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Con (against)
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The Contender
Pro (for)
7 Points

Age Restrictions For Body Modification

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/2/2010 Category: Society
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 4,540 times Debate No: 11320
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (4)
Votes (1)




There is nothing special that someone 18 or older has or can do that allows them to make the decision of how to decorate their body opposed to someone thats 15 or 16. Its a legal form of age discrimination. We are being denied services because of our age. America was created in a search for freedom, but the freedom to express yourself is reserved for those of age? That isnt right.

Not to mention, we'll get them anyway. Whether its a self piercing(which can be extremely dangerous) or a friend giving us a tattoo in their garage(insanely unsanitary). It only makes sense to remove the age restriction or at the least lower it. Tattoo/piercing parlors across the nation are, on average, more sterilized and clean than our average hospital!

Its a matter of not only freedoms, but of saftey. Age restrictions for body modifications should be removed for every state.


I thank my opponent for starting an interesting debate and welcome her to DDO. We share some common interest in TV shows it seems as Law and Order is a staple for me (cheesy detective lines and all). After reading Pro's position I stand in refutation the points provided by my opponent. I wish her good luck and (according to her profile) congratulations on her engagement.


Body Modification: I will accept that any piercing (ears, nose, tongue, [expletive], eyebrow, [expletive], bellybutton, forehead, etc) to be covered under body modification. In addition, any permanent tattoo will be included.

Con presents a case of legal age discrimination in reference to body modification. Her position is that such laws are unfair as they are based solely on age and such a criterion is counter to American principles of freedom, as the freedom to do what one wishes with her own body is reserved, in the case of body modification, to those "of age".

I reject Con's premise that body modification is reserved for those over the age of 18.

I reject Con's premise that age is a criterion for expressing one's self.

I reject Con's premise that American principles are violated in respect to body modification laws.

1. Children and teenagers can, with approval from their parents, get certain piercings and tattoos. The laws vary from state to state.
As we can see from the list that most states allow for body modification so long as a parent is present, or signs off on it. Some modification is not done on children because their bodies are still growing and developing. The artists will refuse certain modifications due to health issues that occur with modifications on developing bodies.

In addition, circumcision in males is a form of body modification that parents approve all the time. Children and teens are not prohibited from some modifications; they just need a parent's permission. Con's first premise is false.

2. I can find no law in the US preventing those under 18 from expressing themselves, only that certain expression of self needs to be approved by a parent. Body modifications require care, some more than others, and the parents will be responsible for that care, not the teenager. If a parent allows a piercing to become infected, or approved a tattoo from a shop where any reasonable person would have said no, then the parent, not the teen, is responsible if the teen experiences problems requiring medical care. When certain forms of expression require care and consequences can fall on parents in addition to medical costs, then they, the parents, should have a say so in the matter.

Freedom of expression is not unlimited in the US and is more limited in teenagers due to legal requirements on parents and parents are ultimately responsible for their child's health and welfare. Freedom of expression is not reserved for those over 18, but expression is limited for minors due to the reasons I stated above. Con's second premise is false.

3. Con's third premise is that American principles are violated by these laws and she is mistaken. No one has a Constitutional right to a piercing or tattoo. The laws regulating such matters are, rightly, left to the states. The state can and does make laws pertaining to child welfare and so long as parents can be held responsible for their child's welfare, they can regulate to what extent the child can express themselves. I see no violations of American concepts of freedom in allowing the state and parents to regulate certain behavior.

Con's third premise ignores another party to this subject-the artist. The artist can be fined for performing some actions, but they have a wide range of discretion in determining what art they will do. Some artists refuse to tattoo teens and the state does not interfere. Some artists refuse to paint gang symbols or racial tattoos and the state does not interfere. The artist has substantial freedom to self regulate and decide how to proceed as do parents. These are the people the law will hold responsible, not the teen, so they have more freedom in decision making. Con's third premise does not examine the whole picture and I see no violation of American principles when examining all involved parties.

We will do it anyway and it would be less safe.

The fact that a teen would allow a friend to stick needles in his body is further proof that this decision should be left to someone more responsible. The age restrictions Con gave are not wholly accurate as I have shown. The teen just needs a parent involved. I fully agree such practices as self piercing are unsanitary and unsafe, but what is the trade off? If tattoo parlors are allowed to modify teens without the teen's parent involved, is the artist now response for post modification care? Does she have to pay the medical bills if something gets infected? Children cannot be bound by most contracts, only the adults so consent forms and medical waivers will not be valid. Do you realize the level of responsibly an artist takes when tattooing an underage person without parental consent?

In addition to the above points, the parent would have substantial footing for a lawsuit if something goes wrong and the artist will be the one affected. Allowing teens to be tattooed without consent brings several more factors into play that Con is not addressing. Many artists, much like they do now, will not perform certain modifications, including tattoos, on teens and many would still refuse if the laws were changed so teens would be forced to the less than savory parlors. Many problems can occur when tattooing teens and piercing them. I still do not understand how a non medical person can ask a 12 year old girl to remove clothing so some piercings or tattoos can be performed without a law being broken. Do you see the danger in this voters?

