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Parents Arrested for Giving Kids Homemade Tattoos

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The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: A northwest Georgia couple arrested for giving six of their children homemade tattoos say they didn't do anything wrong. The kids, they say, wanted the tattoos to be like Mom and Dad.

kid with tattoo

"I'm their mother," Patty Jo Marsh said late Saturday. "Shouldn't I be able to decide if they get one?"

Georgia law prohibits tattoos from anyone other than a licensed professional. Children under 18 are also prohibited from getting tattoos.

Marsh and her husband, Jacob Bartels, did the tattoos in their Summerville home. They cleaned up a tattoo machine someone gave them, and used guitar strings as a needle. Out of the seven children in their custody, only the youngest child did not get a tattoo.

"They weren't hurt by them," Marsh said. "We would never do anything to hurt them."

Marsh said the children, ages 10 to 17, wanted the small cross tattoos, and the couple did them after Thanksgiving. But when two of the children spent a weekend after Christmas with their biological mother, she reported it to DFACS and police.

At least 10 police officers searched the family's home on Dec. 28, Marsh says, and she and her husband were arrested. They were each charged with cruelty to children, reckless conduct and tattooing, something Marsh they didn't realize was illegal.

"If we knew that, we wouldn't have done it," Marsh said.

The couple bonded out of jail Friday, and now is awaiting a court date. DFACS temporarily took the children out of the home, Marsh said. But now all of the children are home.

Marsh says she feels that the entire incident has gotten blown out of proportion. The couple contends they are good parents, but now they're being labeled child abusers, which Marsh says is untrue.

"If I'm such a bad parent, then how come they brought the kids back right after I got out jail?" Marsh asked.

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122 comments so far | Post a comment now
Sheryl January 4, 2010, 2:04 PM

I am a mother of two children. My 15yrs old daughter wanted a tattoo soooo badly of which my response was when she was 18yrs old and still wanted a tattoo i would take her down and pay for it myself….my daughter is now 19yrs old and still does not have one. By her choice, not mine now. Obviously this was something that was not discussed with the biological mother since she is the one who called it in. There is a serious issue when you are not co-partenting in relations to decisions made regarding children with something so permanent. There is a reason why there is age limits in place to protect children from things they do not understand. This is not getting a ear piercing, something of which can just simply be taken out…this is big and i would be devastated as the mother to not be included in on a decision as this. I personally believe that they way crossed their broundries on this one and what do you do to correct it? You can’t take a eraser to this one!

mt January 4, 2010, 2:27 PM

“If I’m such a bad parent, then how come they brought the kids back right after I got out jail?” Marsh asked.

I completely agree with this woman - the authorities never should have returned the children to her.

A 10-year-old can not possibly understand what it means to permanently scar your own skin.

Kim January 4, 2010, 2:52 PM

Seriously, is this lady really that ignorant? It’s called common sense, they apparently have none & obviously need to ask opinions before they make important decisions that affects their kids. Haven’t they heard of temporary tattoos? They r KID friendly & NOT permanent! So if the kids wanted to do other “adult behaviors” it’d be ok b/c mom & dad did it & supervised?

tennmom January 4, 2010, 2:56 PM

I hesitate to call the woman a bad parent, but I consider her to be a stupid parent.
Giving children under the age of 18 something just because they want it? What if one of them had ended up with hepititus (sp?)?

Anonymous January 4, 2010, 4:19 PM

they should be thown in jail for a long time whats wrong with them

Anonymous January 5, 2010, 12:25 PM

im glad we can clump these people in with real scumbags who i dont know, hold their child’s face to a hot stove or maybe beat them with an electrical cord. so what the kids got a little ink, whats the big deal? did they suffer any injuries or illness in the process? something tells me they didn’t, was this a smart thing to do? no. was it an evil reprehensible thing to do? absolutely not. THEY GOT CROSSES FOR F’S SAKE.

Sono_hito January 5, 2010, 5:18 PM

In a society in which it is completely “normal” or “socially acceptable” to perform male genital mutilation (aka circumcision) purely for cosmetic reasons at birth without consent of the recipient; whats wrong with giving art to someone that they themselves made the choice with?

Anonymous January 6, 2010, 1:10 PM

I really don’t think this is a big deal.
If my parents gave me a tattoo, it would always be my favorite & most personal tattoo. It would mean so much to me.

How is this even cruelty? They are just little crosses.

Also, the children’s biological mother probably just reported it just so she could have legal custody of them.

Ericka January 7, 2010, 10:00 PM

Beyond the illegal and idiotic factors. It’s funny how she says “I’m their mother,” “Shouldn’t I be able to decide if they get one?”, then we find out she’s actually their STEPmother. Important decisions in children’s lives should be the decision of both biological parents (if both are in their lives of course)and they obviously didn’t ask the biological mother since she called the cops on them.

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