Managers at Claire’s Say Employees Must Hold a Child Down And Pierce Their Ears Even If They Beg You Not To

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Should you pierce a child’s ears if they don’t want you to? According to this open letter written by a former Claire’s employee Raylene Marks, if you don’t pierce a child’s ears when a parent asks you to, you can lose your job.

When my daughter was four, she really wanted to get her ears pierced. I knew it was going to hurt (I got mine done when I was four) but she really wanted it, and I took her to the mall to have them done.

While she was sitting in the chair, a man walked in from outside and pointed straight at me. “Shame on you for forcing that little girl to have her ears pierced. How dare you!”

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I thought he was kidding, but he just kept staring, until finally my four year old spoke up for me, “I want this. Shhhh.”

Without an apology, he turned on his heel and walked right out of the store.

It was the first time I had ever seen her take control of what she wanted done to her body, and I was really really proud. She got her ears pierced that day, and was so happy that she did.

A seven year girl came into Claire’s where Marks was working to get her ears pierced. Marks and another employee were going to do a “double” for her. (That’s where they pierce both ears at the same time, to prevent the kid from getting nervous after the first one and only getting one ear done.)

The little girl changed her mind after she walked into the store and did NOT want to get her ears pierced, and the mother begged and begged her to.

This child was articulate, smart, and well aware of herself and her body. She expressed that she didn’t want us touching her, that we were standing too close, that she was feeling uncomfortable. She made it clear she no longer wanted to get her ears pierced. She begged, over and over again, for Mom to please, just take her home. That child’s message was loud and clear to me: Do not touch my body, do not pierce my ears, I do not want to be here.

Marks refused to be a part of the piercing. The mom ended up respecting her child’s wishes in the long run and took her home.

The next day, her manager asked Marks about the incident. She told her manager that the child had begged to be left alone, and she was not going to pierce her ears. Her manager said that if the mom had wanted her daughter’s ears pierced, she would have had to do it.

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The only policy Claire’s has in place about piercings is that they “reserve the right to refuse an ear piercing if a successful one cannot be done.”

When Marks asked her managers about the policy they said that not only should employees pierce a child’s ears if the mother is physically holding them down, but that they HAVE TO.

“So if a mother is physically restraining her daughter, holding her down and saying, ‘DO IT,’ while that little girl cries and asks me not to, do I do the piercing?” My manager did not hesitate to respond, “Yes, you do the piercing.”

Marks also said that she checked with district sales managers, and they confirm that this policy is correct: Children can be held down and pierced. Children do not have a voice in the piercing process. The associate doing the piercing has no right to refuse.

Marks chose not to be a part of a company that doesn’t respect a child’s right to say no, and turned in her resignation that day. But she didn’t just stop there. She wants a full change in policy. She wants to give the power back to the children.

In other words, she wants the children to have the right to say no if they don’t want a piercing done to their body. Claire’s store managers disagree, and say that if a parents wants their child to be pierced, it’s the employee’s job to do it.

I am with Marks 100 percent. Children should have a right to decide if they get their ears pierced or not. How can we teach our children about consent if they don’t?

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  1. My daughter’s ears were pierced in the hospital, hours after she was delivered.
    It is a common procedure where I’m from, but we still have little girls and adult women without ear piercings.
    I’d love to have another ear piercing, but I’m not sure I can stand the pain even at my age. How much more a 4-year-old.
    Some kids will cry when getting their hair done, taking a bath, taking medical shots and whatnot. At the end of the day, the parent knows what’s best for their own child.
    I really hope Claire’s have changed that policy because it is messed up.

  2. I agree with the employee. If a child is in fear why put them through duress. Forcing them to do something they don’t want to do is abusive and abuse stays with someone. Also teaching boundaries and consent is important. If you take away a child’s autonomy when will they learn that key lesson. It’s difficult to unwind psychological though not impossible. The odds are it will be a vague memory filed in the very back and the child’s future actions redirected as a result though she’ll never know why she can’t say no.

  3. At the end of the day the parent makes decisions for their child be mad at the parent not at the piercers. If she didnt like it then quitting was the right decision. As she stated as long as the piercing can be done successfully the piercing can be done. Employees are aware that piercing children is a major part of the job. You can agree or disagree but legally the parents makes the decision for their child. There is many things parents force on their children religion diets meds shots the list goes on. Is that considered abuse? Js

    1. That’s all well and good but when a child refuses consent then that becomes actual bodily harm!

  4. As a former manager for the company in question (10+ years) I can say that I have flat out refused to pierce children’s ears when they clearly don’t want it done on more than a dozen occasions. I also encouraged all of my employees to do the same if they were uncomfortable with the situation. I say shame on the store manager and the district manager in question for trying to force their employees to perform unsafe piercings!

  5. Claire’s is garbage anyway. They pierce with garbage jewelry and have no clue what they’re doing. Work at an actual piercing establishment if your want to pierce people, not a children’s costume accessory store. I’m going to start calling DCF when I see this forcing kids to submit to body modification crap.

  6. I would never pierce my child’s ears if they decided not to last minute. I would not hold them down and make them do it! That is abuse in my mind! Any parent who wants to physically restrain their child to make them get their ears pierced is a piece of crap and should have the Dhs called on their ass!

