A disturbing video appeared on YouTube on Jan. 28 and quickly went viral showing a small child (probably two or three years of age) being held by a woman, presumably his mother, while the toddler is apparently forced to get a tattoo. The terrified toddler wails and tries to thrash away throughout the painful process while the woman holds him.
What appears to be a tattoo gun is held above the child's tiny arm and repeatedly inserted while a fluid (blood? ink?) is wiped away. The tool does not look like a medical needle such as what would be used to give a smallpox vaccination. It looks like a tattoo gun. The video, which appears to have been shot in a hispanic country since the language spoken is Spanish, begs the question: how old is old enough to get a tattoo?
The United States has no federal law mandating a minimum age to be tattooed. At age 18, a teenager is legally considered an adult in the U.S., but some states do allow minors to be tattooed with parental consent and/or parental presence. However, in Tenn. anyone who commercially tattoos someone under 18 commits a Class A misdemeanor.
A Google search turns up any number of cases of children getting tattoos in the U. S. In Oct. 2012, a N.C. mom was arrested for giving her 11-year-old daughter a small tattoo. And in Jun. 2012, a Fla. grandfather who tattooed his 10-year-old grandson's initials on his leg had all the grandchildren removed from his home and placed in foster care. Experts say the reason more toddlers are not removed from homes for getting tattooed is officials never find out about the children's tattoos.
Tattooing children is a bad idea health-wise. Although currently popular, tattoos can lead to infections, diseases and other health problems. (See Are tattoos safe? Why getting inked may cause hepatitis, HIV, MRSA, etc.) Children are especially susceptible to infections and disease.
In addition to the potential health and legal issues, tattooing children is usually considered abusive and emotionally traumatic. So let your children grow up without traumatizing them and subjecting them to health hazards by sticking needles in to give them a tattooo--a tattoo they might not even want when they are grown. Tattooing toddlers and children is simply not a smart idea.
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