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