In our opinion: If the kids are going to get tattooed, make it safe

Be it a ball point pen and a guitar string, a sewing needle and a bottle of India ink, or an unregulated practitioner in a basement, whatever, with society infatuated with actors, musicians and athletes, and so many of them tattooed, kids are going to emulate their heroes.

Despite the good intentions of the Legislature, prohibiting minors from being tattooed — without allowances for parental permission — and then stacking additional regulations on tattoo artists, leaves unprotected the kids who aren’t going to let the law, or ma and pa, stop them from getting inked.

If it’s serious about protecting public health, the Legislature should make allowances for minors to get tattoos with the permission of their parent or legal guardian. At present, anyone who tattoos someone under 18 is guilty of a misdemeanor.

As reporter Wesley Remmer showed in this week’s story, “Underaged and inked,” (Page A1) young people determined to get a tattoo will succeed. If not by fooling a professional, who adheres to sanitary practices, and if not by an unregulated artist, who may practice in a garage or living room, then by themselves, or a friend.

What supporters of the law say makes sense, kids do not have the foresight to understand what be appealing at 17 will change at 27.

But the list of what may happen is more frightening than an embarrassing story about a Chinese character on the small of the back: hepatitis, HIV, the list of potential risks is chilling.

Our state should have allowances in the law to ensure those teens, however rash and shortsighted, are protected just like adults.

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