It used to be that anyone who put on a Santa suit was automatically assumed to be a good person who it was safe for children to be around. But a few rotten apples have spoiled that assumption. Allegations of people presenting themselves as Santas who are drunk or say unkind things to children have occurred. It was custom for children to sit on Santa’s lap while they tell them their heart’s desires, but given a rash of sexual abuse of children by adults in all kinds of leadership roles, this lap-sitting has to be reconsidered. A nearby chair for the tots will usually be just fine.
Santa training and credentialing organizations have emerged to safeguard the good name of Santa and to ensure that those who don the suit act appropriately in the Santa Spirit. Go to the list of Santa organizations on this website to find them! They have high standards for what Santa’s should say and do, and how they should present themselves.
There is also a good list of Santa do’s and don’ts that you will find in the book Re-Imagine Santa. Check it out!
The concern over corrupt Santas is not new. Journalist Alex Palmer tells the story of his great-granduncle, colorful conman John Duval Gluck, who created the Santa Claus Association. Before Gluck started his charity, letters from New York City children to Santa were destroyed, unopened, by the U.S. Post Office. Gluck saw an opportunity, and created the Santa Claus Association in 1913. The organization claimed to use the donations it collected to answer children’s letters to Santa and deliver them Christmas gifts. For a time, the charity did just that. For 15 years money and gifts flowed to the association, and Gluck became a Jazz Age celebrity. But efforts to crack down on corruption in New York ultimately resulted in the uncovering of irregularities that would lead to the charity’s downfall. You can listen to the story here:
You can find another article on the NYC Santa scandal here
It is important to realize that there are all kinds of safeguards put into place by people who want to ensure the safety of children when they encounter a Santa Claus. All of these credentialing organizations are trying to do what they can to promote the Santa Spirit. So if you want to be an official Santa, or if you are in a position where you need to hire someone to represent Santa at a function, do your homework and make sure they have taken the Santa Oath (on this website) and have meet the training and credentialing standards for being a good Santa!