Body piercing craze 'threatens children'

MINISTERS ARE being urged to introduce guidelines to prevent children having their bodies pierced without their parents' consent.

David Clark, Labour MP for South Shields, has tabled parliamentary questions calling for legislation after learning that a 13-year-old daughter of a constituent had been body pierced.

The insertion of studs, rings and chains through various parts of the body was once the preserve of punks. But these days body piercings are in high demand, particularly among 17- to 24-year-olds.

Mr Clark is concerned about the danger of infection. "What adults do to their own bodies is up to them. But there should be reasonable protection to ensure this does not happen to minors," he said.

Body piercing began centuries ago in the Orient, but the recent body- art phenomenon has been called both "New Age tribalism" and "perversion chic".

The model Stella Tennant helped to elevate piercings to their now fashionable status by appearing on catwalks with rings in her navel, chin, nose, ears and eyebrows.

Last week two debutantes appeared at the Berkeley Ball in London with pierced navels and lips, and Zara Phillips, the daughter of the Princess Royal, has had a metal stud put through her tongue.

Ms Phillips was not, however, the first royal to indulge in piercing. Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria, is said to have inserted a ring through the end of his penis and attached a weighted chain to keep it still while out riding. The custom has been dubbed a "Prince Albert" ever since.