Ban Children from Santa’s Knee, Says Child Safety Expert

All I want for Christmas is for you to LET ME GO!!!!

GET hyheenntit
AWAY FROM ME, YOU PERVERT…and please bring me a toy firetruck. 

 Assume all Santas are child molesters and teach kids not to sit on their laps. That’s what a well-known “child safety expert” in Australia is suggesting.

Child protection activist Hetty Johnston this week backed the concerns of Queensland parents worried the time had come to stop their children sitting on the lap of shopping centre Santas for Christmas photos.

“What we would like to see is shopping centre owners updating their child protection policies,” Ms Johnston said.

“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.”

Note the weird idea that somehow shopping centers are ENDANGERING kids if they let them sit on Santa. With mom or dad right there. With a line of kids waiting to sit in the same scary knee.

What worries me is that in five or ten years, this could be a normal way of thinking. The same way teachers had to give up hugging students, Santa’s lap could become a legal minefield. 

Wikipedia says Johnston’s desire is “to make Australia the safest place in the world for children.”

And if they all live in fear of Santa as a terrifying predator, I guess that’s a small price to pay.


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47 Responses to Ban Children from Santa’s Knee, Says Child Safety Expert

  1. Sarah in WA December 8, 2014 at 12:22 am #

    Kids themselves are pretty good at letting you know what they’re comfortable with. My oldest readily sits in Santa’s lap, while my youngest prefers to sit or stand next to him. It’s all good. There’s no reason to overthink it.

    I’m in a local moms group on Facebook, and this subject came up. I was surprised at the number of moms who find the whole concept of Santa to be creepy. I guess they didn’t grow up with it, or have forgotten. Fine, really. But don’t impose this idea on everyone else, please. Some people find Santa to be magical.

    If you don’t like the concept of Santa, don’t have your kids visit him. But let others do as they like. Seems pretty simple to me.

  2. Wendy W December 8, 2014 at 1:19 am #

    OH, but we CAN’T let people do as they please! We must micromanage everyone’s lives and force them to live with the same twisted mindset as the people who dream this stuff up.

  3. Earth.W December 8, 2014 at 3:22 am #

    I won’t bite my tongue where Hetty Johnston is involved. She is nothing but a piece of vile from a dragon’s arsehole. I would like it if she went and got herself some counseling instead of encouraging the viewpoint that every male is a child molester. And now, every Santa is a threat to children.

    Having worked as a Santa in Brisbane shopping centres, you are watched all day. People, women especially, stand there and watch every single movement you make just to catch you out for touching a child the wrong way. There is no trust at all left and vile pieces of shit like Hetty need to fuck off to the mental health hospital for acute attention and leave the children alone to enjoy life.

  4. Elin December 8, 2014 at 3:43 am #

    Teach your child that she is never obligated to sit on someone’s lap, hug someone or have any bodily contact they do not wish to have and everything will be fine. Have the Santas ask “Do you want to stand beside me or sit on my lap?” so that children feel they have a choice but do not forbid them from sitting on Santa’s lap “to protect them”, if they are taught to evaluate the situation they will not be at any harm.

  5. hineata December 8, 2014 at 4:53 am #

    I don’t think you need to worry too much about this one . I’m not sure where she’s getting traction from, but am in Melbourne at the moment and the idea seems to be getting the hysterical disbelief it deserves…. everyone polled, parents , the general public and tv ‘personalities’ alike all seem to think she belongs in the loony bin.
    I guess the idea that someone could even have the gall to say something so dumb in the first place is troubling, nut then it is a free world. Speechwise, anyway 😊

  6. BL December 8, 2014 at 4:56 am #

    Don’t you just love how this Johnston creature refers to her recommendations as “updating”? Classic argumentum ad novitatem.

    Well, I’ve got some updating for her. Australia isn’t a penal colony anymore, and its people don’t have to answer to jailers like Hetty Johnston. How’s that for updating?

  7. Lexis @ December 8, 2014 at 5:41 am #

    The santa closest to us would stand behind the chair for the photo (if the kid was too scared to sit on his knee). The resulting photos are creepy. Like evil santa lurking in the background is going to get you creepy. Glad my son held it together for a knee photo.

