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Santa and sir forbidden to touch children

THE risk of child abuse allegations is forcing male teachers and department store Santas to adopt the same set of physical-contact guidelines.

Alison Jones of Auckland University, New Zealand, interviewed new primary teachers, and found each had learned that cuddling children, letting them hold your hand, lean against you or sit on your knee were "improper pleasures".

However, high fives and hand shakes are the new forms of acceptable masculinity.

Ms Jones also attended a Santa school, a one-day class for seasonal staff in shoping malls. Santas were told not to bend down to pick up children, only to touch them on the shoulder or arm, and to avoid children's arms round the neck. Gloved hands must be visible at all times. With teenage girls, Santa is advised to sit with his hands glued to the arms of his chair.

Ms Jones said: "Men are reverting to the traditional masculine ways of showing affection, once criticised for lacking emotional warmth."

'Learning proper masculine pleasure: Santa and the teacher' by Alison Jones: a.jones@auckland.ac.nz

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