A former Claire's employee got the store to review 'cruel' policy for piercing kids' ears

Edmonton's Raylene Marks quit her job after refusing to pierce the ears of a child who'd been protesting the procedure for 30 minutes, sharing her story in an open letter. Now, Claire's is reviewing their policy.

Photo: iStockphoto

The thought of a shiny new bauble is appealing to lots of kids, but that can quickly turn to fear when a stranger comes at them with a piercing gun. So, while junior may have been begging to get her ears pierced for months, what happens if she changes her mind at the last minute?

You just don’t pierce their ears, says former Claire’s employee Raylene Marks of Edmonton, whose open letter on the store’s “cruel” ear-piercing practice recently went viral on Facebook, racking up more than 800 comments and 1,800 shares.

Currently, Claire’s store policy 509 requires employees to follow through with a piercing regardless of whether the kid is on-board. But Marks’s letter stressed that if a child decides they no longer want their ears pierced, they shouldn’t be forced by an employee, parent or store policy.

In the letter, Marks explained that while she is okay with piercing a kid’s ears if they are afraid but excited, when it’s clear that they no longer consent to the piercing, it’s time to draw the line.

a baby with pierced ears The debate: Would you pierce your baby's ears?“Sometimes it does take 15 minutes to try to explain the procedure to a child, to get them to pick their earrings, and to calm them down,” the 32-year-old told HuffPost Canada.

As to the incident that ultimately caused her to resign, Marks described a seven-year-old girl begging her mother not to have her ears pierced.

“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,” Marks explained.

Marks and a coworker were positioned on either side of the young girl, each ready to pierce an ear simultaneously. At this point, after the girl protested for 30 minutes, Marks decided she was not going to take part in the procedure.

“I’m inclined to respect a child’s right to say, ‘NO,’ to any adult forcing any kind of non-medical contact on them,” she wrote.

Parent may feel pressured for their kids to follow through because once the packaging is open, they are required to pay for the earrings. Studs at the accessories chain start at $35.50 but can cost as much as $232.

The little girl and her mother left the store without going through with the piercings, but Marks’ refusal to follow through left her answering to her manager.

“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,” Marks recounted.

Hearing this, she quit her job on the spot.

Claire’s has since reached out to Marks stating they are looking into changing their policy but did not specify when or what the new policy would look like. While Marks is grateful to all who’ve read and shared her letter, and is hopeful that a public statement will be made if and when Claire’s does revise their policy, it still begs the question, should store policy trump a child’s right to consent?

Read more:
An age-by-age guide to kids’ phobias

9 ways to raise strong girls

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