The online video depicting a New Orleans teenager being spanked by his uncle for his believed gang ties captured the attention of tens of thousands online. Sadly, less than a year after the video went viral, the 16-year-old was found shot dead outside his Terrytown neighborhood home.
The Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office said Taylor was shot to death shortly after 8:30 p.m. on Dec. 7. Deputies were responding to a report of gunshots in the area when they found Taylor with multiple gunshot wounds, an official with the department told NOLA.com. Police have not released a motive or suspect in the crime.
Taylor’s mother, Kimberly Ward, says her son received a text message around 8 p.m. that evening and went outside their home to talk with a group of friends. A few minutes later, she said, her daughter received a text message that Taylor had been shot, and then another saying he was dead.
Ward believes a picture of her son, posted on Facebook, with a friend who was involved in a “beef” with a neighborhood gang, may have led to her son’s murder. Ward described her son as mild-mannered, but said that he had fallen in with the wrong crowd to have protection from bullies at school.
"He was guilty by association," she said. "He wasn't involved in no drugs because he know one thing — I don't play,” she told the newspaper.
Taylor’s uncle, too, took a tough-love approach with the teenager. In a video that surfaced online in January, Taylor’s uncle demanded his nephew cut ties to gangs before he proceeded to lash Taylor with a belt in full view of the laptop camera. The video went viral and was spoofed by rappers Lil Wayne and Birdman, in addition to the website StuntKidzTV. The video would be applauded by some viewers, who said the beating was a return to tried-and-true parenting. Others, including children’s health advocates, found the humiliating practice the reason why many children rebel against their parents and repeat the vicious cycle of violence as they grow older.
"Studies show that maltreated youth make up a disproportionate number of youth involved in school and gang violence,” Stacey Patton, founder of SparetheKids.com, told BlackAmericaWeb.com. The website offers Black parents alternatives to corporal punishment.
“The use of violent discipline teaches children that violence is an appropriate means of shaping behavior and solving problems. Physically disciplining a child has no positive impact for the child, that child's relationship with the parents, or the larger community," Patton said.
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