At first viewing, this video sends a powerful message. The young boys in the video range from 7 to 11 years old and speak in Italian, with subtitles. The boys are introduced to a very pretty young girl in their age group named Martina.
These boys have the typical reactions you might expect when interacting with a young girl. They stand there. They act awkward. They giggle. The boys are coached by off-screen interviewer Luca Iavarone to say what they like about this pretty girl they are meeting. Then, they are asked by Iavarone to slap her.
To their credit, all of the sweet young boys resist. There is not one young boy in the video who feels naturally inclined to raise a hand to this pretty young girl, emphasis on the pretty.
One young boy explains, "I can't hit her because she's pretty, and she's a girl."
Another young boy says, "Because you're not supposed to hit girls."
The viral video was created by Fanpage.it, an Italian news organization, with the purpose of exhibiting how even young children can question the potentially violent treatment of women. So far, so good.
However, the main issue with the video at second glance, brought up by a number of internet commenters, is this: It is rife with gender stereotypes. Yes, the boys responded well by refusing to hit a girl, but this was not just any girl. She was a pretty girl. The same kindness should be extended toward any child of any gender at any time.
Just as it was a knee-jerk reaction for these boys not to hit a cute girl, it should also be automatic for kids not to lay a hand on anyone.
As one commenter on YouTube explains, "You shouldn't hit her, as one kid implied, because violence is wrong. It does not matter that she is a girl and the implication that the female gender is by any means inferior is not valid."
This video is certainly a step in the right direction, and there is no criticism of that. But there is a much broader message that could have been showcased. Boys should not hit girls, conventionally pretty or otherwise. Girls should not hit boys. Boys should not hit other boys. Our kids need to hear the message that violence is unacceptable, no matter who is at the receiving end.
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