More and more frequently it seems that stories of minors getting body art are turning up in the news. Sometimes it's a piercing, sometimes it's a tattoo but almost always there's an angry parent, a rebellious teenager and a cadre of lawyers involved. Can these situations be avoided? Are the rules there for a reason? And does the person truly at fault get the blame?
First of all, age limits or restrictions for piercing and body art really do exist for good reasons. In the United States, young adults reach the age of legal majority when they turn 18. Most often this coincides with the last year of mandatory school education, aka high school. This signals they are now considered adults who are entirely responsible for their own legal decisions and actions. It's also a point in time when most of them have gone through the majority of puberty, where the body changes and takes on secondary characteristics and achieves physical maturity as well.
As body art has grown in popularity, so has the desire or even the demands of teens to pursue it. Like just about anything else young people see adults do, they want to do it too. However, the teen years and the effects of puberty and social differentiation often plays havoc on the decision-making process. It's the time in a young person's life when their tastes and preferences change the most, with the least rhyme or reason behind it. It's when young people are supposed to make mistakes so they can learn, and then not repeat them as adults, nor have to live with them for the rest of their lives (hopefully).
Almost universally, the United States has adopted guidelines that forbids the practice of body art on minors, and only in some instances is it permitted with the permission of a minor's legal guardian. However, teens have been quite adept at trying to skirt these rules. When the first piercing age limits were imposed, many late-age teens brought along older siblings, boyfriends or other adults to have someone to provide permission. Now, many states have banned any underage piercing, even with mom or dad's permission and if they do allow it, the teen and parents had better be prepared to show appropriate legal ID that confirms relation or legal guardianship.
Admittedly there are disreputable or lazy tattooists who are trying to pay their rent who turn a blind eye, take the money and do the tattoo on an underage client. That's the number one headline you'll see for tattoo complaints. But some artist then say it's the fault of whoever was manning the counter. And some kids have gone as far as to get fake IDs. If that's the case, shouldn't the person who issued it to the youth in question be the person being sued? But what about the minor who worked so hard to deceive the adults? Shouldn't they have to bear the expense of the court costs instead of the artist they lied to?
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