The State Government has been urged to pass laws to prevent teenagers from getting intimate body piercings, after a controversial tattoo artist started a campaign to give teenagers the right to pierce without parental consent.
In a move certain to outrage parents, Bob Anderson, owner of the popular Primal Urge Piercing in Hay Street, maintains that 16-year-olds already have adult privileges and should have the right to decide what they want to do with their own bodies.
“Sixteen-to-18-year-olds have the right to consensual sex and to learn to drive a motor vehicle,” he writes on his business’ website, urging young people to voice their opposition to the “do-gooders” who seek to restrict the piercing of nipples and genitalia to those aged 18 and above.
But Janet Woollard, Independent MLA for Alfred Cove, who introduced legislation in late 2007 aimed at protecting teenagers from the side-effects of piercing, said the move would be a disaster.
“Children are coming home mutilated and disfigured with pins, rings and studs embedded in all parts of their bodies and there is nothing parents can do to prevent it because this State does not have a minimum age for body piercing enshrined in legislation,” she said.
Dr Woollard’s private member’s Bill would bring body piercing into line with existing laws preventing children under 18 from being branded or tattooed.
Currently, there are only ethical guidelines for body piercing, issued by the Department for Communities, that recommend the restriction of intimate piercings to those over 18 and parental consent for piercings for any other body part for a child aged below 16.
Mr Anderson said such restrictions were futile, suggesting that teenagers would not wait until they turned 18 to be pierced.
Child Protection Minister Sue Ellery said she supported the same approach to body piercing that exists for tattooing and branding and requiring teenagers to seek parental approval.
Dr Woollard said she hoped to table her Bill within the next few weeks.