Ear Piercing and children – your choice or their choice?

Ear piercing in children is a hot topic of debate amongst most parents. Whilst some are happy to have their child’s ears pierced when they are toddlers others wouldn’t t let their child get a piercing until they are well into their teens and some parents prefer to wait and see if their child wants to have their ears pierced.  So what is the right decision for your child?

Ear piercing is a form of body modification simply for wearing earrings. However there are some cultural reasons for ear piercing in children. In Spain and Latin America it is customary for a baby girl’s ears to be pierced moments or days after birth. Pierced ears are a traditional symbol of fertility and are a deep-rooted tradition in Latin American culture. Gold earrings are often given to mothers after the birth while she is still in hospital and baby girls are expected to leave the hospital wearing them.

In Hinduism Karnavedha is one of the Samskaras (sacrements) performed during childhood that involves piercing the ears in the third of fifth year. Karnavadha is one of the 16 major rites children must go through and is said to open a child’s ears to the sacred sounds. It is believed that sacred sounds help cleanse sin and nurture the spirit. The ritual is performed for both boys and girls as part of the Samskaras. Preventing a child from performing any of the Samskaras is said to cause great spiritual disruption and negativity.

Under UK law there is no legal age of consent for body piercings and so it is legal for someone under the age of 18 to get a piercing so long as they have consented.  The only restrictions apply to genital piercings. However the British Body Piercing Association have their own code of ethics that their members must apply to which includes guidance on age restrictions. According to their website:

‘All Affiliates, Associates, Members and Fellows of the Association agree: Not to give anybody a piercing under the age of 14 years. 14 – 16 year olds must bring a parent or guardian with them and below the neck piercings and tongues at this age is at the discretion of the piercer. Nipples to only be pierced over 16 years. 16 year olds and over are treated as adults.’

Forum discussions leave parents divided over the subject. This debate from Mumsnet sees some parents commenting that pierced ears in babies is ’ghetto fabulous’ and that you should wait till children are old enough to make the decision themselves whilst others say they had their child’s ears pierced at the age of 11 months.

When we asked parents on twitter we had one reply commenting that it was the human equivalent of dogs having their tails docked. There are certainly some distressing videos of young children having their ears pierced on You Tube.  Yet as with many parent decisions it is very personal to an individual family on where you stand on the issue. However, if you are currently deciding about allowing your children to have their ears pierced please have a look at the NHS Choices website before deciding.


Photo courtesy of hrkittredge on Flicker. Video courtesy of You Tube.

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1 Comment

  1. We let our girl have her ears pierced when she was 5. She asked to do it. We made sure it was a reputable place and helped her take good care of them afterward. I think I would be much more hesitant about piercing anywhere else on her body, though, as it seems other places would be much more prone to infection or injury and children aren’t known for being clean and careful.


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