    1. I was just thinking if a person from dcfs would have walked by or a mandated reporter it would have been a big wake up call for the mom

  7. Sarah watts.
    You need a punch in the face.
    Because we have decided you do. That’s all.

  8. Totally agree. A piercing isn’t a necessary medical procedure by any means so forcing a child to do something like this is abusive.

    But what also is abusive is reading an article with about a serious subject but the author either doesn’t take time to proof their work or just doesn’t know how to write. Proof your work and use Grammerly, or some other software, to help you.proof tour writing.

    1. Yes Scott, you should proof read your work, especially when it’s “with about a serious subject” DOUCHE!

  9. I was a Store Manager at Claire’s for over 3 years in my 20’s. I now have a baby of my own and couldn’t imagine wanting to get his ear(s) pierced. That being said, I still fall somewhere in the middle of this controversial topic. There are no age restrictions in place, I have pierced people from 7 days old to 102 years old. Toddlers can change their mind and panic, but infants do not. People seem to perceive a toddler crying through an ear piercing as child abuse more than an unaware infant. I’m not sure which is better. Tears don’t necessarily mean anything. My family visited me at work once and I pierced all of my nieces ears, they were ages 5-12. Lastly, I pierced my teenage nephew and he was the only one to cry, yet nobody saw this as abuse since he wanted the piercing. At the end of the day, it’s in the hands of the parents. There are many cultural differences and personal beliefs that drive parents to feel the way they do about what is right for their child. While everyone feels differently, I never met a parent who was doing anything they didn’t truly believe was right for their little one. The employees (often as young as 16) rely on the judgment of the parents. Any incidents of true abuse within a store are just the tip of the iceberg and it’s unfortunate that parents cannot be trusted 100% of the time.

  10. Totally with the child here. I have a few daughters. If they decided, at the store, that they didn’t want their ears pierced, what kind of mother would I be to FORCE it on them??? What? Because I’m the adult and I said so? That sounds like abuse! Piercings are for beauty. Who am I to tell them they must permanently have holes in their ears?

  11. For something like piercings where the child has to look after them and clean them properly it needs someone who actually wants them in otherwise they will just get infected!

    That is aside from the consent thing, this is not for their safety. It is not to help the day to day running of the house. It isn’t going to benefit anyone. It should always be a choice. It’s why I hate when people get their babies ears pierced, before that child has a choice whether they want pierced ears.

    1. Girl shut up. Im the parent if i want my baby ears pierced then thats what i am going to do she is an infant and at the end of the day she wont remember the pain she endured. I mean parents give kids vaccinations with out they consent and its the exact same pain they feel. If you feel like this is abuse then a tap on the hand or a time out is a abuse. You guys are literally over doing it.

  12. All I say is UN Convention for the rights of the child. I think you’ll find they are breaking it.

  13. Does that same 10 year old child that can decline to have their ears pierced on their own,do they need consent to get their ears pierced in the first place? You can’t have it both ways,you can’t say at 10 years old they should be able to give change their mind if they want to. So then also at 10 years old they should be able to walk in while hanging out with friends at the mall and get their ears pierced without a parent. These are children until age 18, if I’m paying for it and my child wants it even in the moment it’s going to happen because once we get home,she will just start again so yeah if she says she wants to get her ears pierced we are piercing her ears regardless of how.

    1. Not only can you not articulate thoughts properly, but forcing something on a child if they’ve changed their mind is not good parenting

    2. Ok first off….”?you are way way off in your statement. It is still a parents right to say whether a child can initially get their ears or anywhere else pierced. BUT it is the child’s right to decide to not get them pierced or to change their mind. You are taking their control over their own body away if you FORCE them to pierce their body.

      1. She held that body for 9 months lynn is definitely the moms body also

    3. God forbid it be a consensus between parent and child up to and including the moment of the piercing. So a kid’s consent about their own body ends when it becomes inconvenient for the parent? That’s not how this stuff should work. As a parent, if they then changed their mind again when we got back home, I might ask them to work through what made them say “no” in the store. And ask them to take some time and think about it. It could be a really incredible conversation about the power of their agency and their desires for and about their own body. Then maybe we could try again in a couple months. People change their minds. That should really be OK. Your scenario makes the piercing punitive and mean. Then that’s their memory of something that should be simple and fun.

    4. If a child changes their mind last minute then they will refuse to sit still and it becomes unsafe to pierce their ears.

  14. My daughter was 5 and she’d been begging me 2 years i finally gave in. She got them done, not at Claire’s. On her 10th birthday she got them done double, at Claire’s then when she was 15 she got the cartilage done.

  15. I’m sure the police would take a different view if they witnessed a scene like this.

  16. I agree 110% no child should be held down if they say no then thats it let the children make decision on piercings or not!!

  17. A child has a right to decide what they want to do to their body. By law they can decide what they don’t and do want in regards to cosmetic procedures. Holding a child down against there will with no risk of there own safety or someone’s else’s is against the law and is child cruelty. Shame on you Claire’s. would never ever let my child get pierced by a unqualified person and especially not with a gun.

    1. (Former Claire’s manager here) Employees are actually trained fairly well, and there has been plenty of research done stating that when the equipment is taken care of properly there is no difference in safety between using a needle and using a piercing gun. That being said, I do agree that no one should be forced to have their ears pierced if they don’t want it, regardless of age.

  18. I agree !!
    Also there should be a minumum age of 10 to decide whether they want it doing.

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