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Genuine question, why is it legal to get a babies ears pierced?

(121 Posts)
YellowEllis Wed 22-Jul-20 13:40:15

I can't fathom it. A girl I know has pictures on social media of her 5 month old getting her ears pierced and I was stunned and googled it and it's allowed? I can't understand it, I wasn't allowed mine pierced at 14 without my mother's consent, but her consent was additional to mine, to me even wanting it. A 5 month old can't ask, consent or would possibly want that. It's purely for the mothers vanity?

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YellowEllis Wed 22-Jul-20 13:49:07

This isn't to goad anyone into arguing about whether it's wrong or right. Simply why is it legal to do something that involves piercing the skin of an infant that isn't for medical reasons. Why do consent laws not apply?

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nokia3210567 Wed 22-Jul-20 13:52:38

I guess you could argue the same for cultural male circumcision of infants

AuditAngel Wed 22-Jul-20 13:52:54

We don’t ask the children’s consent to vaccinate them. (I’m not an anti vaxxer)

YellowEllis Wed 22-Jul-20 13:55:23

No, we don't ask consent for vaccinations but that is for medical reasons. There is no benefit to piercing a babies ears. This is where my confusion lies, I don't see why it's not banned.

And yes, I don't know much about circumcision or why they do it to be honest but a similar point (albeit far more serious/permanent)

These days consent is such a big thing in so many ways, I just wonder why babies are subjected to these things and it's legally ok?

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BendyLikeBeckham Wed 22-Jul-20 13:55:42

I think both are child abuse.

Unnecessary physical injury.

Flame me for that, I don't care.

BendyLikeBeckham Wed 22-Jul-20 13:56:48

both as in circumcision and infant ear piercing, not vaccinations which have a clear cut health benefit to the child

custardbear Wed 22-Jul-20 13:57:37

@AuditAngel - slightly different as it's for their safety and health reasons re vaccinations, earrings, circumcision etc are not, cultural or religious reasons should be ignored IMO

bluefoxmug Wed 22-Jul-20 13:57:50

but vaccination is a medical procedure for the child's benefit.
circumcision in boys could be a medical procedure.

an ear piercing is purely cosmetic. I agree that it is weird that it is apparently legal.

formerbabe Wed 22-Jul-20 13:59:21

In theory, you're right imo.

formerbabe Wed 22-Jul-20 14:00:21

I guess the reason it's not made illegal is because people would illegally do it and then perhaps avoid medical treatment if it became infected.

Frazzled2207 Wed 22-Jul-20 14:00:31

Unless it’s for medical reasons eg vaccinations and sometimes circumcision, I really can’t fathom why parents do this until the child is old enough to decide for itself.
I am aware some cultures see it differently thougg

okiedokieme Wed 22-Jul-20 14:02:39

Just like circumcision it's allowed for cultural reasons. I don't know anyone who has had their babies ears pierced though

AllieCat22 Wed 22-Jul-20 14:03:46

I got my ears pierced at 17, but in some ways I think getting a babies ears pierced very young could work out if you are hoping it will be very sporty. it means they will then be able to do lots of uninterrupted sports later on in childhood without having tape on the ears etc. or having to miss swimming or gymnastics etc. because they have had their ears pierced, I don’t have a kid, but I think I’d consider this if I did.

teablanket Wed 22-Jul-20 14:04:21

It really shouldn't be legal. I popped into claires recently to pick up a gift for a niece, and there was a young child (she looked around 3yo) sobbing after one ear was pierced -- the mother told her she wasn't allowed to leave until the other was done, and the poor girl was begging to go home.

It was really distressing! I'm admittedly a bit of a soft touch, but I felt so awful for her. sad

Mumtumwobble Wed 22-Jul-20 14:05:21

You can’t really compare ear piercing to vaccines. Ear piercing can’t safe your life, a vaccine definitely can. I agree, OP I find it odd that you can still get a young babies ears pierced too. I had mine done when I was only 3 back in the mid 80s, apparently I asked and my mum said yes. Even that seems very young now, things have moved on. Things that used to seem acceptable in the past just aren’t any more. There’s no way I’d agree to my 4 year old getting her ears pierced yet. Personally I think 9 or 10 is about the youngest I’d let my daughter have hers done.

Noitsprobablynot Wed 22-Jul-20 14:07:51

Are you new to MN? This has been discussed (and a bun fight) dozens of times before.

zaffa Wed 22-Jul-20 14:10:22

I never really thought about this until I had a baby. I absolutely couldn't imagine putting DD through any discomfort or pain that wasn't medically necessary. Her gorgeous tiny earlobes are so perfect, and having had my own done I know how much it hurts, so I can't possibly imagine why I would have hers pierced, so I think you are indeed NBU and agree with you. I shouldn't be allowed to inflict discomfort or pain on her for my own aesthetic reasons.
I don't have any cultural beliefs around circumcision so I am comfortable saying had she been a boy that wouldn't even occur to me to do - again I would be absolutely dead against it unless there was a medical reason it was required.
Vaccinations save lives - I personally think they should absolutely be mandatory and children who can have them and who haven't been give them (so not including children for whom it's medically unsafe to have them as determined by a medical professional) shouldn't be allowed to attend places like schools until they have been done. It is in no way comparable to ear piercing which saves no lives as far as I am aware?

YellowEllis Wed 22-Jul-20 14:10:33


Are you new to MN? This has been discussed (and a bun fight) dozens of times before.

I signed up in the last 6 months, after having my son. I hadn't seen a thread lately. On a search I've seen threads either supporting it or slating it, but as I said this wasn't about that. I'm genuinely trying to understand how in the world we live in today, that takes consent more seriously than ever before, why this is allowed. It just seems like something that would be banned, I imagined it was and was shocked to hear otherwise.

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YellowEllis Wed 22-Jul-20 14:11:42


I guess the reason it's not made illegal is because people would illegally do it and then perhaps avoid medical treatment if it became infected.

This is a good point, I hadn't thought of that.

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nancybotwinbloom Wed 22-Jul-20 14:18:43

My rule was with my daughter was 'when she was old enough to ask for it' and understood it would hurt.

She was four. All of her friends in school already had it done. She asked, I left it for a month and she was still asking.

She knew it was a needle going through her ears. She knew it would hurt.

We went to Claire's and they did both at the same time. She didn't cry and just said to the ladies 'I'm ready' and squeezed my hand. Then she spent the day looking at her earrings.

I remember getting mine done and I wish they had done both of mine at the same time.

Veterinari Wed 22-Jul-20 14:19:44

It's simply not a legal priority. Young children/babies cannot give consent so you'd need legislation that bans cosmetic but not medical procedures on babies/children up until a specified age. It could probably be included as part of an overhaul of child protection legislation eg the children's Act 1989 (that's what happened with tail docking in the animal welfare law). But I'm not sure there's an overhaul on the cards.

Noitsprobablynot Wed 22-Jul-20 14:20:18

@YellowEllis Like I said, exactly what you've said has been discussed over and over. MN is known for baby pierced ears threads smile

FourPlasticRings Wed 22-Jul-20 14:27:15

If you start a petition to ban it and link to it, I'll sign it OP.

legalseagull Wed 22-Jul-20 14:42:03

It should be illegal. It's technically GBH. If you can't pierce their eyebrows/belly buttons etc why are ears ok? It shouldn't be allowed to punch holes in a child without consent.

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