A Winnipeg mom is upset that her 16-year-old daughter was able to get a belly-button piercing at the Red River Ex without signed parental consent.

Belly piercing

Cheryl Radcliffe is upset her underage daughter was allowed to get a belly-button piercing at the Red River Ex. (Courtesy Cheryl Radcliffe)

Cheryl Radcliffe's daughter went to the Phase II Tattoo and Body Piercing mobile booth on June 17 and despite being underage and not having a legal guardian present — as outlined in the city's body modification bylaws — she was able to get pierced.

Radcliffe said the person at the booth told her daughter to just find someone who was 18 and have them sign the consent form.

Her daughter found an 18-year-old friend who was working at the fair and had them sign it.

Despite the rules, no one asked for documentation about how the 18 year old knew the girl.

Phase II even had the following notice posted at its mobile booth, with an emphasis on the age and guardian requirements:

“You MUST be 18 years or older and have valid photo ID to receive a tattoo or piercing. Anyone under the age of 18 MUST have a parent or legal guardian present, both minor and adult must have photo IDs and legal documentation proving your relation or proof of guardianship (birth certificate with parent and minors name, Manitoba health cards, court documents, etc.)”

As well, the only after-care instructions were to use salt water to clean the piercing site, Radcliffe said.

"We wanted to know how and why she was able to get this body piercing at the Ex without us being present,” said the teen’s step-father, Dean Jeanson.

While the city maintains the bylaw, with a lengthy description of after-care instructions, it is actually provincial inspectors who enforce those rules.

“We look at risk that may be involved and ensure proper consent if a person is under the age of 18,” said Peter Parys, who oversees provincial public health inspectors.

Parys said Manitoba Health is now looking into the case.

Radcliffe wonders how many underage kids had piercings or tattoos at the site.

"God knows how many kids went to the Ex and got tattoos or piercings and are possibly are infected right now and they're scared about talking to their parents, you know, or [asking] someone does this look right?" she said, noting her daughter has fortunately not had any troubles with the piercing

A spokesperson from Phase II declined to do an interview, but they did provide the following statement.

Phase II Tattoo and Body Piercing who has been in operation for twelve years, would like to clarify that all procedures are done according to Winnipeg City Bylaws, and all artists ensure that every procedure performed is done properly and the staff thoroughly provides after-care instructions, as well as an aftercare sheet, and the option to purchase additional aftercare product.

The young lady who approached our business at the Red River Exhibition ensured us that her mother had given her consent, and that the legal adult she was with claimed to be currently responsible for her well-being for the entire day in the absence of her parents. The young man stated he was given permission by the parents to provide identification at this time and sign our documentation of consent with photo ID. Phase II will not be held liable or accountable for the fraudulence committed by either of the patrons involved.

"They're passing the buck, stating that they were on legal grounds and it was completely acceptable and if we have any issues that we should be taking this 18-year-old boy to court," Radcliffe said about Phase II.

Garth Rogerson, CEO of the Red River Exhibition Association, called Phase II a very reputable business and said the booth was inspected and OK’d by the health inspector and City of Winnipeg licensing department.

He didn’t want to comment further on the incident.

“Since they are a licensed establishment, we think it is best to allow the city to investigate,” Rogerson said.

“If it turns out that something inappropriate happened, that will play a part in our decision moving forward.” 

As for the teen, her parents said they aren't upset with her, but they're still discussing if she will be allowed to keep the piercing.