Sally Black, Ph.D. of St. Joseph's University brightens our
Jesusmas season by telling us how to explain to children that Santa is broke and will bring them compact fluorescent light bulbs and a family-pak of Twizzlers this year instead of real, electronic gifts. "Restricting exposure to advertising" is one suggestion: instead of staring at screens on which toffs are shown giving each other gift-wrapped luxury cars, kids can be encouraged to ride bikes or even read books. Instead of shopping they can "help an elderly neighbor or participate in a food drive." Professor Black does not suggest ways to deal with their reaction to these proposals, but she is an assistant professor of health services, not a deprogrammer.
Black also cautions that, during such time as their children are allowed in the malls, parents should make sure the little ones don't shoplift. "One out of two children report stealing items less than $50," she says, and in places like Pennsylvania "once a child has put merchandise in a pocket, the crime is committed and the offender faces criminal prosecution and punishment." On the other hand, the child will receive free turkey in jail.