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06 June 2023

Video: Outrage after parents make boy run naked in snow

By YouTube/AFP

A home-filmed video showing a four-year-old Chinese boy being forced by his parents to run almost naked through the snow in bitterly cold New York has gone viral and sparked an online uproar.

The father was reportedly trying to train his son to be strong and healthy, and the footage has sparked debate about "Chinese"-style tough parenting - as famously illustrated by Chinese American "Tiger Mother" author Amy Chua.

In the video, the little boy runs towards his father, who is filming him, in thick snow with only his shoes and underpants on, at times crying bitterly and pleading with his dad to take him in his arms.

On several occasions, both parents tell their son to lie down in the snow, which he does eventually when his mother presses him.

The film - posted online by his father, who comes from the eastern city of Nanjing - has been viewed by tens of thousands of people on various video sharing websites and has caused outrage.

"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 netizen said.

"I really don't support this, poor kid, does the kid's mother let the father do whatever he wants to do?" another person said on Sina's popular weibo microblogging service.

The father has been given the nickname of "Eagle Dad" in reference to Chua, who sparked controversy when she wrote a book extolling the benefits of tough parenting.

Chinese reporters who managed to interview the father found out the family was on holiday in New York during the Lunar New Year holiday last month when the video was shot, and the temperature was -13 degrees Celsius (nine degrees Fahrenheit).

The father - an entrepreneur - was trying to train his son to be tough after he was born two months premature, suffering from various health problems.

"Occasionally teaching your child about the cold and fortitude is ok, but if this method becomes a feature of everyday life, then the child's life learning process is just cruel," one person said on Sina's weibo.

China's one-child policy has created a generation of only children widely viewed as spoiled.

At the same time, kids are increasingly being forced by their parents to study hard at the expense of leisure activities to succeed in an increasingly competitive job market.