One Store’s Policy Could Have Serious Implications For Girls Down The Road

In a time when parental authority is being trampled by overreaching government and schools, it is always good to be reminded that parents alone are responsible for making important decisions regarding their child’s well-being.

But what happens when a parent makes a decision that a child vehemently opposes – especially if it will cause pain and is not necessary?

This was the question raised by a boutique employee who recently had a terrible workplace experience that led her to quit her job.

Children are innocent, vulnerable, and dependent on us as parents to do what is best for them.

When they are very young, it is especially important that we make good decisions – after all, they are not able to choose what they eat or how they dress, or make decisions about their health and safety.

That is our job, but sometimes parents have ulterior motives that are not always in the best interests of the child.

Take, for example, a recent incident at a popular boutique where a mom wanted to get her daughter’s ears pierced.

Although it is a common occurrence – almost a coming-of-age – many parents wait until their kids are pre-teens or teenagers before they allow them to get a piercing.

In fact, a minor under the age of 18 requires a parent’s consent in order to get their ears pierced.

But on a recent trip to a Claire’s Boutique store – a popular destination for young girls to get their ears pierced – something very disturbing occurred.

A young girl came in with her mother to get her ears pierced.  An employee – who later wrote a letter to the company about her concerns – said the girl was very nervous and begged and cried for a half-hour not to go through with it.

The mother began to pressure her daughter, who continued to beg employees not to touch her, stating she was uncomfortable and refusing the piercing.

Fortunately, the girl’s mother finally relented and they went home.

But for the employee, Raylene Marks, it struck a chord.

Claire’s policy is that employees must go through with a piercing if the parent demands it, as this girl’s mother originally did.

Had the mother not relented and Marks refused to pierce the girl’s ears, Marks could have been fired.

This “company policy” was confirmed by upper management when Marks discussed the incident with them.

The policy of forcing kids to get pierced if their parents demand it – even if they have to be held down in the process — led her to the decision to quit her job.

Marks calls these “gray area” piercings, saying, “I didn’t feel good about those, and I started to wonder at what point the piercer and the parent are actually violating a child’s personal boundaries,” according to Café Mom.

“Children can be held down and pierced. Children do not have a voice in the piercing process. The associate doing the piercing has no right to refuse to shoot metal through the ears of a child who begs not to be touched,” Marks wrote to corporate management after giving her notice.

She is very concerned that this policy can lead to children thinking that they have no right to say “no,” an especially troubling scenario to think about if a child is really in danger of being harmed or violated.

She feels that Claire’s policy opens up the door to kids feeling intimidated, even abused, into relenting to something they don’t want to do.

“I cannot be part of a company that teaches a child that their right to say, ‘NO,’ to invasive non-medical contact can be so easily overridden by an adult, and moreover, that they’re supposed to accept that,” she added in her letter.

She sent a plea to Claire’s, and other companies that pierce children’s ears, to consider changing the policy of forced restraint against frightened kids.

She also asserts that employees must meet ear-piercing “quotas” that may mean that the company is pushing resistant kids even harder in order to sell more products.  Marks even went so far as to get another piercing herself once in order to meet the store’s quota.

For now, a representative says the policy may be changed so that employees can refuse to pierce a child who is “distressed or resisting,” but Marks feels it should be far more clear.

If the child says “no” to having their ears pierced – well before they are in distress or physically resisting – it should mean “no,” whether the parent demands it or not.

“If you are a company that cares about kids, I implore you to consider changing this policy that blatantly ignores every child who vocally protests, cries, shows obvious signs of distress or is physically restrained by their alleged guardian while they sob and beg to be released,” Marks continued in the letter.

Marks even contacted local social services organizations and found that there is no legislation to protect kids from having their ears pierced if a parent demands it.

She has received support from other employees of the chain who say that similar incidents have made them question the policy – or even leave the company.

Marks says she will hold Claire’s to their promise to review the current policies and will continue to advocate for these kids by pleading with parents to follow a few guidelines.

This is an involuntary procedure for cosmetic purposes.  It does cause pain and discomfort.  A child should be old enough to voluntarily ask to have their ears pierced, be responsible enough to keep them clean to avoid infection and, above all, if they change their mind at the last minute, don’t force them to go through with it.

It’s that simple.

If a child learns that “no” doesn’t really mean someone is going to stop forcing them to do something they don’t want to do, what could that mean when they are older and are forced into a serious situation in which they try to protect their bodies?

The implications are frightening –  especially for our young girls.

What do you think about Claire’s policy?  Do you think kids should have to consent to getting their ears pierced?  Leave us your comments.

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