  8. LisaS December 8, 2014 at 7:37 am #

    My limited (3 years) experience with mall Santa is that Earth W is right: everyone is watching the poor man, morning noon, & night, in microscopic detail. I doubt most of us would be employed with that kind of scrutiny. But Elin really hits the nail on the head: we should teach our kids to evaluate situations and deal with them appropriately. We’re not going to be around every moment of evey day of their lives to protect them.

  9. Montreal Dad December 8, 2014 at 7:41 am #

    World’s Stupidest Pedophile’s Career Plan:

    Choose a job that brings you into contact with children:
    2-Once a year
    3-Under heavy supervision
    4-On camera
    5-With no possibility of grooming them or arranging further meetings

    If you decide to become a Mall Santa cuz yer a perv, you’re probably too stupid a perv to worry about.

  10. Donna December 8, 2014 at 7:52 am #

    The only people I know that might be into this ban would be mall santas themselves. My stepfather did it for awhile and used to get so frustrated at the very many parents who insisted that their obviously terrified children sit on his lap.

  11. MichaelF December 8, 2014 at 8:04 am #

    We bring my kids to the Mall Santa in New England every fall after Thanksgiving, I can’t recall any time in the past 5 years that any of my kids have actually sat on Santa’s lap. Pretty much every time they sit beside, and I am ok with that. People who believe there is a danger everywhere will see dangers everyone, people like that should just stfu.

    I notice though that its now the shopping centers as the ones responsible for Santa and protecting the children. This smells like a setup for a lawsuit to me, pretty soon some child will be “touched” and then the shopping center will be sued for millions.

  12. Joan December 8, 2014 at 8:37 am #

    Australia, you’re a country full of things that will kill children dead. Poisonous spiders, snakes, and octopuses, sharks, jellyfish, giant crocodiles, riptides, the weather… Not that Australia isn’t a lovely place, but you’re never going to be “the safest place in the world for children”and banning Santa’s lap isn’t going to get you any closer to that ludicrous goal.

  13. lollipoplover December 8, 2014 at 8:45 am #

    “This place reminds me of Santa’s workshop. Except it smells like mushrooms and everyone looks like they wanna hurt me.”
    ~Buddy the Elf

    The abuse that goes on at malls is rampant. Try taking a *free* photo of your kid with Santa (lap or no lap) and wait for the Santa security detail to close in and force you to buy their ridiculously expensive photo packages for the great price of $49.95 with free Christmas ornament. THAT is abuse!

    We don’t go to mall Santas.
    Actually, we don’t even go to malls. Our local firehouse holds a tree lighting ceremony each year and Santa(a local firefighter) and Mrs. Claus visit the kids…free photos, hot cocoa, kids see their friends, and all of the money goes toward a good cause: our firehouse. I don’t care if my kids want to sit on Santa’s lap or not- it’s their call and always should be. The boy never would, the girls wanted to be his best friend. I was more worried they would get so excited they would pee on Santa.

    Perhaps this “Child Safety Expert” should remind parents that most child abuse happens at home when kids sit on Uncle Earl’s lap. Concentrate your work, Ms. Johnson, on ending abuse where it is most prevalent(in the home) vs. ruining innocent traditions at Christmas time and demonizing Santa.

  14. lollipoplover December 8, 2014 at 10:04 am #

    Don’t call Santa names, he may get mad.

  15. Maggie December 8, 2014 at 10:51 am #

    And in ten years, Santa will need to have a Q clearance to be a mall Santa, and allowed no closer than 5 feet from any child, ever.

    Kudos to Montreal Dad, you got that right!

  16. K2 December 8, 2014 at 10:58 am #

    Instilling fear. I don’t think this is isolatedd as just a Santa thing. I think it’s part of a plicl mvmnt.

  17. Andrew December 8, 2014 at 11:46 am #

    Wasn’t there a movement in Australia a few years back that wanted to change Santa’s traditional Ho,Ho,Ho to Hey,Hey,Hey because it was offensive to women? Come-on Australia, get a grip. You’re becoming more like us Americans every day.
    And besides, its not like all Santas are like this.

  18. Andrea December 8, 2014 at 12:06 pm #

    The thing that is BS about this is that it blatantly and overtly, without shame, takes the role of parenting AWAY FROM THE PARENT. If I don’t feel comfortable with my child sitting on the Santa’s lap, then I will not have my kid sit on Santa’s lap, or we don’t visit Santa. I don’t need Hetty Johnson telling malls how to parent my child WHEN I’M STANDING RIGHT THERE. Shopping centers do not have a duty to protect my children, *I* have a duty to protect my children.

