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Teenagers love to express themselves through fashion, music, and how they look. A recent clinical report on tattooing, piercing and scarification in teens and young adults showed that high ear piercings are common, along with nose and other piercings. This, along with body modifications such as Botox and lip fillers, have become very appealing to teenagers.

So as parents, where do you draw the line?

Illegality – the Hard Line

Tattoos, scarification and branding are illegal in Australia for teens under the age of 16. They’re legal with specific and clear parental approval between the ages of 16 – 18, and legal above the age of 18.

It’s illegal in most states in Australia to get a genital or nipple piercing under the age of 18. However, most other piercings are allowed.

If a fake ID is used, then the studio and professional will most likely be fined if the parents decide to take action after it’s been done.

Injectables and Surgery

There isn’t a law prohibiting the cosmetic use of Botox and other injectables in under-18’. However, many doctors refuse to do it. There are also mandatory cooling-off periods for many surgical procedures for under 18’s.

Non-Permanent Enjoyment and Self-Expression

Temporary changes and easily removeable piercings are an area where teens can safely express themselves and have fun with how they look. Some piercings however (including most facial piercings) do leave small permanent scars. Plus, anything that required gauge jewellery will need to be surgically repaired.

Aside from this, schools and workplaces often have regulations in place which should be heeded too.

Teen Decisions Shouldn’t be Permanent, Especially Body Modifications

Tattoos, branding and scarification are both permanent and painful. People change their styles and taste, and tattoo removal is both more painful and vastly more expensive than having the tattoo put on in the first place.

The Joys of Aftercare

Body piercings can take much longer to heal than many people realize. In fact, tattoos need to be carefully cared for when they’re both new and older, or else you risk substantial damage to the ink and/or risk colour fade. Infections are always a risk, so that needs to be factored in.

Getting the Right Advice

My advice is always to speak to the experts. If you have concerns about your teenager wanting an industrial piercing, then get on the phone or visit a local, reputable outlet and talk through it. Professionals will always want a positive outcome and share sensible advice.

One great online piercing source is The Piercing Urge. 

Often, teenagers don’t realise how fabulous they look, or how lovely they are. It’s a very personal decision to have modifications done, but there is a clear line between fun, non-permanent and legal looks, versus something that breaks the law and will leave them with a lifelong reminder.

Row Murray

Row Murray is a sex educator and author of the teen book, For Foxes' Sake. For Foxes’ Sake provides practical advice and guidance on topics as diverse as consent, body confidence and sexuality for secondary school-aged girls. Row understands what girls of today are facing and aims to arm them with self-confidence, digital smarts and self-respect. For Foxes’ Sake is available at, Amazon and Booktopia.