A social experiment in Italy is raising questions and concerns on Facebook and twitter after it was posted to YouTube over the weekend.
In the video, produced by Italian media company FanPage, several preteen boys,ranging in age from 8 to 11 are seen answering questions posed by an off camera producer on a busy street.
The questions begin innocently with the producer asking them to share their name, their ages and their career aspirations.
Then the producer introduces them to a young girl, Martina, who is of a similar age.
At this point the producer asks the boys to talk about what they like about the girl. Then they are asked to ‘caress her.’
Finally the producer’s tone changes dramatically as he commands the boys to ‘slap her.’
“Slap her, hard!” he commands from off camera again.
None of the boys actually touch the girl. Instead they seem to be confused and surprised by the command.
“Why not?” asks the producer.
The boys answer.
“Why ‘Cause she’s a girl, I can’t do it.”
“Because you’re not supposed to hit girls.”
“I don’t want to hurt her.”
“Jesus doesn’t want us to hit others.”
“First of all, I can’t hit her because she’s pretty, and she’s a girl.”
“Because I’m against violence.”
“As the saying goes: “girls shouldn’t be hit, not even with a flower.”
“Because it’s bad.”
“Why, ‘Cause I’m a man!”
Fanpage said it was trying to show that abuse is a learned behavior and that little boys are not born with tendencies toward domestic violence.
Some twitter users however have raised questions about the ethics of the experiment.
Others have asked what would the producer have done if any of the boys had actually hit the girl?
Finally a growing number of people have raised concerns about some of reasons the little boys give for not hitting the girl.
The video ends with this message:
"In the kid's world women don't get hit," Alessandro, 6 years old.