A man in Texas is being investigated after several Walmart shoppers spotted him pulling a girl by a section of her hair held against his shopping cart. Shoppers Erika and Robert Burch say they asked him to stop, and when he told them to mind their own business they took several photos and posted them to Facebook on Monday. Those photos have since gone viral, with more than 200,000 shares and 16,000 comments, and sparked a larger debate about corporal punishment, parents' rights, and family privacy, reports the Christian Science Monitor. The girl is presumed, but not confirmed, to be the man's daughter.
Witnesses tells KPRC Channel 2 in Houston that the girl was wandering off so the man grabbed her hair to keep her close. Burch says he was "dragging" her and that she kept saying, "Please stop. I promise I won't do it again. Please stop!" Some commenters say the man has a right to choose his own disciplinary methods, but many of the comments are against the man's approach, with some going so far as to call him a "monster" and say that the incident was an example of "bad parenting." Burch tells KTRK-TV in Houston that "you can discipline a child without dragging them by the hair on their head, especially in Walmart." Local police are investigating the incident to determine whether it's part of a "pattern of behavior." (Studies suggest that spanking leads to the same negative outcomes as child abuse.)