Many states have specific health code laws concerning parlors but a once a year inspection does nothing to stop the exploitation of minors. The teen may be able to get a more sterilized modification, but we are opening the door for much more. We cannot legislate against stupid, and a person, teen or otherwise, who takes the risks associated with self piercing or allows a friend to do it will simply have to suffer the consequences. I am not willing to open Pandora's box on this subject, not for tattoos which can be obtained when a teen becomes legally responsible for his own actions and care. Age restrictions should be kept in place on this non medical matter.
Debate Round No. 1


Because we must get approval from our parents it is ultimately up to them if we can express ourselves through tattoos and piercings. It restricts us, who are perfectly capable of deciding for ourselves. I am an excellent student with college ambitions and am completely drug free which is PLENTY more than i can say for most people in this nation who are "of age" to get a tattoo. Of all things to require of someone who wishes to get a tattoo or piercing professionally done. Why is age the ultimate factor in deciding who can and cant? Why can a drunk adult decide they want a tattoo but a teen who is in their right mind cant? why isnt there a law to prevent those under the influence of drugs or alcohol from getting a tattoo.

There's risk in everything we do, not just teenagers, but humanity as a whole. If medical bills were the big issue, then anyone not of age shouldnt be able to play a sport, or eat fast food, or be exposed to many other things that i've come in contact with everyday. Cause after all eating the wrong foods can cause medical problems. A tattoo is a risk, just like walking down the stairs is a risk, you could fall and do some serious damage, but there's no age requirement for comming in contact with stairs. Contact with animals or nature in general should be strictly forbidden because theres to much risk of a medical issue occuring. But i dont need to have my mother sign a permission slip telling the school i can walk up and down all the stairs everyday, or stating i can walk home in the snow.

Every human being has a right to their own body. The government or your parents cannot force you to become an organ donner, they cannot force you to recieve medical treatments which you disagree with. If anyone has seen the movie My Sister's Keeper, then that is an excellent example! The little girls parents should not have been legally able to force her to donate so much because her sister was dying. That should've been her choice. Our freedoms as Americans are not limitless, but no one should be able to take away the right to do with our own bodies as we please. That should include our appearance, not just our internal organs. We should have a right do put on our body what we wish. They cannot control our haircut or color, the clothes we wear, or the make up i put on. So how come they can control our tattoos and piercings?

If the age restriction was removed, and I was refused a tattoo by an artist, then i could legally sue because of age discrimination. The artist is denying me a service which i could legally obtain based on nothing more than the number of times i've been around the sun.


I thank Con for her response and after reviewing her second round, I still maintain that the current restrictions on tattoos and piercings stay in place.

Before I get to her round two presentations we must first see how the premises have changed. I made clear that Con was operating under the false premise that those under 18 could not get body modifications. Con seemingly agrees as her position is now that under 18 individuals should not need a parent's permission to get body art. Also, Con seemingly agrees that those under 18 can express themselves, but some expression, tattoos and piercings, require permission from one's parents. Lastly, Con has dropped the American idea of freedom from the argument. She does mention some rights near the end so I will address those point by point.

Con begins by claiming those under 18 are perfectly capable of deciding for themselves concerning piercings or body art. She does not mention a minimum age here, but I don't think she supports small children choosing to get body art. So we can look at 15 year old teens and above. Con may be correct that many 15 to 17 year olds are perfectly capable of making these decisions, but capacity to make a decision is not the threshold. No matter how mature a child may be, the parent is responsible, legally, for his welfare. (Some exceptions occur in the form of emancipation, but I will avoid it unless the instigator presents it).

Con makes clear she is drug free (excellent!) and has college ambitions (Again, this is great) but Con, the parents of a drug free college driven minor are still responsible for their child's welfare. Because the parent is responsible, legally, for a child they should have some say so in the decision. No amount of maturity can relieve the parents of this responsibility. This is indeed a restriction on freedom, but one the law is willing to recognize due to the parents being responsible for medical treatment and well being of the minor. We have similar rules concerning a driver's license; a 16 can get a license in most states, but a parent must sign for it, and will be ultimately responsible.
Maturity is not the threshold; legal responsibility is the crux of this situation. So long as parents are responsible, they get a voice.

"Why can a drunk adult decide they want a tattoo but a teen who is in their right mind cant?"

Again, false premises pervade this statement. A teen can get a tattoo in some states with a parent's permission and tattoo artists are under risk of a fine if found tattooing a drunk adult. All states are different, but I did not find one that had laws concerning tattoos without a provision prohibiting an artist from providing the service on an intoxicated adult.

