In the state of California, it is a misdemeanor to tattoo a minor (person under the age of 18), irregardless of parental consent. This means that under no circumstances, even if the parent is with the minor agreeing to it, can a minor receive a tattoo. However, it is not against the law for minors to get body piercings, as long as parental consent is given either in person (during the piercing) or in writing (must be notarized). When it comes to the law, tattooing and body piercing are very different and must be treated as such, especially in the case where a minor is involved. Other states vary as to the laws pertaining to tattooing of minors. Before you engage in this, or allow this as a parent, call your local health department to see what the law states in your region of the country.
In Los Angeles County, California, if your son or daughter wants a piercing, you must be with them, or give written consent for the procedure. But when it comes to tattoos, it does not matter whether it’s okay with you (as the parent) or not, it is against the law. Any tattoo shop (or artist) that ignores this law and is willing to tattoo your child is breaking the law, and worse, if you have signed a release form for them to do so, you are an accomplice. In case you do not think this is a big deal think again; there have been many cases of parents prosecuted for encouraging (or forcing in some cases) their minor children to get tattooed, with many resulting in jail time. The rule of thumb is this; if a tattoo shop is willing to break the law to make money off of you, they are probably breaking other laws (in regards to mandated sterility standards for tattoo and piercing supplies) that you aren’t aware of that could put your health and safety at risk. Find a body artist that registered with the county health department and can provide proof of their compliance with the laws regarding body art and procedures before you allow anyone to work on you or the ones you love.