Sitting on Santa’s lap—silly Christmas tradition or paedophilic setup?
In full Christmas spirit, my hussie and I took the boys to Gulf City Mall to check out the sights and sounds of the season. The kiddos went into frenzied excitement and we did too- in a high speed, frenzied chase after the little legs, through a maze of elaborately decorated Christmas trees. They led us into the centre of the mall which was ram-packed with long lines of pickneys, all there for a local bank’s initiative to get a free picture on Santa’s lap. After taking in the mass chaos for a couple seconds, we tried to lead the kids away to a “safer” zone that would pose lessened risk of disaster with our two. However, we were confronted by a frantic do-gooder who wanted to give us tickets for the event. I politely declined, but the kind lady persisted. I declined a second time, and with heightened fervour, she asked again. I firmly answered, “Sorry, but I don’t encourage that kinda stupid-ness. Thanks though.” Her mouth dropped open, and we quickly escaped.
In retrospect, I feel guilty for using the word “stupidness” and scaring the lady off. However, as my dad always says “A pot is a pot, and a spoon is a spoon.” And I make no apologies for the following.
We live in a twisted, twisted world today. Being exposed to the multiple cases of paedophilic abuse through the media and other more personal interfaces, I’ve made a conscious decision to carefully analyse every potential gateway.
Question yourself—do you think that a child (regardless of gender or age) sitting on Santa’s lap is an appropriate and safe thing to do? Are you familiar with most of the Santas who do this job? Are background checks conducted before their employment to identify wholesome individuals? Do you think it is unnatural for a grown man (even a decent person) to become aroused when his groin area or surrounds are sat upon? Well, guess what— Santa boners may be more common than you think.
Mind you, this is not an attack on all Santa Clause workers out there. I am aware that most who volunteer for this job are kind-hearted individuals who merely wish to spread platonic joy to the kiddies. My writings here are mainly meant to provoke thought about an age-old tradition that could potentially lead to the development of alarmingly misplaced trust and the endangerment of children.
Children are incredibly vulnerable in their state of young innocence. It is extremely easy to persuade them using the right tactics. That’s what makes this a very real and scary issue. As biological and surrogate parents, we all have a duty to not put our children in places where they may be influenced and preyed upon. If you follow global new stories (go yourself and google Santa Clause sex offenses) you’d realise that there have been many reported cases of child sex offenders being attracted to and working within the children entertainment industry; from clowns, to high profile Barney and Elmo performers, to jolly old Santa Clause himself.
In 2009, their national Postal Service disbanded the popular, 55 year old, “North Pole Santa” program in which volunteers responded to thousands of letters addressed to Santa each year. A red flag was raised when a letter-replying volunteer was identified as a sex offender. Numerous accounts of similar criminal activity were made in the U.S.A., and often these criminals were found unnervingly close to home under guise of occupations such as day care workers, scout leaders and child entertainers (Santa was a popular choice) which kept them in the company of kids.
Further north, Canadian cases indicated similar patterns. The following are highlights from a related 2011 story by journalist Chris Doucette in the Toronto Sun.
“Shawn Chiasson, who was arrested on possession of child porn charges Wednesday, ran a daddy daycare in Brampton, Ajax and most recently out of his home in Oshawa. The 37-year-old operator of Kids Matter Family Daycare has also worked as Santa Claus in malls all over the GTA. Durham Regional Police alleged they found a large collection of child porn on the computers in his home… Boy Scout leader Randy Miller, 40, of Napanee, was busted in October 2010, for possession of child porn. He was better known as Honker the Clown… Daniel Gyselinck, 58, who played Santa in Barrie’s Christmas parade, was arrested in June, 2009, after he was caught with more than 90,000 images and over 1,200 movies of kids involved in sex acts.”
Scary isn’t it?
Let’s take a look into the psyche of the child-sexual offender. Research has proven that many child sexual offenders have mental illnesses, psychological conditions or learning difficulties which affect their cognition and behaviour. Substance abuse and other factors such as stress, marital problems, or the unavailability of an appropriate partner, also increase the desire to act on paedophilic desires. Taking advantage of the adult authoritative power over a child; sex-offenders distortedly see children as attainable sexual beings, and often profess unadulterated love and perceived mutual affinity with their victims.
As evidenced by our disturbing news reports, familial child abuse (sexual and other) is highly prevalent. Some local reports have affirmed that male perpetrators- fathers, step-fathers, grandfathers, uncles and cousins- believed that they were entitled to use the children in their care for their own sick pleasure. Most recorded child sexual offenders are male, but it is believed that the actual number of female paedophiles is grossly underrepresented. (“That’s my boy” anyone? The beginning of Adam Sandler’s highly unsettling and crude comedy was exaggeratedly based a true account…)
Child molesters often craft elaborate plans to get access to children. Specialists have noted these include gaining the trust of a child’s parent, abducting child victims, trading children with other paedophiles, or, even adopting foster children. Offending paedophiles often show interest in the child, gaining the child’s interest, loyalty and affection using various coercive strategies.
This brought to mind, a very grim local report from April of this year… the case of the 5 year old boy being repeatedly buggered by a 64 year old man and four teenagers. (Be disturbed for yourself; go read the story at http://www.trinidadexpress.com/news/5-year-old_buggered__man__64__four_teens_held-146206145.html
While reading this article in angry, embittered tears, I was struck hard by three things:
- The parents/ guardians of the children involved were either unaware of the going-ons (even though it had been recurring for more than a year) or that they came forward late (only after the 5 year old’s case was brought to light)
- The teenage boys were also themselves assaulted by the nasty old man, and in turn, then consented to bugger the 5 year old and each other
- And that THE CHILD WAS LURED INTO HAVING SEX WITH SWEETS AND THE TEENAGERS WITH SMALL AMOUNTS OF MONEY
I’m haunted by this barrage of rape and sexual assault cases that frequent our news headlines. Our society’s obsessive fascination with sex and the perversion of the act has been a sound contributor to the perpetration of child rape and buggery. Sadly, studies have shown that many victims quite usually themselves develop similar feelings, and if these same victims are left untreated, they often resort to perpetrating like crimes; adding to the vicious cycle. And even more sad, is the taboo and fear experienced by care-takers who may have discovered these grim occurrences, but withhold reporting it in an attempt to preserve their child’s image. More often than not, these child victims are cheated their healing process and left without proper therapy and care.
In our lax coconut republic where we lack effective policing strategies in our social systems, anything goes. Many of us are not analytical enough in our child-rearing approaches, and inadvertently may put our children at risk. Our at-risk or highly unsupervised children are sadly more often than not, the unwitting prey. And what exactly have we done to protect our children?
Our “first world” counterparts have taken further precautions to keep these predators at bay. Last year there was a call from Canadian child activist Linda Beaudoin (a survivor of child sexual abuse and now the leader of survivorsspeakout.com) for the registration and licensing of all child entertainers. In addition, earlier this year, Illinois senator Kirk Dillard underwrote a bill prohibiting child sex offenders from participating in holiday events involving children. These offenders would be charged for violating the legislation if found working as Santa Claus, dressing up as the Easter Bunny or passing out candy to children on Halloween.
As concerned, responsible parents and associate parents, we have to be particularly careful not to introduce our children to the element of inappropriate trust. Any form of physical embrace from an unknown adult puts them closer to risk, and in my view, the act of sitting on a stranger’s lap (even if that person is a costumed embodiment of jolly old Santa), is the epitome of such misdirected trust.
Call me paranoid, call me extremist, but in my books a parent can never be too careful.