    This is how it starts, folks. Subtly. Next thing you know, children will be taken at birth and raised in camps “for their safety and well being,” because no one trusts parents to do anything.

  19. pentamom December 8, 2014 at 12:08 pm #

    I wonder if there are any stats on Santas-as-offenders. Intuitively, it seems like a Santa would be one of the safest people around — do even the creepiest offenders think that it’s good pickings to molest children in front of a crowd with their parents standing right there?

  20. Nadine December 8, 2014 at 12:09 pm #

    So only talk to santa through phones, behind glass? orange is the new red?

  21. marie December 8, 2014 at 1:13 pm #

    The directive would be for children to stand beside Santa, unless parents or children request to sit on his knee.

    In fairness, she isn’t trying to ban sitting on Santa’s lap; the child can sit there if the child or the parents ask for it. This is probably the way it works, even without the directive. The kid climbs unbidden onto Santa’s knee or else the parents plunk the toddler there.

    The motivation for the directive, though, is based on the idea that any man given the chance would molest a child. That is the danger here–she is promoting the idea that men are dangerous.

    Parents of boys should be incensed at the idea that their boys will inevitably be molesters.

  22. hineata December 8, 2014 at 1:19 pm #

    Again, nothing to worry about here. Everyone seems to be of the same opinion as Earth W…the woman is some kind of head case.

    There is a dreadfully sad story also playing again and again on the news about a nine month old who has been struck by a forklift and is in a critical condition. I mention this only because unlike the usual case in New Zealand, so far there seems to be nothing but sympathy for the dad who was driving….it seems the family had ‘fallen on hard times’ and was living at the yard where said forklift was used. In NZ there would have been sympathy but also more immediate endless reminders about how we should always look for kids near vehicles….like, duh!
    So my vast three day current experience of the great West Island of New Zealand is that they are mulling along quite sensibly 😊. Good for you, Ockers í ½

  23. Gillian December 8, 2014 at 1:38 pm #

    This is already happening in Ireland. A recreational centre I worked in a few years ago had a ‘Santa’ weekend every year in the run up to Christmas. Santa was a very kindly old gentleman who lived nearby and who adored children so absolutely perfect for the part. The centre insisted that children sat on a seat beside Santa and there was no sitting on his lap even for photos and even if the parents requested it. Oddly there were no restrictions on them walking around the very large horses who pulled his carraige during the grand entrance and exit.

  24. Ben December 8, 2014 at 2:02 pm #

    Exactly what is the danger here? If the mall takes child safety seriously, they background check their Santa like any other employee. That should be the extend of the precautions.

    If I lived in Australia, I’d ignore this expert and ask Improv Everywhere permission to perform “Mall Santa Musical” ( in malls nationwide to promote sitting on Santa’s lap to fight this madness.

  25. CLamb December 8, 2014 at 2:13 pm #

    What? An oddly dressed very old man who secretly visits homes in the middle of the night, who “Sees you when you’re sleeping.”, who keeps a list of all the bad girls. Oh, the horror!

  26. no rest for the weary December 8, 2014 at 3:32 pm #

    More reasons to be grateful I was raised without Christmas. I would have freaked right out if I had to sit on some strange, bearded guy’s lap for a photo!

    Be more worried about your kids communicating freely with you about their experiences, don’t try to control every experience they have!

  27. pentamom December 8, 2014 at 4:03 pm #

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

    Okay, now I’m just confused. How is this a “directive?” Here’s the “directive”: they can stand next to Santa, or they can sit on his knee if they want to. What is it forbidding, Santa strong-arming a wriggling, struggling child onto his knee? Was this happening anywhere?

  28. ChicagoDad December 8, 2014 at 4:44 pm #

    “Ban child safety experts!” Implores child on Santa’s knee.

  29. Silver Fang December 8, 2014 at 5:52 pm #

    She’s loony tunes. Oh, look! I found her Twitter. @hettyjohnston Let’s give her hell.

  30. John December 8, 2014 at 6:11 pm #

    Quote: “What worries me is that in five or ten years, this could be a normal way of thinking. The same way teachers had to give up hugging students, Santa’s lap could become a legal minefield.”

