All I Want for Christmas is a Tattoo

The baddest kid in nursery? Or a victim of child abuse?

A couple in Georgia was arrested in December for giving 6 of their 7 young children (all under 18 years of age) homemade cross-shaped tattoos using a guitar string as a needle. The couple says their kids only wanted to “be like Mom and Dad.” Authorities took custody of the children temporarily while the parents arranged to be released from jail on bail, and the parents now await a trial date for their case.

The parents claimed they had no intention to harm their children and that they wouldn’t have pulled the stunt if they had known administering a tattoo without a license–to a minor, nonetheless–was illegal under Georgia state law.

What’s really going on here? Were these parents really so clueless about how getting a tattoo works that they thought it would be okay to use a guitar string on their children’s arms? Did they genuinely not have any idea that a law in their state would criminalize their actions? Assuming the parents had tattoos themselves (after all, they were their kids’ inspiration), how can they claim to be unaware of the proper procedures and legalilites associated with the profession of tattoo art?

Or perhaps we’re having a knee-jerk reaction here. Not tattooing our 12-year old child may be a matter of common sense. But logic and common sense are relative notions–what’s rational for one group of people is not for another. The parents’ actions don’t seem to be motivated by any animus towards their children. They say they had no intention to cause any harm–and there is no mention of whether the children even complained about the tattoos. They seem to subjectively believe they were only trying to make their children happy by giving them what they wanted.  Isn’t that what all parents try to do, after all?

There are three sides to this story–the parents’, the state’s, and the truth. What’s the truth here? Is this child abuse or simply a misunderstanding?