Inherent risk:
The only aspect of inherent risk I presented concerned artists who would not perform some modifications on minors because they are still developing physically. The artist is protecting herself, not necessarily the teen. I fully agree that everyday life includes a degree of risk. Walking, on steps or not, includes risks, but not walking on steps carries an inherent risk (fire drill!). Eating fatty food, or any food for that matter, carries an inherent risk, but not eating does also. In these cases both action and inaction carry a risk so a permission slip for one or the other would not be appropriate. The guy at the fast food counter cannot know the diet of a minor, cannot know the allergies, or what amount of calories a person may need due to a medical condition. I have seen some crazy diets so the refusal of say, a Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese (go large!), may be detrimental to a minor requiring a substantial amount of calories in one sitting. Businesses have no way of knowing what a person requires and could be doing as much harm by refusing food, fatty or otherwise, to a minor. Tattoos and piercings do not fit in this category.

Walking home in the snow could be as dangerous as sitting at the school for two or three hours waiting for a ride. We have no way of knowing so the same reasoning above applies here also.

As for sports, minors do need permission slips from parents to play. My school required a physical also. Sports, unlike walking and eating, are optional activities carrying an inherent risk of serious bodily injury. Parents have a say so here.

"Every human being has a right to their own body."

Fine, but so what? The law in the US does not recognize this right and this debate is about restrictions (laws). Neither adults nor minors in the US can legally do as they please with their bodies. Adults/minors cannot legally ingest certain drugs, attempt suicide (I love this law), or sell their body for sex in most states. Minors cannot legally do the latter in any state. Minors cannot take nude pictures of themselves legally. No ma'am you cannot do what you want in reference to your body and stay within the laws of the US. You may feel you have a right, but it is one the law does not recognize.

"The government or your parents cannot force you to become an organ donner (sic)".

The government can't, but a parent can refuse to allow an un-emancipated minor to be an organ donor, and make the decision after death for the minor:

"The new law also allows a parent or guardian to revoke an anatomical gift or revoke a refusal to make an anatomical gift by a deceased minor."

"[T]hey cannot force you to recieve (sic) medical treatments which you disagree with."

Wrong on both counts:
Exceptions exist, but for the most part a parent can approve, over a minor's disagreement, medical treatment. The state can step in over parent's objections in some cases.

"[N]o one should be able to take away the right to do with our own bodies as we please. That should include our appearance, not just our internal organs."

As I have shown, neither minors nor adults have a legal right to "do with [their] bodies as [they] please; therefore, it cannot be taken away. Minors do not have full rights in reference to organ donation either. Both of these statements are based on false premises.

"They cannot control our haircut or color, the clothes we wear, or the make up i (sic) put on. So how come they can control our tattoos and piercings?"

A minor's parents can, with little interference from the state, control all of these things. Minors do not have unfettered rights concerning their appearance. If a child refuses to listen to his parents and continuously violates rules established by parents, then the state can most definitely step in.
We have unruly child laws for such occurrences. Reasonableness of the rules established, not the child's reasonableness, is the standard.

"If the age restriction was removed, and I was refused a tattoo by an artist, then i (sic) could legally sue because of age discrimination. The artist is denying me a service which i (sic) could legally obtain based on nothing more than the number of times i've (sic) been around the sun."

Yes, you could sue. You can sue now. You can sue a potted plant in this country. You will not win. Industries are allowed to self regulate. Piercers already have These rules are not governed by law, but by self regulation.

Con is the instigator, and has supported her position with faulty premises. I have shown each area of support cannot hold. At this point, Con has provided no legal basis for voters to remove restrictions on laws concerning tattoos and piercings. Legal responsibility is the standard here, not maturity.
Debate Round No. 2


KatiePie forfeited this round.


My opponent has left the site. This debate is over.
Debate Round No. 3


KatiePie forfeited this round.


Same as above.
Debate Round No. 4


KatiePie forfeited this round.


See Above.
Debate Round No. 5
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by t.bennett 3 years ago
What I would also like to bring to the table for pro is that the frontal lobe of the brain is not developed completely until about age 25. The frontal lobe is in charge of decision-making and thought process. If, and it isn't developed in the brain of an adolescent, then, the child or adolescent will not see the full picture as to what getting the tattoo or piercing will be later on. I would also like to mention that in a fifteen to sixteen year old's mind, they aren't thinking anyways. They are literally absent in most decisions as they are made with the instinctive lobe (amygdala). So, even with parents consent, (which doesn't mean a lot, I personally learned my parents signatures) the decision that is made will not be full-minded.
Posted by sherlockmethod 6 years ago
I only vote if my opponent forfeits, she did. All 7 pts Pro.
Posted by sherlockmethod 6 years ago
All that effort for a suspended account. I should have known better.
Posted by sherlockmethod 6 years ago
As should be expected in my debates, I will take some time in responding. Please do not leave as I hate forfeited debates.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by sherlockmethod 6 years ago
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Total points awarded:07