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Legal advice: My 15-year-old daughter got a tattoo


Teen beauty

Teen beauty

Roxana Gonzalez

Teen beauty

AT THE end of the school year my 15-year-old daughter and some of her friends decided to get tattoos. They didn't tell any of us parents what they were up to. When she came home we were horrified that anyone would tattoo such a young girl. To top off the whole awful experience she developed a bad infection afterwards and had to go on antibiotics. What can I do?


Even adults don't always make the right decision when it comes to tattoos. Angelina Jolie (below) removed a tattoo she had done when she was with now-ex-husband Billy Bob Thornton. Bad-boy rapper-turned-actor 50 Cent has also had extensive tattoo removal, claiming he has missed out on auditions because of them.

Programmes like 'Miami Ink', which follow the events in a tattoo parlour on Miami Beach, have made tattooing very popular, especially among teenagers. I understand why you are so angry about this. It is very irresponsible for a tattoo artist to carry out work on a minor without parental consent.

The definition of a minor varies depending on what they're consenting to, but it ranges from 16-18.

Most beauty salons have a policy on providing treatments to minors. For example, I recently visited a salon and they stated in the brochure terms and conditions that they only allowed minors to have a pedicure or manicure.

Even these procedures required a signed declaration form from the parent or guardian prior to treatment.

Although you cannot give blood until you are 18, unfortunately there is no legislation regulating body piercing and tattoos in this country. It's really at the discretion of the tattoo artist whether they will tattoo a minor or not. This is despite the fact that the process of getting a tattoo or piercing involves the use of needles.

There is extensive legislation regarding consent and invasive treatment of minors in other areas. All medical, surgical and dental treatment is covered under Section 23 of the Non Fatal offenses Against the Person Act 1997.

It holds that consent for treatment must be obtained from children over the age of 16 before treatment and that, for those under the age of 16, parental consent must be sought otherwise an offence is committed.

Irish law is sorely lacking when it comes to the regulation of body art. In the US, there are very strict controls when it comes to tattooing minors. In the main, minors cannot get a tattoo at all until the age of 18.

Some US states do allow tattoos with the written consent of a parent or guardian. In Texas, for example, a tattoo of a minor is only allowed to cover an obscene or offensive tattoo and even then there must be notarised written parental consent.

From your question it would appear your daughter developed an infection and required medical treatment as a result of the tattoo.

If it is established the infection was caused directly by the tattoo you might have a personal injury claim against the person who carried it out.

Personal injury claims are assessed by the Personal Injuries Assessment Board who will assess the value of the claim and make an award based on the extent of the injury.

As your daughter is a minor, she cannot herself sue, but as her parents you may take a claim on her behalf.

Mary Kirwan is a barrister and can be contacted at mkirwan@independent.ie

Health & Living