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Delaware County ordinance will require both parents to be present when minors get tattoos, piercings

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DELAWARE COUNTY, Ind. – A new ordinance in Delaware County is creating a lot of buzz and not all of it is positive. The rules require both parents to be present when a minor wants a tattoo or any piercing other than the earlobe.

The new law is coming with many questions after the Delaware County Health Department posted about the ordinance on their public Facebook page. The ordinance does not define what parents in households must do if the other parent can't be present.

Parents told CBS4 they felt the new laws were "overboard." There are concerns among the tattoo and piercing communities that the law is confusing for parents who may not be physically able to have both present at the time of the service.

There are also concerns that shops and artists may lose out on money when both parents can't be present with a minor. Jay Williams, Co-Owner of Black Sword Alliance, said he has never tattooed a minor, but many teens get their nose pierced for their 16th birthday. Under the new ordinance, a teen who wants a nose piercing would have to have both parents present to sign consent forms during the service.

"The only thing it does is make it more difficult for people to get services for their kids if they choose to do so," Williams said.

Williams said in his nearly two decades of experience, he's never been taken to court by a parent upset over a tattoo or piercing. According to the health department’s Facebook page, that's what they're trying to avoid.

Still, many parents have questions about if both parents can't be present. CBS4 took your questions to the health department administrator, Jammie Bane, who replied via email. When asked if one parent can sign for another if they can't be present, Bane responded, "based on the ordinance wording, no." When asked if one parent is incarcerated and cannot attend or if a parent has a no-contact order for the other parent, Bane replied, "the accompanying parent could choose to sign declaring themselves as the sole legal guardian. Alternately, the artists/shop could choose to turn them away if they wish."

The same answer was provided for other questions, including if one parent lives out of state or the parents are separated and do not communicate. Parents must be able to sign a legal document stating they are the sole guardian.

According to Bane, the artist/shop has the right to designate its own form of documentation to prove guardianship. Williams said he wasn't told that during a visit by a health inspector.

"I had a board of health inspector ask me for death certificates in the case of a deceased parent," Williams said.

Williams also said he has concerns this new rule might only encourage minors to get piercings in other ways, rather than going to a credited shop.

"To me, this creates a public health problem, because when you’re taking away good venues for people to get a service in a safe environment, they’ll figure out a way to do it," Williams said.

Instead of trying to navigate the new ordinance, Williams said he won't serve minors at all after the New Year.

"I would turn that person away. I don’t want to maintain records for people’s personal lives and relationship statuses," said Williams.

The ordinance is similar to one passed in Madison County. If a shop or artist doesn't follow the new rules, they could get fined $2,500 each day. The ordinance went into effect on Dec. 4, but Bane said health department officials won't enforce it until 2018.

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