Grinchy Woman Wants to Ban Children From Sitting on Santa's Lap

A parenting activist in Queensland, Australia is making international waves by calling for a ban of children sitting on the laps of shopping mall Santas. Because sitting on strangers' laps is unsavory and how dare we pretend that Santa is any different?


Hetty Johnston, a prominent child protection activist in Australia, said this week, "What we would like to see is shopping centre owners updating their child protection policies ... the directive would be for children to stand beside Santa, unless parents or children request to sit on his knee. Shopping centres have duty of care to protect children on premises."

Because nothing says Christmas magic like standing beside Santa, not understanding why you're not allowed to crawl into his lap like an old friend and whisper the desires of your heart into his ear.

Some Queensland moms agree with Johnston, who ascertains, "We teach kids ... it's okay to say no if they don't feel safe ... this means not having to sit on anyone's lap, including family members, if they don't want to. So why should we make them sit on the lap of a person they don't know dressed as Santa?"

Umm, maybe because if they're little enough, they don't know it's not Santa?

One mother, Jenna McCarthy, said she is on the same page as Johnston when it comes to her 2-year-old Aaliyah. "I wouldn't force her to be held by a random stranger so Santa is no different to me. I can understand the fear. We hype up Christmas so much and we give kids the idea that Santa isn't a stranger. What if they come across someone outside the shopping centre dressed as a Santa?"

Oh yes, it's a common problem for moms, running into random Santas on the street. I can't tell you the number of times I've run into someone resembling jolly old St. Nick in public and had to tell my children to stay away from him. Oh wait, yes I can -- it's zero. That's happened exactly zero times.

Mark Overell has been a Santa for more than 20 years, and thinks this idea is ludicrous. He points out that all shopping center Santas go through stringent background checks, and banning lap-sitting ruins the fun. "I understand where the fear is coming from but the idea that Santa should be lumped in with everyone else is extreme," he said.

"Our Santas are trained to do everything by the book," he continued. "The hands with white gloves 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."

Social commentator David Chalke also believes the debate is silly. "While I recognize the fine work that Bravehearts (Johnston's child advocacy group) does, this is another symptom of our hyper-vigilant, risk adverse society," he said. "Surely it’s better to teach children to recognize and report inappropriate behaviour if it occurs than to issue a needlessly draconian blanket ban on any human contact -- just in case."

Word. How about let's make a deal -- parents that don't want their kids sitting on Santa's lap shouldn't take them to see Santa at their local mall, mmmmkay? No need to ruin it for everyone else.

Do you think sitting on Santa's lap is inappropriate for children?


Image via Michael Pereckas/Flickr

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