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QUESTION: Why would a 12 year old girl allow her step father to put several permanent tattoos on her body, because her mother give gave verbal permission?  Why would a mother give her 12 year old daughter permission to get several permanent tattoos on her body?

ANSWER: It seems that tattoos are all the fad these days aren't they? Personally, I would not consider this to be a very good thing for any 12 year old unless they are living somewhere that this would be considered part of their culture and I am not talking about the current trend but ancestral practices that have gone on for generations.  I cannot personally respect any parent that would allow this but that is just my bias.  If it is not against a law, I suppose that it can be done, morally right or wrong.

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QUESTION: What would a school teacher do in the United State if she sees this child? She knows that she got those tattoos in Mexico and the police have noting that they can hold the step father on because he has broken no laws in the United States? Her step father has no criminal record. The same 12 year old girl is also the best behaved child in the entire school and never gets in trouble.

ANSWER: If anyone in the United States has a suspicion that a child is abused or neglected, they have an obligation to report this and at least bring this to the attention of the agency that is charged with investigating these matters. They can either investigate or not based on what is being reported.

I have heard so many children described as "the best behaved" so many times when the reality is that one really does not have a clue whether she gets in trouble or not, parents just do not hear about it or they do not get caught.  

My parents were from Mexico and I live 40 miles North of Juarez, Mexico so I know that this is not an accepted cultural practice for Mexicans but more so for the gang element that thrives there due to the hunger for drugs in the United States.  

Sometimes, school teachers are afraid to report things as it is so easy to be targeted with retaliation even if they make the report anonymously. Especially true of the children of known gang members.

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QUESTION: What would the same school teacher do? She reported this to the authorities in the United States, and they can not take the child away from her mother, because her mother has broken no laws in the United States. Her mother has no criminal record. The same goes for the step father. The people are not from Mexico but took the child to Mexico to get tattoos because this is illegal in California, but is legal in Mexico.

Answer
Not much.  All child abuse investigations, like any other criminal investigation, relies on evidence in order to apply applicable laws.  In New Mexico, the standard of evidence is "proof beyond a reasonable doubt" the same standard used to prove any felony, even murder, and this was for civil cases that call for a child to be removed from the parent.  It is a very difficult standard to find enough evidence for.  These parents really need some serious parenting training.  They go to the expense to go to Mexico to get their daughter tattoo's to get around American laws which tells me that they don't respect laws and look for ways to get around them. Must be difficult for you to work with people that do not seem to have any business being parents.  I have seen for too many like this. Some shape up but most lost custody of their children, and I made so many efforts to try to find them help to address their problems.  I still hear from some of their children who managed to do better in their lives.  Still there were many that did not. It's a sad and sick world out there.

Take care,

Marcos

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Marcos Torres

Expertise

I can answer many questions regarding child development, best practices in child care and the fathers role in his children's development.

Experience

10 years as a child protective services investigator, 10 years administrator of a residential nonprofit program for developmentally disabled adults and children, 2 years working with parents facilitating a parenting group of first time parents with my wife using the MELD curriculum in the early 80's. Co-wrote and Administered a fatherhood grant working with young fathers and incarcerated fathers. Ran a fatherhood program in a Texas State jail and was Director of Incarcerated Programs for the National Fatherhood Initiative for a year and a half. I also raised two children now 22 and 26 who have excelled academically which I believe is from our learning the best practices in child rearing from the start.

Education/Credentials
BA in Social work in 1980 from New Mexico State University

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