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These boys offer very revealing answers when they’re told to hit a girl

Screengrab of Kids from 'Slab Her' Video

Heartwarming? Maybe. Creepy? Definitely.

Are men born with a predisposition toward violence against women, or is it taught to them at a young age?

Italian media company Fanpage.it attempted to answer this question with a controversial “social experiment” on YouTube, in which a filmmaker asks a slew of little boys to hit a young girl.

The video starts innocently enough, with the director interviewing a series of charming, floppy-haired kids and asking them what they want to be when they grow up. One 8-year-old says he wants to be a firefighter. A 7-year-old says he wants to be a policeman. It’s all pretty standard stuff.

Then the director brings in a young girl named Marina, with whom the boys are pretty much immediately smitten. He then instructs the boys to compliment her, make funny faces at her, and “caress” her. This is where it starts to get a little weird.

Fanpage.it/YouTube

Fanpage.it/YouTube

Fanpage.it/YouTube

Still, the video remains in “little kids flirting and generally being adorable” territory until it takes a sharp turn toward Creepsville, when the director harshly commands the boys to slap Marina in the face. At first, they look confused:

Fanpage.it/YouTube

Then shocked:

Fanpage.it/YouTube

Then just sad:

Fanpage.it/YouTube

One by one, however, the boys all refuse to comply with the director’s wishes, telling the director they won’t hit Marina. When asked why, they give the following reasons:

Fanpage.it/YouTube

Fanpage.it/YouTube

Fanpage.it/YouTube

Fanpage.it/YouTube

The video’s lesson is simple: If kids are taught not to hit women at an early age, they won’t do it. The boys’ resoluteness in the face of the director egging them on to hit Marina is certainly admirable.

That said, the video is problematic for a number of reasons, chief among them the fact that the director is actively encouraging minors as young as 7 to slap a girl. That skirts the bounds of ethics, to say the least, especially when you consider what might have happened had one of the boys in the video actually complied.

Further, the reasons the boys give for refusing to hit Marina—”she’s too pretty,” “she’s a girl, and I was taught not to hit girls”—aren’t exactly the best answers. We shouldn’t be teaching boys not to hit girls because they’re pretty, or even just because they’re girls. We should be teaching them not to hit girls because it’s wrong to hit another person, regardless of their gender.

Judging by the reaction on Twitter, this concern was widely shared:

On the other hand, that little boy at the end knows what it’s all about.

Fanpage.it/YouTube

H/T Business Insider | Screengrab via Fanpage.it/YouTube

EJ Dickson

EJ Dickson

EJ Dickson is a writer and editor who primarily covers sex, dating, and relationships, with a special focus on the intersection of intimacy and technology. She served as the Daily Dot’s IRL editor from January 2014 to July 2015. Her work has since appeared in the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Mic, Bustle, Romper, and Men’s Health.