- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 6, 2005

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Rebellious teenagers soon may have another reason to curse the establishment now that a lawmaker wants to add Washington to the list of states that require parental permission before minors can pierce a body part.

Some professional piercers have taken advantage of loose regulations in more than a dozen states that let youngsters come home with a tongue stud, navel ring or pierced eyebrow without approval from Mom or Dad.

“We have teens coming in here who have issues — their piercings are all infected,” said Jacob Willardsen, the main piercer at House of Tattoo in Tacoma. “They’re getting it done at another shop or doing it themselves — either way, it’s happening.”

Republican state Sen. Pam Roach wants to ensure it doesn’t happen anymore.

A proposed law would make it a misdemeanor to pierce minors unless their parents give permission and are present during the procedure. The latter, Mrs. Roach said, almost guarantees that teens won’t be getting pierced in inappropriate places.

“Moms just don’t want to see that,” she said.

The bill doesn’t apply to ears.

Several states — including Maryland and Virginia — and Washington, D.C., regulate body piercing, with most requiring some type of parental consent for minors, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The penalties vary by state.

People who illegally pierce minors in Louisiana face hundreds of dollars in fines and up to a year in jail. In Delaware, rogue piercers can be charged with a misdemeanor and held liable for damages.

“We want to protect young people from decisions that may cause them disfigurement or consternation later in life,” Mrs. Roach said.

Most professional body piercers support the bill.

Randolph Slaughter, the piercer at Metro, a tattoo and body-piercing shop in Olympia, requires minors to come in with their parents. The teenagers and parents have to show identification, plus a document proving their relationship.

New piercings require scrupulous care to prevent infections, and Mr. Slaughter ensures teenagers and their parents are ready for the responsibility.

At Fusion Tattoo in Enumclaw, Erik Warren said piercing minors is frowned upon by most of his colleagues. He usually shoos away teenagers asking about piercings.

“If the parents won’t let them, we’re not going to encourage it,” he said. “Lines of angry parents aren’t great publicity.”

Kurtis Kirk, the owner of Seattle’s Golden Body Rings, which is known for piercing minors, said the law would hurt his business more than other establishments.

“I really don’t think we need a moral piercing police,” he said.

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