Calls to ban this innocent Christmas tradition 700



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Over the weekend, Queensland child protection advocate Hetty Johnston made a call to ban children from sitting on Santa’s lap. There has since been an outcry from the public, with some labelling the Bravehearts ambassador as anti-Santa and far too politically correct.

For generations, children have been sitting on Santa’s lap to tell him what they want for Christmas, so the suggestion that this was no longer appropriate was met with controversy, naturally.

Hetty has since come out and said that her call for shopping centres to protect children by directing children to stand next to Santa was not anti-Santa and that she is supportive of parents.

On her Bravehearts Facebook page, Hetty said, “Bravehearts is not anti-Santa or against kids sitting on Santa’s knee if they want to…However our position is that kids shouldn’t have to do something against their will if they feel uncomfortable or unsure about a situation”.

But is Hetty treating this as something bigger than it is? She essentially likens sitting on Santa’s lap to that of a stranger who has not gone through strict police checks, which all Santas in Australia have. According to Hetty, “This is not about taking the fun out of Christmas, this about ensuring that children do not receive mixed message around their rights to say ‘no’ and to feel safe”. So is she backtracking or does she really have a point? Or is this an over-the-top politically correct argument?

It feels as if this is in the same playing field as the recent calls to ban gender-specific toys and books from shelves – a playing field that is filled with people who lobby and rally for every little thing, which, in the scheme of things, are not that crucial. We know that Hetty Johnston comes from a great place and she has a huge heart and empathy for child victims of sexual abuse. She has a tragic personal story behind her campaigning but does that mean that we need to make Santa’s lap another thing for children to be cautious of? Or instead should we just tell them to do what feels most comfortable for them? Is alerting them to a potential threat really how we want children to be raised – thinking everyone at every turn is a threat?

Santa represents something unique to young children – he loves children and would never hurt them; his lap is safe. Yes, we as a society do associate older men (sadly) with child abuse, however it is unfair to tarnish them all with the same brush and that is essentially what lies at the crux of the call to ban sitting on Santa’s lap, let’s face it.



Teaching children to trust is important but where do we draw the line? Which side of the argument about Santa’s lap is correct?

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  1. Australia has turned into the nanny state on steroids!! For generations , probably since Santa was invented children have sat on his knee without any problems. They not only get to talk to Santy, they get a photo and a memory for life. Leave the kids alone!!

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  2. What has happened to our beautiful country? Everything we enjoyed for 200 yrs has all but gone now,it isn’t right that the governments have done this catering for all,but not letting us have our traditions

  3. Stranger Danger and Santa Claus? What is this world coming to when adults feel they

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    • Seriously , why take this out of context? Hetty did say if the child feels uncomfortable. How many times do we go past Santa’s chair in the shopping centers to see and hear a child distressed because they are frightened of Santa but the parent is insisting they sit there for the yearly photo. What type of message does this send to the child? Hetty is not saying children can’t sit on his lap and she is definitely not trying to ‘destroy the magic of Christmas for our kids.

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      • Surely if Hetty only meant for the kids that don’t want to.. or are scared by Santa…. why on earth make it a mandatory thing?? Let the parents be parents… the Govt has taken too many rights from parents…. that’s why we have a society that us full of drugs & crime. Parents aren’t allowed to parent their children.
        Leave the kids alone… leave Christmas alone. Do what WE pay you for and stop trying to get attention by trying to justify your job Hetty.

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        • MERRY CHRISTMAS everyone. I hope Father Christmas / Santa makes your children & you smile & enjoy the spirit in which it is meant.♡♡

    • Merry Christmas Leanna. Best wishes to you and your family. Keep those stimulating comments of yours coming.

    • Be very careful, this lady has brought down a Governor General, how can a poor Santa stand in her way. Ban the Elves too, Hetty, they may be members of the LGBT gang.

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      • Hetty has spent a big part of her life protecting children from dangers. How could anyone disagree with her on this. Who would force a child to sit on ‘Santa’s’ knee if the child finds it too scary!

    • Kathleen and Sandy I’m not running down what Hetty suggests at all. I’m one of those kids who cried every time I saw Santa too, but I survived, and I still love Christmas. I guess what I’m trying to say is, there’s just too much political correctness in this world already. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

    • Totally agree. If the child is distressed, I never understood parents forcing him/her for a photo. There is a gap, in years with no Santa photo, only my kids in the empty Santa seat when it wasn’t open & I took my own photo. Once they showed fear, I didn’t make them. I mean really, we warn them about stranger danger, then they are forced to sit on the lap of a stranger in a scary read suit.

    • Merry Christmas Libbi and Percy. I always look forward to your input to SAS topics too. Best wishes for 2015.

    • The post is misleading. First it says the wants to BAN this practice (I think the definition of ban means to stop the practice completely? Yes?) then it says only if they’re distressed. Surely that comes under good (or bad) parenting and maybe people should be checking all the facts before making sweeping statements. I really can’t comment on the veracity of either statement, as I missed them completely, but there’s a huge difference between banning comething and simply not forcing a child to do something it’s scared of. Ban Santa sitting and you’re playing right into the hands of those who want to ban CHristmas altogether, as it doesn’t come into their religion!

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      • Exactly what I was trying to say Jean.. but I don’t think I did it very well.

    • Thanks for your reply Jean. I was in a shopping centre this week where kids could have a photo taken with Santa. A little girl was screaming in terror by the time it came to her turn. So does this mean, we ban school, vaccinations, visit to the dentist or any other scary thing that kids have an aversion to? Who knows, but I do know even though Santa is not part of the religious side of Christmas, I’d hate to see that tradition be altered in any way. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

  4. This is discusting Parents are there with the children and it is up to them if they want their child to sit on Santas knee. Some real kinky people out there, wanting to spoil childrens joys. I agree what is happening to our country. they have to go out into the real world soon enough. Let them have a few wonderful memories before this has to happen.

  5. It seems to me that our “democratic” government try to cater to all traditions but our own. Hands off, I say. Let us pass down the traditions and values that made Australia.

  6. Pathetic!! Get a life you grinches!! Leave the decision to parents if they want to allow children to sit on Santas knee and butt out with your stupid opinions

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    • yes it may be but it is an ‘isolated’ instance should NOT rule everyone’s enjoyment and lose our traditions as free thinking Australians.
      Deal with this pervert appropriately and make sure all Santas are vetted before they have access to children.
      When we change our traditions it is ALWAYS ruled by fear. God are we all so ruled by fear we have to change everything about our society.

    • Not saying it doesn’t happen Sheryl, I am saying let the parents choose if the children can or can’t sit on Santa’s lap. Teachers have been charged for that sort of behaviour too but have we stopped our kids going to school??? And I am sure it is more rife in places other than seeing Santa… Not condoning that behaviour for one moment mind you!!!

    • Totally agree there are too many experts who never had a childhood trying to make the world a better place through their stupidity. If I want to do something , legal of course, for me or my family then it is my decision which i have the freedom to make.

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