Claire’s is vowing to clarify its policies on piercing after a former employee claims she was told to pierce children’s ears at the request of their parents, even if the children themselves did not wish to be pierced, and were resisting or needed to be restrained.
In an open letter posted to Facebook on Sunday, Raylene Marks said she left her position at Claire’s after experiencing an incident at a location in Canada last week, during which a 7-year-old girl allegedly stated that she did not want her ears pierced – and did not want anyone touching her – even though the girl’s mother was “putting pressure” on her daughter to get both of her ears pierced at the same time.
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“The girl pleaded and sobbed for thirty minutes not to be pierced. Despite Mom saying, ‘Honey, we can go home whenever you want,’ she was not letting her daughter go home,” Marks wrote in her lengthy open letter to Claire’s.
After the girl “begged, over and over again, for Mom to please, just take her home,” Marks said the girl’s mother ultimately relented and left the shop.
Marks’ manager, asking about the incident the following day, allegedly confirmed that Marks was to follow through with a piercing even if the child asks her not to, or is crying, or needs to be physically restrained by a guardian. Marks says she gave her notice that day.
According to Marks, the company’s policies are not clearly outlined and do not specify what to do in such situations other than saying, “We reserve the right to refuse an ear piercing if a successful one cannot be done.”
“If you are a company that cares about kids, I implore you to consider changing this policy that blatantly ignores every child who vocally protests, cries, shows obvious signs of distress or is physically restrained by their alleged guardian while they sob and beg to be released,” Marks wrote, imploring the company to revise any policies that her manager may have been operating under.
“Our children deserve better. Please do better by them,” she concluded.
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A representative for Claire’s was not immediately available to confirm the company’s current policy regarding ear-piercings and children. However, a representative told People that the company believed Marks “acted appropriately” and clarified that the stores’ policies are to refuse a piercing if the child does not want it.
“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 rep told People. The rep also clarified the store’s official policy on such matters, and will be reviewing Marks’ specific store, as well as the official wording of the manual to make sure the policy’s “intent is clear.”
“The policy is in place to ensure that if a child is distressed or resisting, Claire’s employees have the right to refuse to continue the piercing,” the rep confirmed to People.
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Marks, too, said Claire’s had “reached out to me and expressed intentions to revise the policy” after she published her post. In a follow-up, Marks said a representative confirmed she was correct in her feelings on piercing non-consenting kids, and said the language of the policy could be changed.
“I was told the policy might be changed to reflect a right to refuse a piercing if the child is ‘distressed or resisting.’ I encouraged the representative to include language that allows the employee to refuse a piercing for a child who simply says, ‘No, I don’t want my ears pierced.’ I don’t think it should have to get to the point where a child is emotionally distressed or physically resistant for their wishes to be respected,” she wrote.
Marks said Claire’s has yet to contact her further. She also claimed she has since been contacted by numerous former Claire’s employees who shared stories of working under “similar circumstances,” as well as some who said their stores would always refuse to pierce a non-consenting child.
Marks did not say if she will be returning to work, or was offered the opportunity to do so.