Bayside teen Elana Campane is considering getting her belly button pierced. She hasn’t told her parents yet, and she’s not sure that they will approve of a piercing that’s not in her ears.
For now, the 17-year-old doesn’t need their permission, but she will in a few months when New York becomes the 32nd state to make it illegal for minors to get a body piercing without parental consent.
Luckily, said Campane, she will turn 18 at the end of December.
The new law, which Governor Andrew Cuomo signed on Tuesday, July 31, requires anyone under 18 years old to obtain written consent by a parent or guardian before getting a piercing on any part of the body except for the ear.
“Body piercings can pose a significant health risk if not cared for properly,” said Assemblymember Michael Simanowitz, who co-sponsored the bill. “This will now ensure that parents are aware of their son or daughter’s intent to receive a body piercing which will hopefully prevent complications such as allergic reactions, skin infections or scarring.”
According to the governor’s office, about 20 percent of all body piercings result in infection.
After reading an article about the risks of body piercing, Simanowitz discovered that although it is illegal to tattoo anyone under 18 without parental permission, there was no minimum age requirement for body piercings.
“My children’s school can’t give my 14-year-old a Tylenol without permission, but he can walk into a store and get a body piercing,” said Simanowitz.
A minor will assess the risk of a body piercing differently than an adult, he added.
Piercing studios will need to check the identification of those suspected of being underage, and the owner or body piercing specialist must be present when a parental consent form is signed. The state health department will oversee the new law.
But it’s already common practice for some body piercing places to card potential minors and require signed consent, said Juan Orellana, co-owner of Skin Konviction, a tattoo and body piercing studio in Flushing.
“We’d rather not take any chances,” he said.