Should You Intervene When a Parent Harshly Disciplines a Child in Public?

A woman in a Walmart in Texas last week who took photos of a man pushing a shopping cart with his daughter’s hair wrapped around its handle helped touch off a debate about when, or if, a bystander should intervene when a parent harshly disciplines a child in public.

The woman, Erika Burch, was with her husband, Robert, in the store in Cleveland, Tex., about 45 miles north of Houston on Sept. 19 when they spotted the girl walking extremely close to the cart. Her head was leaning at an odd angle as the man dragged her alongside the cart by her hair, Ms. Burch said in an interview.

Mr. Burch, 44, said the girl, who the police said was 5, was crying: “Please stop! I won’t do it again.” He added that she was “just begging the man to let her go.”

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