If You Think Piercing A Baby's Ears Is Cruel, Don't Do It

by Maria Guido
Originally Published: 

An online petition to ban infant and toddler ear piercing in the U.K. has garnered almost 40,000 signatures. Susan Ingram — the woman who started it — thinks it’s 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,” says Ingram. The petition garnered all the signatures in less than a week, prompting Labour Party Member of Parliament Mark Tami “to declare his intention to raise the issue in the House of Commons,” the Huffington Post reports.

The reaction to the petition is mixed: some comments on the petition agree that it’s unnecessary and pure vanity on the parent’s part. Some others think the petition is absurd. I think if you are of the opinion that ear piercing children is cruel and unnecessary — don’t do it.

Some of the arguments claim that girls should be able to make the choice for themselves when they are old enough to do so. As parents, we make choices for our children all the time. Why should we refrain from making this one?

In some cultures, it’s customary to pierce your baby’s ears early. Almost all of my female Greek cousins had theirs done in infancy. It’s customary in many Latin American countries to give gold infant studs as a gift to an expectant mother. This petition is pretty tone-deaf to people’s different cultural norms.

I can’t even get my toddler to leave a barrette in her hair, so there’s no way I’m trying ear piercing now. But if I’d done it when she was younger, she’d most certainly be used to them by now. I had mine done when I was in grade school and could decide for myself. I’m going to wait to give my daughter the same option — but not because I think there’s anything wrong with making the decision for a child. As with so many other parenting choices — it’s personal. It’s a choice that should be left up to parents. There are no reports or studies confirming that the practice is dangerous or a health hazard. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says there’s little risk at any age if the piercing is “performed carefully and cared for conscientiously.”

It’s not akin to a decision like vaccinating, which affects the public health. It only affects a child, and it’s a parent’s job to make decisions for that child. Online comments are comparing it to tattooing and piercing other areas of the body — but that seems like a reach. Some are actually comparing it to female genital mutilation — which is absurd.

Is it really worth it to get worked up about a tiny hole in a baby’s ear? Mind your own child.

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