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Parents Charged with Tattooing Their Kids

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Parents Charged with Tattooing Their Kids

January 06, 2010

By Amanda Dolan for Scars1

Sometimes tattoos are grounds for war between children and their parents; but this Georgia family is engaged in a much more difficult fight over body art. After creating their own at-home tattooing instrument with a guitar string as the needle, parents Patty Jo Marsh and Jacob Bartels proceeded to give six of their seven children tattoos. Now what started as a way to include the whole family in their affinity for body art, turned quickly into a legal battle. Both parents are charged with cruelty to children, reckless conduct, and tattooing.

According to this Atlanta Journal-Constitution article, the case was reported after the biological mother to two of the children tried unsuccessfully to wash the ink off of their hands. In Georgia, it is illegal for any unlicensed person to give someone a tattoo. Unsurprisingly it is also illegal for children under 18 to be tattooed at all. The Bartels children aged 10, 11, 11, 12, 15, and 17 all received tattoos. The only child who didn't receive authentic ink from mom and dad was the seven year old, who they decided was too young for a tattoo. According to the AJC, Patty Jo claims the children wanted the small cross tattoos and that neither of the parents realized it was illegal to give them.

After posting bail on Friday, Patty Jo and Jacob are awaiting a court date. Their children were temporarily removed by children's services, but have all returned home to their parents. Patty Jo thinks they are being wrongfully "labeled as child abusers" and believe that they, as guardians, had the right to decide whether or not to give their children tattoos.

This story brings about a lot of complex issues, many of which rest on the cusp of a very slippery slope. Issues of parents' rights, what constitutes cruelty to children, the difference between tattoos and other body alterations, and more, are all up for question. What do you think? Join the discussion.

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