LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – A Lufkin grandmother called police when her 16 year old grandson showed up with a tattoo without her permission. Underage tattooing is against the law, and it can have dangerous consequences.
Lawrence Shaw doesn't hesitate a second before turning away minors from his Lufkin tattoo studio.
"I've had quite a few people this month coming in and ask," said Shaw.
It's against the law to tattoo anyone under 18. Even with a parent's OK.
"State law. You can not tattoo under the age of 18. Period," said Shaw.
That's why Lufkin police are investigating a woman's claims that her 16 year-old grandson is sporting a new tattoo. She wants to press charges on an individual who she's says illegally gave it to him.
With six years in the tattooing business, Shaw has a warning for parents.
"Your 16 year-old son could be tattooed by anybody. They call it scratching," said Shaw, "They may have their own equipment. They might have ten or 15 needles. It doesn't matter. They'll clean it with a little toothbrush - spray some Lysol."
Shaw says the biggest danger with kids getting tattoos is that they often go to unlicensed, uncertified artists.
"Some people are tattooing out of their bedroom, on your couch," said Shaw.
Since scratch tattoo artists are unlikely to practice routine sterile, hygienic procedures, minors are at risk. A new tattoo is basically an open flesh wound.
"What they're doing - going out there and spreading hepatitis, spreading diseases," said Shaw.
He's trying to fight back against these at-home tattoo artists because sometimes, the victims of scratchers bring their germs into his studio.
"Come in here they got bad cases of staph that they got from somebody tattooing out of their house," said Shaw.
State law does allow parental consent for covering existing tattoos on minors if the original tattoo's content is obscene, gang-related, or drug-related.