Tattoos for Toddlers?

Flickr photo by Just Jefa
I'm thinking about getting my 2-year-old a tattoo, and I need help picking out the design.

Not really.

However, I did just read about a man who tattooed an "A" on a 19-month-old girl's bottom, and now he's going to prison for three years.

Should he be?


Lee M. Deitrick, a 20-year-old Louisville, Ohio, man, was babysitting the toddler, and for some reason, he thought it'd be a good idea to give her a tattoo. He did so, as one of the girl's 17-year-old relatives held the child across her lap.

Prosecutors argued that the tattooing caused the girl permanent disfigurement and a lot of pain. Deitrick's defense attorney Eugene O’Byrne told the judge that Deitrick wanted to take responsibility and move on. "There was no malice,” he said. “More of an error in judgment."

So here it's kind of a clear-cut case: Deitrick tattooed a toddler who wasn't his child. (The charge, by the way, was felony child endangerment.)

I'm guessing (though I'm by no means certain) that there might have been a different outcome if he were her dad or mom. I don't know much about tattooing at all, but I guess tattoo age laws vary by state -- in some places, a minor can be tattooed with parental permission. So presumably parents could take their toddler to get some ink -- if they could find a tattoo artist who was willing to do it. I'd bet a lot of them would say no.

Technically speaking, ear piercing causes "permanent disfigurement" and a lot of pain. But babies and toddlers get their ears pierced every day.

My own toddler will remain tat-free, at least until she's old enough to make up her own mind about tattoos.

Do you think it's okay for parents to tattoo their toddler?

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