Piercing Baby's Ears Could Be Illegal If This Mom Gets Her Way

baby pierced earsWhen you look at a baby with pierced ears, what’s the first thought that crosses your mind? Is it something along the lines of “how cute!” -- or more like, “how horrible!”? If it’s the latter, you just might be of a mind with Susan Ingram, a woman in the United Kingdom who has launched a petition to make infant and toddler ear piercings illegal.


Ingram’s petition, addressed to Edward Timpson, the UK’s Minister for Children, is currently closing in on its goal of 35,000 signatures. In it, Ingram states:

It is a form of child cruelty. Severe pain and fear is inflicted upon infants unnecessarily. It serves no purpose other than to satisfy the parent's vanity. Other forms of physically harming children are illegal- this should be no different.

As a parent, I certainly understand where Ingram is coming from. “It’s bad when babies are sad” is not exactly a contentious point in most social circles. But I have to disagree with her approach here -- even though I’d never pierce my own daughter’s ears until she’s old enough to ask for it.

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I don’t particularly like the idea of infant ear piercing, but here’s the thing about it: it’s strongly associated with certain cultures that I, as a person of the white-American persuasion, do not belong to. Many Hispanic people, for example, consider infant ear piercing to be a rite of passage. Don’t get me wrong: as a rite of passage, I think it stinks. Infants don’t deserve less bodily autonomy just because they’re small.

But here’s where the argument goes off the rails for me: why we do we spend a disproportionate amount of energy on what those people who aren’t like us are doing? Of course we can be concerned about more than one issue at a time, but in the grand scheme of things, the amount of distress a baby feels over getting her ears pierced is relatively brief.

And yet that’s what we need to enact a law against? My priority would be making it illegal for parents to disown their gay or transgender children, and on stopping them from inflicting so-called conversion therapy on those kids to try to ‘turn them straight’. Or maybe to ban parents from publicly shaming their children, or posting videos of their ‘hilarious’ and humiliating punishments to YouTube and Facebook. Or to ban parents from actually striking their children – a punishment that, at least of 10 years ago, three-quarters of British people supported. I wonder how many of the people arguing in favor of a swift slap to keep kids in line would also support a ban on childhood ear piercing?

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So, no, I don’t like it when babies have their ears pierced. But I also don’t like it when the majority culture would rather clean house in everybody else’s business but their own. Are bans like this actually about protecting children? Or are they about enforcing assimilation into the mainstream culture? I guess we’ll have to wait and see what sort of petition is the next to go viral.

What do you think of piercing kids ears before they are old enough to ask for it?


About the Author: Aimee Ogden is a science nerd, fake geek girl, and the mother of 1-year-old twins. She has 99 problems, and most of them involve comic books. You can also find her on Twitter.

Image via © iStock.com/ArtShotPhoto

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