Piercing a baby’s ears: abuse or acceptable?

I’m glad I had my ears pierced at nine months old.

I don’t remember getting it done and I’ve never had issues with my ears.

I was curious as to why Mum had my ears pierced at such a young age.

She explained it was common in the nineties (I was born on the cusp in ’89).

Mainly so bubs wouldn’t recall the pain.

I asked the question again, “… but why did you want me to have pierced ears?”

She shrugged, “I’m not sure, everyone just did it back then.”

Facebook groups: for help and disparaging comments

Facebook groups are always a buzz with parenting questions and criticism… I mean, feedback.

In a couple of the Mum groups I follow, this question is written infrequently, as the anonymous member posing this question is more often than not, ripped apart for asking;

“Where can I go to get my six month old’s ears pierced?”

“Please consider your baby and her feelings and what they may want in the future…”

“You need to wait until your child is old enough to decide for themselves…”

“People only care about their baby’s looks and not their child’s right to consent.”

“Would you like to have holes forcibly pierced into your body? It’s disgusting. I don’t understand parents who feel the need to be so selfish”

I don’t know what’s worse: having parents tell other parents what they should or should not do with their child or the fact that no social media platform is a safe space.

Cultural beliefs are the exception

Depending on the cultural stance of a parent and their child (European, Indian etc.), ear piercing may be an expectation by way of beliefs or ritual.

This is where I have seen Mums online defending their actions to have their child’s ears pierced young because of their culture.

Where many parents back down to their previous criticism.

This image was so distressing to me I had to blur bubs face.

Even so, you shouldn’t have to justify your heritage, faith, sexual orientation, whatever it may be, to justify your reasoning to strangers.

Then again, if you pose a question online to strangers, you must be prepared for kickback, resistance or opposing opinions.

If not for cultural reasons, is it considered abuse?

I raised this question on Her Second Shift’s Instagram page.

The response was interesting.

Click through below to see some of the comments:

While many wouldn’t call it abuse per se, most said “No” to ear piercings for babies.

Reading these comments, I didn’t realise the amount of upset this would cause.

For I had my ears pierced so young, wouldn’t it be better for bubs not to remember the pain?

Also, they may likely not get infected as the baby can’t touch or sleep on them (pure assumption of course, I am not a doctor).

However I understand where people are coming from.

I can see how putting your baby through unnecessary pain is questionable and really, for what reason are you getting your child’s ears pierced (other than cultural reasons)?

Perhaps one day your little one will be grateful – I personally was. I remember nothing.

Then again, what if I didn’t want my ears pierced?

Right to consent

“Baby was not given the choice to have their ears pierced.”

“You’re forcing holes into your child’s body…”

The judgement from other parents is just…. wow.

In my opinion, if it’s your child, you are the decision maker.

But should your child have the right to consent to something such as ear piercing?

It is their body at the end of the day.

But they are a baby?

It now has me considering my own choices if I had had a girl.

In all honesty, if I hadn’t raised this question on social media and I had a daughter, I likely would have had her ears pierced before her first birthday.

Now, I’m not so sure.

Actually, after seeing the image further above of the baby getting her ears pierced (I blurred her face because I nearly cried) I don’t think I could go through with it.

What age is acceptable?

At what age would it be reasonable to make this decision for themselves?

From my research and online groups, it seems that 8 years and older is a reasonable age for a child to decide on an ear piercing.

My year 10 Deb Ball. My sister also had her ears pierced in this photo and she was four or five years old.

To play Devil’s advocate then, you have an intelligent seven year old.

She see’s an older girl at school with her ears pierced.

Your daughter comes home requesting to get her ears pierced.

Should you allow it?

She wants to put holes in her body. Should you comply? Should you discourage her from conforming?

Of course, explain the risks, the pain and be as informative as you can as a parent to allow her to make an informed decision.

But it is your child after all and you do make the final call.

Where to go for more info

I always try to find information or resources that are government-hosted sites or medically proven statistics.

In this case, information about body piercings is very independent, typically written by individual businesses in line with their state or territory’s laws.

According to Better Health Channel, here in Victoria, it is “illegal for a body piercer to perform body piercing on a person under 16 years of age, without obtaining written consent from:

  • the parent or guardian of the person to be pierced
  • the person to be pierced, if they are over 10 years of age and have the capacity to consent.

That second dot point is interesting.

Comment your thoughts below on this topic.

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