    That could very well happen the way things are going with the paranoia over kids and safety today. Years ago back in the 70s within the mens’ bath house at the city swimming pool, there was an open dressing area with just a few private booths. Men and boys not related were naked in front of each other getting dressed and undressed and nobody thought anything of it. There were also about 6 shower heads in the shower area and it wasn’t unusual for a young boy and an adult man, not related, to be standing next to each other under their respective shower head….butt naked and showering!! Nobody got raped or molested. They were just minding their own business taking a shower. As long as everybody within that locker room and shower area was of the same sex it was considered appropriate despite of the age difference.

    But today in swimming pool locker rooms that both kids and adults utilize, nobody completely undresses from what I’ve seen. It’s looked on as being very taboo and inappropriate for an adult to completely disrobe in front of a child even if they are of the same sex. There were times I’ve removed my bathing suit after a swim to take a shower because obviously it’s difficult to clean in all of the critical areas with a bathing suit on! But I’ve gotten so many nasty looks that I had to stop that practice before somebody actually called the police on me. In health club locker rooms, nakedness is not a problem because there are no kids around. But anywhere there are kids, even in a same sex dressing room, nakedness is not the norm today and looked on as being very inappropriate and I think sometimes even criminal.

    It’s just been engrained in peoples’ minds that a child should NEVER see an unrelated adult naked and visa versa as if it will scar the kid for life. Think we’re getting a tad bit prudish in American society in MY opinion.

    But hopefully there is enough of an outcry as indicated in the blog below that article, that a child sitting on Santa’s knee will not result in Santa being put on a sex offender registry and the child being forced into counseling!

  31. Beth December 8, 2014 at 7:44 pm #

    “Parents of boys should be incensed at the idea that their boys will inevitably be molesters.”

    This is what I ALWAYS wonder when I hear of “eek a male” stories. Don’t any of these fanatics have sons? Not to mention husbands and brothers? The fact that all males are suspect just makes me sad for the world view they’re raising their boys with.

  32. Jenny Islander December 8, 2014 at 8:23 pm #

    Stuff like this reminds me of a horror story I read in which a really, really bad person sets off a magic spell that makes real live monsters out of the fears of the children in a home for the mentally disturbed. Some of the kids went through some awful stuff, so their fears are memories. But the kid with the absolutely worst, grossest monster is the one whose unbalanced aunt indoctrinated her with a paralyzing fear of cancer–but never explained what it was. She imagines an oozing blob-beast salivating acid and invading every corner of the room…

    Or as so many people have said, this is not how the real world operates. People do not become mall Santas in order to molest children! (And neurotypical primary-aged children do not drink sunscreen, and molesters do not lurk behind the trees on the half block to school, and if somebody actually carjacked you at the pump they wouldn’t instantly decide to become torture-murderers upon discovering your children in the back seat, and…)

  33. Peter December 8, 2014 at 8:56 pm #

    Santa(a local firefighter) and Mrs. Claus visit the kids…

    Mrs. Claus is hanging out with firefighters dressed like her husband? Kinky…

    Fortunately, when I grew up, the real Santa would come visit us…
    :^D :^D :^D :^D :^D

  34. Papilio December 9, 2014 at 3:38 am #

    And your American Santa Claus isn’t even a Catholic bishop anymore!

  35. Angela December 9, 2014 at 7:52 am #

    Beth – “Don’t any of these fanatics have sons? Not to mention husbands and brothers?”

    When my step-son was younger – 2 or 3 maybe? – He had a very bad cold so Hubby and I left him home with my then 10 year old daughter and 11 year old son while we went to the store to get him some medicine and treats. His maternal grandmother stopped by while we were gone (she had a habit of stopping by at inopportune times) and had a little tizzy. She called the boy’s mom who freaked out and refused Hubby’s visitation for more than a month due to it.

    When confronted, she insisted that “boys of divorce often turn into pedophiles” and we should have never left him with my son. I avoided pointing out that she has 2 sons with different fathers, both of whom she left within months of the boys’ births.

    It’s hypocrisy, I don’t know what else to say about it. There is nothing else that can be said about it.

