When I first read that a mother in Georgia allowed her 10-year-old son to get a tattoo, I thought, WTF. A tattoo, people! On a 10-year-old! Then I discovered that the tattoo is actually in memory of the boy’s older brother, Malik, who was hit and killed by a teenage driver at age 12.
The 10-year-old, Gaquan, was with his brother when he died. That was a couple of years ago now, but he recently told his mom, Chuntera Napier, that he wanted to get a tattoo as a way of honoring Malik’s memory. (Gaguan has several tattoos of her own in her late son’s memory.)
“My son came to me and said, ‘Mom, I want to get a tattoo with Malik on it, rest in peace.’ What do I say to a child that wants to remember his brother?” Napier said.
She claims she didn’t know it was illegal for a 10-year-old to get a tattoo, and so she took her son to a tattoo artist, who gave the boy a tattoo featuring Malik’s old jersey number. As Napier explained, “It made me feel good to know that he wanted his brother on him.”
Gaquan then returned to school, where someone noticed his new ink and called authorities. Napier is now facing child cruelty charges. (It’s illegal for anyone under 18 to get a tattoo, even with their parent’s consent.)
“We hope that they can find something that can sustain them through that loss, but this is not the way. It is illegal and it’s something that we were bound by the law to investigate and to prosecute,” said Acworth police chief Mike Wilkie. (They’re also investigating the tattoo artist.)
I don’t think there’s ever justification for permanently inking a child, though my heart just breaks for this family who suffered such a tragic loss. Napier is set to appear in court in March.