Boy in state custody; parents says tattoos are part of their family tradition
POSTED: Saturday, June 23, 2012 - 4:30pm
UPDATED: Saturday, June 23, 2012 - 4:34pm
NBC NATIONAL NEWS — In the Garrison family, it's a tradition.
"He got his initials out there on the right leg at the very bottom," said Jerry Garrison.
All of the family members have their initials in ink. So when Jerry Garrisson's 10 year old grandson wanted his initials tattooed on his leg...
"I didn't see why a tattoo was such a big issue to begin with, and I didn't see where none of this was right,' he said.
Garrisson says the Florida Department of Children and Families came to his Jacksonville home with another concern, and when they saw his grandson's tattoo, they told him it was a problem.
Because of other allegations, DCF placed his grandkids in foster care.
"My little son called me and said, Dad, I'm so scared, I want to come home so bad. When you have your youngin' call and tell you he's scared. I want to go put my arms around him and say son, it's all right, it's really all right. But no, I can't," he said.
He thinks the tattoo played a role in DCF removing his grandkids, and doesn't know how to fix it.
"I ain't never been in pain like this, it's the worst pain I have ever felt in my life. In my whole entire life," he said.
Department of Children and Families Spokesman John Harrell says it wasn't the tattoo, but additional allegations that had the children removed.
"When you get in to cases like this, is the child being abused? Is the child at risk? Are the actions of the parents putting the child at risk," said Harrell.
Legally, the tattoo isn't DCF's call. But in the business for 20 years, tattoo artist Todd Lake says it's just wrong.
"We'll tattoo down to the age of 16, don't really like to do that," said Lake.
Lake says legally the standards in Florida have changed in the past year.
"Under the old law, I believe you probably could bring your kid in, legally, with notarized parental consent. But right now it's probably a big gray area in the law. So that's a tough case," said Lake.
The law did change in 2012.
Previous to the new law, it was legal to tattoo a child with expressed parental consent. Under the new law, a child under the age of 16 cannot be tattooed unless it is for medical or dental reasons.
It is a misdemeanor for the tattoo artist, not for the guardian of the child. Children 16-18 can be tattooed with parental consent. And once a person turns 18, it's their choice.
No arrests have been made in this case.