Too Young for Tattoos?
09:30 AM
A couple of weeks ago, 11-year-old Willow Smith (of the Will & Jada Smiths) whipped the media into a little tizzy by revealing what most thought was a tongue piercing. It was actually a magnet.

Silly gossip, but it put a spotlight on the question: How young is too young for a piercing & tattoo? Over the weekend, Fox News & CNN ran a story asking this very question. As noted in the article, there are instances where families are letting kids as young as 10 years old get tattoos -- like Jerry Garrison who lost custody of his grandson for allowing him to be part of "family tradition" as a pre-teen, or Chuntera Napier who was arrested after her young son got a memorial tattoo for his brother.

According to the National Conference on State Legislature's on "Tattoos & Body Piercings for Minors," there's a fight going on between parents who want final say in how they raise their kids and the government:

The battle over whether or not teenagers may receive tattoos or body piercings is typically one fought between parents and children, but the same debate has entered state legislatures. Advocates of prohibiting minors from getting tattoos or body piercings want state laws to reflect parental rights and allow them to have the final word on minors altering their appearances in this way.

A number of states have laws prohibiting these practices on minors without written parental consent. At least 39 states have laws prohibiting minors from getting tattoos. Thirty-one states have laws that prohibit both body piercing and tattooing on minors without parental permission.  Many of the laws across the country establish financial penalties, prison time or both for violators.  Most of the laws define "violator" as the person who performed the tattoo or piercing.
Legal battles aside, what about the ethical duties of tattooists? Should some obligation be placed on them to decide whether this is the right thing for the child? If so, would it be a case-by-case basis or general rule -- no one under a certain age no matter what?

My friends and I like to joke around about what our bodies would look like if we were able to get tattooed as teenagers. I'd probably be covered in Duran Duran portraits. Then again, I ended up removing a good tattoo that I got at age 24 (to celebrate passing the Bar exam) because it didn't fit with the overall body plan, which developed in my thirties. And how will I feel about this plan decades from now?

As we change and evolve, our tattoos remain fixed in one moment. That's what makes them wonderful. And that's what makes them difficult.

What do you think about the "how young is too young" question? Share your thoughts on the Needles & Sins FB group page under this post's comments section.   

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