While getting earrings for the first time may be an exciting process for some, there are plenty of children who do not like the idea of having their ears pierced at all.
Raylene Marks from Alberta, a former employee of Claire’s, was disgusted by the store’s policy regarding piercing children.
After she discovered that the policy does not respect a child’s wish to refuse a piercing, she immediately quit her job.
Soon after, she wrote an open letter that went viral.
She openly states that the current Claire’s policy is extremely questionable, to say the least, and hopes that her words can change the policy in every Claire’s store.
Raylene says that she has performed so-called ‘grey-area’ piercings before on children, which occurs when the parents insist on going through with the ear piercing, but the child is clearly against it. They’re often pressured and/or intimidated by the parents to go through with it, even if that’s clearly a violation of the child’s own personal boundaries.
“I didn’t mind piercing the ears of children who were excited to get new earrings, but nervous about the procedure. I’d do what I could to put them at ease. I had a couple “gray area” piercings, though; piercings where the children resisted heavily, were pressured and intimidated by the parents into settling down, and the children weren’t happy with what had happened even after the earrings were in place and the standard lollipop had been dispensed. I didn’t feel good about those, and I started to wonder at what point the piercer and the parent are actually violating a child’s personal boundaries,” she writes.
When a mom pressured her seven-year-old to get a piercing, Raylene had reached her breaking point.
Because the mom suspected that her daughter wouldn’t want to pierce her second ear after the first one, two store assistants were needed for a ‘double’ piercing, both ears at the same time.
The little girl cried for thirty minutes, asking and practically begging not to get an ear piercing. Her mom promised her that they’d go home, but she put a huge amount of pressure on her own daughter to get pierced.
“This child was articulate, smart, and well aware of herself and her body. She expressed that she didn’t want us touching her, that we were standing too close, that she was feeling uncomfortable. She made it clear she no longer wanted to get her ears pierced. She begged, over and over again, for Mom to please, just take her home.”
The little girl’s message couldn’t be any clearer – ‘no’ is ‘no’.
Raylene then simply told the other store assistant that she was not going to be a part of the piercing process. After a while, the mom finally went home with her daughter without getting her ears pierced.
The day after, Raylene was reprimanded by the store manager.
He explained to her that she didn’t have a choice or a saying in the matter – if the parents want their child to get a piercing, employees have to help.
In other words, she would have no choice at all, how unethical that may be. The manager told her store employees always have to pierce, even in the most extreme circumstances. The policy also doesn’t mention anything about physical restraint by parents or even employees.
“So if a mother is physically restraining her daughter, holding her down and saying, ‘DO IT,’ while that little girl cries and asks me not to, do I do the piercing?” My manager did not hesitate to respond, “Yes, you do the piercing.”
That very day, she handed in her resignation.
“Children can be held down and pierced. Children do not have a voice in the piercing process. The associate doing the piercing has no right to refuse to shoot metal through the ears of a child who begs not to be touched.”
Policy 509 of the franchise does mention that they reserve the right to refuse an ear piercing ‘if a successful one cannot be done’. As you can see, that policy can be interpreted in many ways and employees often don’t (have to) respect the children’s wishes.
Claire’s has not responded to the policy, not in public, not to Raylene and not to the press.
“I believe in upholding a child’s right to bodily integrity at all costs, and I will not be an adult that commits an indignity to a child. (…) This is about a child’s right to refuse to be pierced. This is also about an employee’s right to refuse to pierce the child that refuses to be pierced.”
The former store employee now hopes that policy will change and wants people to make their voice heard. With her post going viral – she has already made one huge step in the right direction.
“So I implore you now, as does everyone who shares this letter–Be better. Be accountable. Know what’s going on in your stores, and do something about it. And until you do, myself and perhaps many others have no interest in shopping at Claire’s and helping fund what we believe to be a cruel practice. Our children deserve better. Please do better by them.”
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