An Italian campaign video that aims to make adults think about violence against women by revealing what happens when you ask a boy to slap a girl has gone viral this month, reaching tens of millions of online viewers. But what message does this video send to boys and girls? We asked the psychologist Dr Elizabeth Celi for a view.
I find this video actually disturbing and inappropriate, both personally and as a psychologist. Not to undermine the importance of reducing violence against women, that’s important for sure.
The unethical nature of using kids in a video like this, not only ostracizes young boys who DON’T automatically think that hitting a girl is right ANYWAY, but unethically has adults (both those that scripted it and narrated it) to LEAD the boys in doing behaviours that are poor messages for both young boys and young girls to be left with.
An unknown adult telling a young boy to caress the girl, to touch the girl, who just stands there to receive it, isn’t exactly empowering girls. Was she given the choice to say no to who touches her?
I would’ve thought that’s something we’d want girls to receive messages on, not standing there for a narrator to direct a boy to take an action like that without her involvement. Molesters conduct such behaviours, I’m very sorry to say.
Then the narrator tells him to pull a mean face to her, again she’s to stand there receiving it. I know girls and boys would be very hurt at that meanness by another child who is their world, yet an adult is broadcasting and directing it. All for the sake of leading them up to the “slap her, hard”.
Kids get the wrong message
That is actually just sick for adults to put kids in that position, let alone the responses the boys are scripted to reply or have been endorsed to have been edited into the video, as to why they say no. “Because she’s pretty…” – so kids get the message that if she’s ugly then it’s ok?
Get into the young kids mind who may be watching and trying to fill the gap with confused messages. Kids aren’t developmentally mature enough to gauge the adult messages they’re being told to enact for the broader issue it’s attempting to deal with.
Another answer…”Because she’s a girl…” – so kids get the message that if it’s a boy, it’s ok to hit? I don’t think any parent wants their son or daughter to be hit.
The worst is having a young boy say ” because I am a man..”. What? He’s not a man, he’s a boy and should be left to his own age to learn right from wrong by responsible adults around him, same as a girl not saying she’s a woman and being nurtured to be her age and learn right from wrong.
Using a boy to send a message to a man who may need to hear it, is simply inappropriate. Boys and girls are being drawn into adult dynamics without full understanding, we can’t use kids like this.
You find out more Dr Celi’s work and he books Breaking the Silence and Regular Joe vs Mr Invincible at her website www.drceli.com.au, You can also follow her facebook page www.facebook.com/