s life ended violently.

When I saw the video, I kept thinking that by beating this youth, the uncle was setting him up for some kind of tragedy, either prison or an early grave.

I, too felt like Michael’s uncle was setting him up but not because of the spanking itself. Many of us have caught a spanking, beating or whooping or two in our lives and it didn’t cause us to turn to violence. The difference between us and Michael though, is the fact that his spanking was broadcast for the whole world to see.

If you’ve ever experienced corporal punishment at the hand of a parent, you know that there is a feeling of embarrassment afterward. Sometimes it’s because you recognize that you’ve acted a fool; but most of the time, it’s because being hit, by anyone, especially someone you can’t hit back, is a very…humbling experience, an experience that should remain private.

When I first saw the video I thought, ‘ok, you’re trying to teach your nephew a lesson but what is the point of uploading such a humiliating video onto the internet? Are you the one trying to be seen?’

You remember how hard it was being a teenager, how image was everything, how we spent excessive time and energy trying to appear cool. What do you think a video of you getting your behind tore up would do for your image?

Now, consider the fact that Michael was a young, black male already involved with gangs! For the better part of this year he was defined by a video so detrimental to his image and self confidence. If anything this downright embarrassing video probably propelled him even deeper into a life of crime, trying to prove his strength and street credibility.

WTF was his uncle thinking about?

With new technological advances comes greater responsibility. If you want or need to discipline your child or your family member, fine. But keep that in your house. We strangers don’t need to be a part of that. I can’t help but think that Michael’s uncle was trying to get a little shine from this whole incident. Clearly, this is not the way to do it. Becoming a You Tube/ World Star Hip Hop sensation is cool, but at what cost?

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