A 5-year-old girl got home from her public school in Austin, Texas, last week and asked, “Daddy, is Santa real?” When her father asked why she wanted to know, little Aven Gammage said her teacher told her and the rest of her after-school kindergarten class that Santa doesn’t exist.
“Because Mrs. Fuller said he wasn't real,” said the kindergartner. “She said 'None of you believe in Santa do you?' and said that you and mommy buy all our presents and put them under the tree. She said that you should tell us the truth.”
Aven’s shocked parents complained to the principal of the elementary school where Fuller teaches, arguing that Fuller had no right to spoil the Santa myth for her young students.
Susan Tietz Gammage said her complaint “horrified” the school’s principal who immediately reprimanded Fuller.
“To break that harsh reality to them in such a brutal way is just wrong. Especially since these kids are five. She is just really getting into Santa,” Gammage told the Houston Press
“I want to believe in Santa,” Aven told the paper, despite Fuller’s bad news.
Fuller’s revelation came during an exercise in which the youngsters were asked by another teacher to draw two images, one real and one imaginary.
When one student drew Saint Nick on the real side of her paper, Fuller confronted the child, saying that Santa belonged on the imaginary side.
The belief in Santa among American children apparently remains strong. According to an AP-AOL 2006 poll, 86 percent of those surveyed had believed in Santa as a child.
Despite the fact that parents aren’t being totally honest with their children when they encourage the Santa myth, the lie isn’t detrimental to a child’s development, according to a 2010 analysis of research data by Serge Larivée, a professor with the Université de Montréal
“When they learn the truth, children accept the rules of the game and even go along with their parents in having younger children believe in Santa,” said Larivée. “It becomes a rite of passage in that they know they are no longer babies.”
Larivée’s findings were based on a 1979 study in which 15,000 children, ages 7 to 13, were questioned about how they gradually discovered that Santa didn’t exist.
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