The mother of a 10-year-old boy was arrested after the boy was discovered to have a tattoo, which was discovered by a nurse at the boy's school. The boy visited the nurse's office at his school in Highland, NY, to ask for some vaseline to rub onto the new tattoo. The nurse called the police, and the boy's mother, Crystal Thomas, 33, was arrested.
"It is a permanent mark or a symbol you are putting on your body, and I don't think kids under 18 have that kind of agency to make a decision," says Dr. Cora Bruener, a pediatrician and professor at the University of Washington Medical Center's Seattle Children's Hospital, and author of guidance on tattoos for pediatricians, issued by the American Academy of Pediatric Medicine. Here's what happened next.
The 10-year-old boy had a tattoo of his name in large block letters on the inside of his forearm. The minimum age to get a tattoo in New York is 18, whether with or without parental permission. Thomas claims to have thought her son was getting a temporary tattoo. "No little child should get tattooed," she told the Mid-Hudson News. The tattoo artist Austin Smith, 20, was found to be unlicensed and also charged.
Federal law doesn't have a minimum age for tattoos, and state laws vary. Some states, like Ohio and West Virginia, allow minors to get tattoos if their parents agree. "It's the worst mistake I've made in my life," tattoo artist Smith says. "At the time, I thought if you got your parents' permission, you could get a tattoo."
The boy reportedly wanted a tattoo because he saw a teacher with something similar. Now he regrets his decision and the outcome. According to the boy, the tattoo artist should have put a stop to it. "He should have said no," the 10-year-old told the Times. "It seems the gut reaction should be, 'No, minors should not get tattoos,' but minors will get tattoos," says NYC-based lawyer Marisa Kakoulas.
Charges Being Faced
The tattoo artist who illegally tattooed the ten-year-old was charged with dealing unlawfully with a child. This is considered a misdemeanor and could result in up to a year in prison. The mother was arrested on October 04th and charged with Endangering the Welfare of a Child. This is considered a class A misdemeanor and could also lead to a year in prison.
Another mother in Macon, Georgia, got into trouble for allowing her 10-year-old son to get a tattoo. Chuntera Napier reportedly allowed her son Gaquan to get the number 3 tattooed on his arm in honor of his older brother, who was killed in a car accident. Napier was subsequently sentenced to 12 months probation. "You can take your little girl and get her ears pierced, what is the difference in that?" Napier said. "I didn't make my child do a thing, that was his choice. That was beautiful that he thought of that."