The State of California is currently handling one of the more interesting lawsuits that has arisen around tattooing and minors. In this case, the minor is extremely minor: this doesn't involve a teen, the case involves a seven-year-old boy. And not only tattooing being called into question, but several other body modifications that parents routinely have done to children without much of a second thought.
Everyone pretty much agrees on the basics of the case itself. Fresno gang member Enrique Gonzalez decided his young son should have a gang tattoo just like Daddy's. So he took the boy to a friend and had a paw print about the size of a quarter tattooed on his son's hip. Although this happens to be the same logo used by the local California State University, it's intention was to symbolize another group in the area that uses the same moniker, the Bulldogs street gang.
Prosecutors originally filed a charge of mayhem, which can carry a life sentence. This is more serious than the usual type of charge filed, which is most often cruel and inhumane treatment. Some view the tattooing as a permanent disfigurement, not accounting for the fact that tattoos can now be removed with a laser procedure. Some say reports that the boy was held down and made to endure the process is part of what is behind the more serious charge. Gonzalez has said his son wanted the tattoo.
But part of what lawyers are arguing are instances where a newborns ears are pierced or when a baby boy is subject to circumcision, a process that many consider more painful and definitely permanent, and yet no one ever goes to jail for those. The judge in the case initially rejected the aggravated mayhem charge and accepted the lesser charge, but now prosecutors have refiled the mayhem charge. This means the defense must now prove that "extreme indifference to the physical or psychological well-being of another person" did not occur as is specified by the California law.
The tattoo was discovered by the boy's mother, who is estranged from the father. She is the one who reported the incident. Presently her son has begun laser treatment to get rid of the tattoo, and it may barely exist by the time the case comes to court. Keep your eyes on the internet news for more developments...