Inking Arms, Piercing Ears, and Removing Foreskins: The Inconsistency of Parental Consent Laws

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About Brian D. Earp

Brian D. Earp is a researcher in psychology, philosophy, and ethics at
the University of Oxford. He is also a professional actor and singer.
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  1. John Anderson says:

    How is it best to enforce a law when it concerns children? Is it better to wait until abuse happens before addressing it as was the case? I don’t wish to characterize it as abuse, but that is what the law determined and what if the parent allowed the child to tattoo Spongebob on his forehead? Is it better to prevent the parent from exercising this discretion until reviewed by a third party like the way judicial bypass laws work in abortion cases except that the parent would be seeking a waiver of the law.

    What would happen if the child waited until he was 18 or even 13? Would he not want the tattoo? If not, there’s your answer. If so, he could still get it. Until then maybe a locket with his picture could serve. I think children should be allowed to get tattoos with parental consent, but 10 is too young. They should at least hit puberty first.

    From what I understand, if you don’t put something in your ear, the hole will close up. I don’t know if this becomes unnecessary at some point and the hole becomes permanent. There is risk of infection, but it could be minimized through regulation and there is no permanent loss of hearing or other utility so it should be okay. I believe that a parent should be restricted to one whole each ear. When the child turns 18 they could decide on more.

  2. I’m biased on this topic. I’m pierced and moderately tattooed person and nothing ruined my experience at the shop faster than parents dragging in their 15/16 year old (almost universally) daughters to get some work done. They screeched, squealed and obviously were not thinking about what the long term effects of what they were about to do. But the parent’s consent. While I don’t see it as abusive I do see it as questionable.

    I also find it interesting that parents and minors are allowed to consent to getting their ears gunned at a shop in a mall but can’t walk into a piercer and get it done correctly with the right tools. More over tools that are able to be sterilized and not necessarily have microspatter of disease spreading blood on them. Or at least here minors can consent. So you have one 17 year old girl wielding a dirty weapon to poke a hole inappropriately on another minors body (some of these mall stations will gun your nose or the cartilage on your ear etc.). But heaven forbid if that same child goes to a clean piercer.

    Tattoos and piercings are heavily stigmatized other than the female ear piercing thing. I feel that law derives from the stigmatization of that whole industry more than it does from the potential of abuse.

  3. Random_Stranger says:

    So what would happen if a parent consented to having his son’s foreskin tattooed?

  4. Very well argued brian. There should be a ban on forced infant Child circumcisuon for boys as there currently is for girls

  5. Certainly a very valid argument. Unneccisary Neonatal circumcision should be banned. My mother is a GP and she always advises against it. If the human body was ment to have a piece of shin cut off it, I dont think evolution would have allowed it the come into existence. Having an infant circumcised for non medical reasons is totally cosmetic and entirely cosmetic.

  6. Anyone who can be trusted to decide whether or not to have an abortion should be able to decide on their own whether or not to get a tattoo.

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