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Is he naughty or nice? A call to ban kids sitting on Santa’s knee.

Should this tradition be banned?
Should this tradition be banned?

We’ve all been there. Forced to sit on the knee of some strange fat bloke in a red suit while wearing an itchy red pinafore and shiny black mary-janes.

I remember quite clearly the anxiety of standing in line waiting to meet the great man himself only to gulp in terror when I had to sit on his knee and tell him my greatest secret – that I wanted a cabbage patch kid so much I would give away all my swap cards for one.

For some reason that year Santa was distracted and obviously didn’t hear me over the howls of the terrified children nearby. He brought a bike.

But it seems that the tradition of sitting on Santa’s knee for an annual photo may be in danger after child protection experts have made a call to ban it.

Hetty Johnson of Bravehearts sent social media into a spin this weekend after telling The Courier Mail that there should be a re-think about the long held practice.

Her words created uproar with Christmas traditionalists terrified that next it would be Rudolf’s red nose decreed as politically incorrect, or that Mrs Claus would be body shamed after eating too much pudding.

Hetty Johnson told News Limited that children should feel safe and not feel pressured to sit on Santa’s knee.

She said that shopping centres should update their child protection policies, with children only sitting on Santa’s knee if parents specifically request it.

“The directive would be for children to stand beside, unless parents or children request to sit on his knee,” she told The Courier Mail.

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“Shopping centres have duty of care to protect children on premises.

We need to teach kids it is ok to feel safe.
We need to teach kids it is ok to feel safe.

“We teach kids it’s ok 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?”

Many Santa’s have spoken out over the weekend saying that there are enough polices in practice already. One Queensland Santa, who has had children crying on his lap for over 24 years told News Limited that all job applicants go through stringent background checks.

“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. 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.”

Reaction on social media was mixed “let’s not get hysterical here and start destroying nice traditions for children” wrote one

“It’s harmless n a Santa photo for god sake. People need to lighten the hell up!!!!! Wtf is this world coming to..”

“In what other situation would you force your child on to a strange mans lap screaming???? NONE!!!! Bloody ridiculous”

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One Mum, Jenna McCarthy told News Limited that she agrees with the call. “I wouldn’t force (her daughter) 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?”

It’s a fair call really.

What do you think? Should it be banned?
What do you think? Should it be banned?

We used to think it was ok to drink half a cask of Blue Duck and drive home from the work Christmas party.

We used to let our kids ride the streets without helmets.

Seat belts, well they are a relatively new invention and car seats – ask any grandparent around and they will tell you tales of bringing home their babies in a cardboard box wrapped in a blanket on the floorboards of the car.

Not every tradition is one that needs to stay.

What’s the harm in allowing parents – and children – to make their own decisions about whether or not they want their kids to sit on the lap of some stranger with a fake beard?

I’m sure the old bloke himself would just as happy hearing Christmas wishes whispered from the seat next to him rather than his lap if that’s what the child before him preferred. After all isn’t that just what Santa wants – every child and parent to find peace, happiness and joy in the festive season. (And that elusive Cabbage Patch kid..)

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