  36. SOA December 9, 2014 at 8:34 am #

    The only thing I don’t like about Santas is when the parents FORCE their child to sit on his lap while they are screaming bloody murder. I have seen once where the kid was very clear he did not want to sit on Santa’s lap and the parents kept trying to make him over and over. Not only did his screaming disrupt everyone but they held up the Santa line too. Huge parenting fail.

    If the kid does not want a pic with Santa or to talk to Santa or sit on Santa’s lap-let it go. You don’t need that experience that badly.

  37. Warren December 9, 2014 at 8:46 am #

    People are saying not to worry about the headcase, and her ways. Well I say worry, because these paranoid types tend to find followers, who will eventually find some way to report how Santa made her child uncomfortable, and it will snowball from there. Ignoring this will not make it go away. Ignoring it will only make the headcase and her flock seek other ways of making their point. And I firmly believe that these types of people are not above making false accusations, in order to make their point and gain momentum.

  38. Jill December 9, 2014 at 10:30 am #

    We need to update our child protection practices by replacing Santa at the mall (such a creepy old man!) and his elf helper (creepy helper to creepy old man) with a police officer and a social worker.
    The kids sit in Officer Friendly’s lap and he asks whether mommy and daddy have been good that year. If they say yes, he asks if they’re sure. Eventually they come up with an incident where they were denied ice cream because they didn’t do their chores or something of that nature. Then the social worker takes them away to a foster home where they’ll be safe, and Officer Friendly arrests mom and dad for child abuse.
    God bless us every one, as Tiny Tim said. (The Dickens one, not the creepy musician.)

  39. MichaelF December 9, 2014 at 12:17 pm #

    We did Santa photos last night, no line, in and out in 5 minutes. Kids had a blast and they sat next to Santa, since this was on my mind I asked about sitting on Santa’s lap, neither the 9 year old or 4 year old were interested. Nothing happened. No scares, just some nice memories of Santa and a family photo. Good times!

  40. lollipoplover December 9, 2014 at 2:13 pm #

    Wonder what Hetty would think of this:

  41. a December 9, 2014 at 2:59 pm #

    I am pleased to note that teachers in our elementary school still feel free to receive hugs and give them back…

    People will not be satisfied until there is no fun left in this world.

  42. SOA December 9, 2014 at 4:04 pm #

    Oh yes the sleeping Santa. My friend got a sleeping Santa pic with her first daughter. The baby was sound asleep so Santa posed with the sleeping baby like they both fell asleep while he was reading her the Night before Christmas book. It turned out really cute.

  43. Nic December 9, 2014 at 7:11 pm #

    I am loving some of the sensible Aussie responses below. Seriously Hetty get a life! and stop quoting ” parents” as if this means more than a handful of helicoptering, scaremongering nuffies.

  44. EricS December 9, 2014 at 10:37 pm #

    I’m probably going to get flack for saying this. But if they are now teaching their kids (yes, children learn what they are told) that it’s not good to sit on “Santa’s” lap, maybe, just maybe, teach them that Santa isn’t real to begin with. Then they will have no reason to be even near the jolly bearded guy in the mall. Hey, this is no more stupid than what these idiotic adults come up with every other month to “protect” children. Granted, some of them mean very well. But caring fearfully, is completely different than caring smart. Only smart, logical, and commonsensical people will get what that means.

  45. theora December 10, 2014 at 12:36 am #

    Rest assured that Hetty Johnson is not taken seriously by anyone I know. Whenever anything happens to a child she is always front and centre calling for the responsible person’s head, although I must admit I didn’t hear anything from her when a 13 year old got bitten by a small shark a couple of months ago, would have thought she would have been calling for the locking up of all sharks in Australia over that one.

    Unfortunately because she maybe once had something useful to say about children, now she gets called upon every time the media needs a comment about anything to do with a child so most people I know just ignore her.

    As for Santa, I agree whatever your child is comfortable with is the way to go.

  46. oncefallendotcom December 11, 2014 at 11:53 pm #

    Whether in the States or Down Under, Victim Industry spokespersons are still peddlers of bovine excrement.


  1. Maggie's Farm - December 11, 2014

    Thursday morning links

    Assume that all Santas are perverts How Victoria’s Secret and its fashion show went primetime — after its founder killed himself McDonald’s Menu Is Completely Out Of Control Lena and Grace Dunham: Life in the Shame-Free Zone Treasury Department S