Should Children Get Tattoos and Piercings?

Written: 23 August, 2000

Recently while walking around outside, I noticed a young boy and an older man (presumably father and son) talking to someone in a car. I noticed that the boy, who looked around 12, maybe younger, had what appeared to be a tattoo that ringed around his upper arm like barb-wire. I wasn't sure if it was a real tattoo or what. Apparently the person in the car mentioned the tattoo, and the kid said, "Yeah, and I'm gonna get more." The dad said, "No, you're not," shaking his head. But the son said confidently, "Yes, I am." I don't know if that tattoo was real or not, but if it was indeed a real tattoo, I can't believe a parent would let their kid get one. But I haven't been a kid in many years, so maybe tattoos are common among kids today. Even if it is popular today, I still wouldn't let my kid get one. I wouldn't get a tattoo myself, because I hate the idea of doing something permanent like that to my body.

But what was almost as disturbing was the defiance expressed by the kid. He dismissed his dad's "No" like it was none of the dad's business. The kid didn't seem to care that he would be defying his dad's wishes. The kid could disobey his dad with a smile, exhibiting no signs of guilt or shame. He could do whatever he wanted, and nobody could tell him otherwise.

On the other hand, maybe the father was too weak to make his "No" matter. Maybe the kid didn't respect his dad. Maybe the kid learned to think he could do whatever he wanted because he learned that his parents wouldn't put their foot down with him, that they'd always give in to him in the end.

I'm speculating wildly, of course, about the kid and his dad. But those are the kinds of thoughts that flew through my head as I witnessed that scene.

Also recently I noticed someone at work showing off their new infant. I'm not sure how old the kid was. Less than a year, I think. Anyway, I noticed that the infant had a pierced ear. I guess this is common nowadays with some people -- maybe they want their infant girls to have pierced ears so that when they are showing off the baby, people won't mistake the baby for a boy.

That kinda bugs me, because clearly the infant had no choice in whether she wanted a piercing or not. And aren't babies cute enough without needing earrings?

So, what do you think of these two examples? Would you let your kid get a tattoo, or would you pierce your baby's ears?