I have a small junk drawer in my kitchen. In it you will find a few markers, some twist ties, a variety of small notepads, a few old corks, some outlet covers left over from when there were toddlers in the house, a battery or two, a small screwdriver, myriad other odds and ins and a number of temporary tattoos. This collection of tattoos includes butterflies, animals, Pixar character, pizza joint logos and more.
We've been accumulating this collection for the last 5 years. They've come from Valentine's cards, birthday parties, restaurants, nannies, trick-or-treating, various community events, etc.
My kids love tattoos. I can't remember when it started or where the first tattoo came from, but what I do know is that they quickly figured out how to apply them by themselves & they wear them with great pride; the bigger and more colorful the better.
Allure of Ink
I have never understood the allure of tattoos; whether temporary or permanent. This is certainly something I will never do. The pain alone is enough to stop me. I almost didn't have children solely based on the pain of childbirth. And yet, I find other's tattoos very interesting; the colors, the design, the statements being made. They are pieces of art on living canvasses.
Lately, I've been seeing more and more people with tattoos; many with several tattoos, bright and big and covering large parts of their bodies; people shopping at Target; the baristas at my favorite coffee shop; parents at t-ball games; at the pool. In fact, as I write this, while seated at a coffee shop, a man with tattoos reaching out from his short sleeves, peeking out from his collar and dotting his forearms came in and sat at the table next to mine. I don't know what's responsible for this societal shift, but there appears to have been one.
Protection for Government Interference?
It's fine for an adult who understands and accepts that permanent ink displayed on body parts that may be visible even when dressed from head to toe may not be looked upon favorably in certain professionals, may not always be in vogue and most certainly may not always fit one's personal style and preferences to make that decision to get a permanent tattoo, but how much liberty should a minor have in making this decision?
According to National Conference of State Legislatures, as of December 2011, there were 39 states with laws restricting tattooing minors. Many of these laws include body piercing, as well. Note that I used the word "restricting" not "prohibiting." Many of these laws provide that a minor under 18 is prohibited from getting a tattoo or body piercing unless there is parental consent.
Should it be in the parent's control? Is this an issue of cultural, societal and personal preferences?
Most parents aren't suggesting that their children get inked or pierced or giving in to such requests from their tweens or teens. And yet, if mom and/or dad are covered in tatts or cultural and societal norms aren't mainstream and the parents and/or guardians think it's fine for junior to get a tattoo at age 5 or pierced bellybutton at 15, is that OK?
Or would that be abuse to be reported to child protective services?
Well, in Florida, whose law changed in January 2012, a grandfather with custody of his grandson found himself in hot water when he allowed the 10 year-old to get a tattoo of his initials on his leg; a family tradition.
The FL law had previously allowed minors under 16 to get a tattoo with parental consent. It now restricts minors under 16 from getting tattoos except for medical or dental reasons and minors 16 to 18 are permitted to go forward with the inking with the consent of a parent.
The grandfather lost custody of his grandson based on his decision to allow the tattoo, regardless of the law restricting this action.
Often it's the tattoo artist who gets in gets in trouble with the law, as well as the parent.
I'm not a fan of tattoos; permanent or temporary. And I hope my boys never decide they should mark their skin with ink of the permanent kind, at least. But if they do want to get a tattoo or pierce through their skin and add ornamentation of some sort, I can guarantee you it will not be while they are minors and are required to seek parental consent.
As for the law, there may be those who see this as government interference into the rights of parents to make decisions for their kids, but I see it as protection from parents who may not quite appreciate the full repercussions of allowing minors to make body modifications at such a young age. Over and out...