Getting Spanked, and Cared For

Brandon McFarland, left, preparing to practice martial arts with his father.
McFarland Family, Youth Radio

Brandon McFarland, left, preparing to practice martial arts with his father.

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August 18, 2005

Youth Radio's Brandon McFarland recalls corporal punishment as a child. He says he deserved it, and he knows that it meant that his parents cared enough to discipline him.

Copyright © 2005 National Public Radio®. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.


Youth Radio's Brandon McFarland has a story of crime and punishment, his own.


Think of your deepest, darkest fear. Maybe it's lying in a tub of rats or getting jumped or being caught on Jaws' territory. Me? I'm scared of leather. I was eight years old when I got my first whoopin'. I remember waiting outside my dad's room as he browsed through the massive belt collection hanging on his closet door. I kept wishing I could rewind to whatever I did and just stop doing it, but it was too late.

My dad grabbed this black leather belt with the gold buckle. `Come in here and close the door.' I was terrified. I wanted to run, but I braced myself and did what I was told. Afterwards my dad told me, `It hurts me more than it hurts you.' But how could he possibly know the pain in my five-alarm butt cheeks? I was mad that night, but I knew it was cause and effect. I couldn't stay angry at my dad for giving me the punishment I deserved. At the same time some part of me still couldn't understand why Pops had to go to the extreme like that.

Now when I'm at the mall with my mom and we see kids going nuts, we say that's a shame. Their parents should do something. I mean, you ever watch these kids? They throw fits, kicking and screaming for no reason. It might seem a bit sadistic, but if we see a little black kid running around and yelling, we follow them and just wait for the mom to snatch them up and spank them. The flip side is those white mothers who try to hold a conversation with their semi-lunatic child. It just seems like a waste of breath and time.

For a lot of black kids, getting whoopings is the norm. My friends and I even used to compare horror stories and compete over who got it the worst like, `My dad body-slammed me,' or, `Mine made me go outside and pick the switch to beat me with.' It's a point of pride to have parents that involved. To us, if your mom didn't bother to whoop you, it showed she didn't care. I knew a lot of moms who were too consumed with their own lives to take the time for discipline, and their kids ran the streets. But if parents put the fear of the belt in you as a child, I think you're less likely to end up on probation or parole as an adult. I always knew my family loved me. Sure, I never liked getting a whoopin', but it worked. I've grown to be a responsible, respectful young man.

NORRIS: Brandon McFarland comes to us by way of Youth Radio.

ROBERT SIEGEL (Host): This is NPR, National Public Radio.

Copyright © 2005 National Public Radio®. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to National Public Radio. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.


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