The video of a four-year-old Chinese boy being forced by his parents to run nearly naked through the snow in frigid New York has caused an uproar, but the child's father said he was only trying to train his son to be strong.
The video shows the little boy, wearing only shoes and underpants in the thick snow, shivering and crying as he runs toward his father, pleading to be picked up. Both of his parents are heard coaching the child to lie down in the snow, which he eventually does while in tears. The video, filmed while the family was in New York on vacation, was posted on a Chinese video-sharing site and has since spread around the Internet.
He Liesheng, who runs a bed linen company in Nanjing, told the AFP news agency his son "agreed to go out to run in the snow naked or else it wouldn't be possible for me to take his clothes off."
"He wasn't very happy when he felt the cold," He added.
According to AFP, the boy was born two months premature with several health problems, prompting his father to embark on a strict training regimen. He claims he's also taught his son Kung Fu, dancing, cycling and mountain climbing and has earned the nickname "Eagle Dad" for his efforts -- a reference to eagles who drop their young off a cliff, forcing them to use their wings for the first time and learn to fly.
It's unclear who actually posted the video online, with He's assistant telling AFP the father only sent the footage to a few friends but didn't upload it to any websites himself.
The assistant also said the boy ran for half an hour beforehand to warm up:
According to the Telegraph, the video has received tens of thousands of hits on various websites and reaction has been strong.
"I don't agree with this...We should give children a happy childhood, those terrible parents say they do this for their child's own good, but I think their purpose is just to be able to brag in the future," one online user wrote upon watching the video.
Another questioned the role of the boy's mother, who is also featured in the video: "I really don't support this, poor kid, does the kid's mother let the father do whatever he wants to do?"