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Have Your Say: Is it Child Abuse to Pierce a Baby’s Ears?

Have Your Say: Is it Child Abuse to Pierce a Baby’s Ears?

I remember like yesterday what it felt like when I had my ears pierced. I was 13 years old and it was a birthday present. My mum and I both got them done together. I had it done with the guns and I was really, really surprised by just how much it hurt. It was sharp, intense pain and then the burning lasted for hours afterwards. Then there was the discomfort of constantly turning them and disinfecting them and breaking up the scabs as they healed.

And it is these memories that are driving my feelings and opinion as to whether or not it is abusive for a parent to pierce the ears of their sweet, innocent, trusting babies. I say yeah, it is.

For one, they aren’t asking for it. They don’t know earrings exist. They have no desire to be put through ANY discomfort, pain or risk of infection (or tearing the things out accidentally by inquisitive fingers). It is their parents who want “the look”. Whether it’s to make them look more feminine or in some misguided thinking that it won’t hurt them as much because they won’t remember(?), I don’t know.

What I do know is that it should be up to the child to ask for this, when they are old enough to even know whether or not they WANT it. And any parent who thinks otherwise is delusional. Because, seriously – tattoos are trendy now – why not get one of them while they’re little?

And while we’re at it, can we not please not compare this to circumcision? Whilst there are parents that get that done for the aesthetic value, there are also a whole host of people who do it for cultural, hygiene or medical reasons and is a completely different debate for another day.

Just watch this video and see the look of shock in this poor baby’s eyes and listen to her scream and tell me this isn’t mean and unnecessary.

Carolyn Murphy

Carolyn Murphy

Carolyn Murphy is a married mother of three and regularly provides us with recipes and strange but true stories about her life. When she’s not here, she can also be found on her website where all her other recipes are located!


  1. In all honesty it’s a parents decision! I had both my girls done…number 1 at 3 months and number 2 at 6 weeks.. and these are the reasons why…yes it does hurt but with both mine they cried for less than 60 seconds and went straight to tge breast for a feed and never cried again! Secondly as a tiny baby they heal quicker…2 weeks of bathing the ears with tgeir baths and the ears were fully healed….as babies they also lack the dexterity to “fiddle” with the earings that also decreases chances of infection. And lastly they grow up and their earings just become part of them and they rarely play with them, and if they don’t want them when they are older they can just take the earings out and the holes heal over…but to each their own…

  2. It is definitely the parents’ decision. But so is any other child abuse. In physical abuse, for example, of course it is the parents’ decision to beat the child. Why? Because the child cannot defend himself. A baby has no power to say, “No, Mommy. I don’t want to be hit.” A baby doesn’t even KNOW what hitting is. Even if he/she does, the parent will continue hitting anyway.

    What I want to say is… Yes, it is child abuse. The definition of Emotional Abuse is when a child’s feeling is treated like it doesn’t matter. So if a baby cries, even if it is over a very trivial thing, and the parent says “It’s no big deal”, it is abuse.

    This is different from necessary parenting when a child cries and screams in order to avoid doing homework.

    What you don’t realize is, that even if your child only cried for 60 minutes after the piercing, and grew up forgetting about it, that moment has been locked into their unconscious memory: The moment that “Mommy allowed strangers to stabbed me with a sharp needle. What’s worse is that I cried like hell and yet she doesn’t listen to my pain. In fact, she kissed me as if I deserved to be stabbed.”

    The message she received is: My feelings don’t matter. Mommy’s feelings matter more.

    What’s alarming is that the baby was clearly in pain in the photos. And yet the mom just smiled and kissed her, unattuned to the baby’s pain. YOU don’t think it’s a big deal because you yourself was treated the same way growing up, and was conditioned to think that it’s okay.

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