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Mom accused of tattooing her own kids gets arrested

Avital Norman Nathman is a freelance writer whose work places a feminist lens on a variety of topics, including motherhood, maternal health, gender, and reproductive rights. Her work has been featured in Bitch magazine,,...

Mom's life-changing 'gift' to her sons lands her in hot water with the police

A New York mom is in trouble after allegedly tattooing the hands of both her sons, ages 12 and 13. Chantilly L. Thomas of Frewsburg was arrested last week for illegally inking up her young sons in their home. Thomas, who is not a licensed, trained tattoo artist, used an actual ink gun to mark up her sons' hands.

Thomas, who was charged with "unlawfully dealing with a child in the second degree," allegedly tattooed "Ride or Die" on the back of her 12-year-old's hand and a lightning bolt on her older son's hand. Police were responding to a report of mistreatment when they saw the tattoos, which they believe were done around Nov. 25 (Thanksgiving family activity?). Thomas was released and is due in court on Jan. 20.

This could easily be a story about an unfit mother. Many people will want to frame it in that way. But this is less about bad mothering and more about stupid, awful stuff people (in general) do. It's certainly made worse because there are children involved, no doubt, but this is wrong on a much larger level than "bad mom."

More: School sued over teachers telling little boy he has a bad mom

First, Thomas is not a licensed tattoo artist, so she should not have been using an ink gun on anyone, let alone on her children. Her kids are both underage, and she tattooed them in their house, making it not only incredibly illegal but unsanitary as well. Yes, we should be outraged about somebody allowing young kids to be permanently marked, because obviously that's super stupid, but it's also super unsafe. Thomas could have given her kids an infection, hit or damaged a nerve in their hands or who knows what else.

Second, these are kids. There is absolutely no way they have the cognitive ability or forethought to allow something permanent like this on their bodies. Children should certainly be allowed to creatively express themselves. Let them wear their hair in whatever style they prefer or even dye it all the colors of the rainbow. Allow them to dress the way they like or even pierce an ear or two (those holes easily close back up in most cases).

More: The secret I'm tempted to keep from my kids about their conception

But to permanently etch something on their skin? A lightning bolt isn't all that bad (Harry Potter fan for life!), but what does a 12-year-old know about "Ride or Die?" He's not old enough to be part of a motorcycle gang, let alone ride one legally (although in this family, you never know…). So is his tat in reference to his Hot Wheels gang? Or maybe he's in on the new "hoverboard" craze? Either way, when he eventually grows up, he will be like, "WTF was my mom thinking, allowing me to get this?"

I love my kid, but if I asked him what he wanted tattooed on his hand, he'd eventually be a 34-year-old man living with SpongeBob SquarePants ink. This is the reason temporary tattoos are all the rage with kids (and their parents!) these days.

While there aren't many more details on exactly why Thomas inked up her sons, it will be interesting to see how this plays out once it goes to court. However, the bottom line is that nobody should be tattooing anyone unless they are licensed and trained and are doing so in a proper environment. Also, parents, don't believe your kids this time when they whine, "But everyone is doing it!"

More: Dad lets his 4-year-old give him an adorable new tattoo

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