Intimate piercing of under 18s

13 February 2018

Article: 52/605

Wales has become the first country in the UK to introduce a nationwide ban on the intimate piercing of under 18s.

The new law, which came into force on 1 February 2018, makes it an offence for piercing practitioners to arrange and carry out an intimate piercing on those under 18. The aim of the new law is to protect children and young people from the potential health harms which can be caused by an intimate piercing. 

The change will come under the Public Health (Wales) Act 2017, prohibiting the intimate piercing of persons under the age of 18 in Wales. It will also be an offence to ‘make arrangements’ to perform an intimate piercing on a child or young person under the age of 18 in Wales.

The intimate piercing of children and young people under 18 could also be considered a child protection issue. By undergoing an intimate piercing procedure, young people under the age of 18 may be placed in a vulnerable position.

A study in England found that amongst individuals aged 16-24 complications were reported with around a third of all body piercings. The same study found a higher incidence of complications in connection with certain types of body piercings, including intimate piercings. Problems were most likely to be reported in the case of tongue piercing (50%), followed by piercings of the genitals (45%) and the nipples (38%).

As young people continue to grow during their teenage years, an intimate piercing performed at a young age could result in further complications arising as their bodies develop. Young people may also be less likely to have the experience or knowledge of how to clean or maintain an intimate piercing, leading to an increased risk of infection.

Source: Welsh Government News Release, 1 February 2018