Mom arrested over 12-year-old daughter's tattoo

The mother of a 12-year-old girl has been arrested after a “Jesus Loves” tattoo was spotted on her daughter’s shoulder.

The tattoo, which also featured a blue-green cross, was seen by a fifth-grade teacher at Arnco-Sargent Elementary in Newnan, Ga., during a school dance, when the girl wore a strapless dress, according to 11 Alive Atlanta. The teacher called the police to report it.

“Each of the parents had a different story, and it boiled down to frankly just finger pointing,” Lt. Jason Fetner, of the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office, told the news station.

The girl originally told authorities that her father forced her to get the tattoo and that it angered her mother; later, the girl reportedly changed her story to say that she had wanted to get the tattoo. The father, meanwhile, told authorities that his daughter had gotten the tattoo at a Super Bowl party; this was confirmed by a video of tattoo artist Brenda Gaddy tattooing several people there, including “a number of minors,” said Fetner. “It’s difficult to imagine how as a parent you think it’s appropriate to supervise or allow someone to give your child a tattoo at that age.”

Gaddy was arrested along with the girl’s mom, Emmie Nolan, 35, who was charged with being a party to a crime. “I think it’s unfortunate in that the child actually wanted to get the tattoo,” said Fetner. “It’s not like the child was forced to get the tattoo; I think it just comes down to bad parenting.”

The story of the “Jesus Loves” tat sparked controversy on Facebook, where 11 Alive posted its report on Tuesday morning. Although tattooing minors is illegal in the state of Georgia — and laws vary by state, with some allowing the tattooing of minors with parental consent — the post asked its readers, “Are tattoos under the age of 18 appropriate? We’re asking because a mom was charged after her 5th grader got this tattoo at a Superbowl party.”

Some answered in black-and-white terms, including one woman who noted, “The point of it being appropriate or not is not the issue. It is against that law. There are some things that people just have to wait on. There is a consequence to the action of allowing the child to do it and the artist for doing it.”

Another said this: “Under 18 is not acceptable. Kids are impulsive and unable to make proper decisions on their own. Just look at how ugly that tattoo is. She’s going to regret it later. The mother should be charged. That’s irresponsible parenting.”

And another commenter said, “At that age, no way. I was in my mid 20s when I got my first tattoo, and I am glad I waited that long. Knew of someone that would do tattoos for ‘kids’ when I was a teenager, but never had the guts to do it. If I had, I would have been stuck forever with something silly, and could have gotten a nasty infection.”

But others had more surprising reactions. “Not when you have parents telling their little girls they are little boys…not when you allow 13 year olds to begin sex change transitions…Tattoos? Child’s play,” noted one man, while another drew connections to reproductive rights. “It is perfectly legal and socially acceptable for mothers to abort their children, but it’s illegal and socially unacceptable for mothers to get their child a tattoo…Now that makes sense.”

Finally, though, was the comment from a mother who said her own 15-year-old had just decided to get a tattoo to honor his recently deceased father. “So don’t judge people,” she wrote, “because you never know what their story is!”

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