Banning kids from sitting on Santa’s lap? This is a new concern by a child protection activist in Australia. The concern originates with Queensland parents worried about their children sitting on the Santa Claus’ lap at a shopping mall for Christmas photos. Courier Mail reports that Hetty Johnston is the activist spearheading the petition.
“What we would like to see is shopping center owners updating their child protection policies,” Johnston said.
Johnston says the goal is to have children stand beside Santa “unless parents or children request to sit on his knee. Shopping centres have duty of care to protect children on premises.”
A number of mothers in Queensland expressed their feelings on social media in regards to children sitting on Santa’s lap, saying that their feelings of safety are at stake. As Johnston adds, if a child doesn’t want to sit on a family member’s lap, why should they sit on a person’s lap they don’t know just because they’re in a Santa costume?
Queensland’s Mark Overell has been a Santa for 24 years at various malls. While he empathizes with what some parents and child activists are pointing out, he also feels that “the idea that Santa should be lumped in with everyone else is extreme.” He states that Santas are “trained to do everything by the book.” Their white-gloved hands are “only allowed on the children’s shoulder or around the tummy, nowhere else. We are very proud of how we have conducted ourselves over the years and have had very few complaints.”
Some see it as spoiling the excitement for kids to see Santa and others think the argument is ridiculous.
A man who’s been paid to entertain as Santa Claus for 10 years at Singing Telegrams says he’s used to kids being afraid of him at first, but then they realize he’s the one who brings presents on Christmas.
“From my own personal experience, what we’re having is a tradition that parents have taken from their own childhood that they want their kids to have.”
“Parents get the children to stand next to me or try to put them on my knee. Sometimes they cry and are quickly taken off.”
“The experience does vary, so while they generally sit on my knee, it’s personalised depending on what the parents want and how the children react.”
Does the idea of banning kids from sitting on Santa’s lap sound extreme or should shopping malls consider modifying their guidelines?
[Image via East Portland News Source]