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Claire's employee alleges pressure to pierce children without consent

Frontage of the Claire's Accessories store. On Listergate, Nottingham, England. On 22nd October 2016 Image copyright Alamy

Piercing boutique Claire's says it is reviewing its consent policy after an employee said she was told to pierce children's ears without their consent.

Canadian Raylene Marks says her manager told her she should have pierced a seven-year-old's ears even though the girl, who was with her mother, clearly did not want her ears pierced.

The girl eventually left without getting pierced.

However Ms Marks says she quit over her manager's response.

"The girl pleaded and sobbed for 30 minutes not to be pierced. Despite Mom saying, 'Honey, we can go home whenever you want' she was not letting her daughter go home," Ms Marks said in an open letter to the company posted on Facebook.

"I'm inclined to respect a child's right to say, 'NO', to any adult forcing any kind of non-medical contact on them, so I told the other piercer I wouldn't be part of the ear piercing for this girl."

The girl left the store in Edmonton, Alberta without having her ears pierced.

When Ms Marks' manager asked her about the incident the following day, she told her manager that if the mother had insisted on staying, she would have refused to perform the procedure.

"You would have had no choice but to do it," she says her manager told her.

Claire's, which has boutiques across North America and in the UK, said in an email response that it was investigating the matter and "reviewing the policy to ensure that the intent is clear".

"Claire's has been piercing ears for more than 40 years, and has pierced over 100 million ears. Customer well-being is our main priority, and we ensure that any child piercing we do is carried out with the best care in consultation with, and with the agreement of the legal guardian," the spokesperson wrote.

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