An Atlanta teen was beaten to death outside a party this week. According to witness accounts given to the AJC, this is what happened:
Two young women got into a fight outside a party. One of the women struck a male partygoer.
The young man did not hit back, saying that he doesn't hit girls, but vowed that the next guy who walked by would get what she deserved.
18-year-old Bobby Tillman walked by.
The young man who was struck began to beat Bobby Tillman. Three others joined in.
They beat Bobby to death.
Do you see why it isn't enough just to teach our sons not to hit girls? The young man in question absorbed that lesson to the letter. What he did not learn was not to hurt women, not to threaten or intimidate them in order to control their behavior. So, instead of hitting her, he chose a random bystander to hurt, letting her know that this was her fault. He was seeking her anguish, her anger, her shame. He punished her by assaulting Bobby. Yes, she hit him first, but he reacted with a much greater degree of violence, and now an innocent young man is dead and a young girl is left, for the rest of her life, feeling like she caused his death.
It is not enough to teach our sons not to hit girls. Men who are arrested or who are enrolled in family violence intervention programs often learn not to hit women. They don't always learn not to use verbal abuse, or financial abuse, or threats of suicide, or other means of controlling women. Our sons, and our brothers, and our coworkers, and our friends need to learn that violence is never a problem-solver. They should also learn to treat others with respect, and that it is never okay to use controlling tactics to punish another person or to get a person to do what you want. No one should have been hit that night, and certainly no one should have died.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Tillman family.