When I first read that a mother in Acworth, 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 Gaquan Napier's tattoo is actually in memory of the boy’s 12-year-old brother, Malik, who was hit and killed by a teenage driver.
That was a couple of years ago now, butGaquan was with his brother when he died and he recently told his mom, Chuntera Napier -- who has several tattoos of her own in her late son's memory -- that he wanted to get his own tattoo as a way of honouring his older brother.
“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 told local station WSBTV.
She claims she didn’t know it was illegal in Georgia for anyone under 18 to get a tattoo, even with a parent's permission. So she took her son to a tattoo artist who gave the boy a tattoo featuring Malik’s old jersey number. As Chuntera 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. As a result, Chuntera is now facing child cruelty charges and police are investigating the tattoo artist.
“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.
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.
Chuntera Napier is set to appear in court in March.