Sweet 16

I am 16 years old and my boyfriend wants to buy me a tattoo for Christmas.  I really want to get one on my lower back but I know my parents will go ballistic if they hear this!!  Am I legally entitled to get one or do I need my parent’s permission?
If the answer is No –the Law is an Ass and I want to know what else I can and can’t do at my age?
Yours Sincerely,
A very frustrated teenager.
Answer: Unfortunately it is illegal for you to get a Tattoo under the age 18, even with your parents consent.
In Ireland under the Child Care Act 1991, the Children Act 2001 and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child a child is defined as anyone under the age of 18, however once you reach the age of 16 there are certain things you can do and can’t do.
At 16 you CAN…

  • get a part-time or full-time job – the minimum age of full employment for a young person is 16 years old (Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Act 1996).  An employee under age 18 is entitled to €6.06 per hour or 70% of the minimum wage. An employer can pay more. (This may change with the introduction of the new Finance Bill).  
  • buy a pet – there is no law as to whether a child can have a pet or not, provided the person selling the pet believes you are capable of looking after it.  However under the Control of Dogs Act 1986, you must be 16 to hold a Dog License which is required if your pet is a Dog.
  • receive contraceptive advice and supplies – in certain circumstances the doctor will provide contraceptive advice and supplies to under 16’s if they have a general understanding without their parents/guardians consent.
  • get a Moped//Tractor licence at the age of 16.
  • get married – In theory it is possible to marry under 18 if a court exemption is sought and 3 months notice is given to the state.
  • leave School – under the present law a young person is required to attend school until they are 16 years of age.
  • get a Passport in your own name – If your parents give consent you can have your own individual passport at any age. Once you reach the age of 18 you can apply for your own passport without parental consent.
  • consent or refuse to have surgical or dental treatment – once you have reached the age of 16.
  • choose and register with your own GP and see your own medical records –once you have reached the age of 16.
  • babysit – 16 is the legal age for babysitting.  The parents of the children are ultimately responsible where an under 16 year old is left to babysit.
  • be held Criminally Responsible – the age of criminal responsibility is 12 (Criminal Justice Act 2006). This means that a child under that age is legally incapable of being charged with an offence. There is an exception, however, for children aged 10 or 11 who can be charged with murder, manslaughter, rape or aggravated sexual assault.  where a child under 14 years of age is charged with an offence, no further proceedings can be taken without the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
  • leave home at 16 with parental consent
  • travel unaccompanied at aged 16, however you cannot book a holiday or a flight until you are 18 years of age.
  • change your surname by deed poll or common usage with your parent’s consent once you reach the age of 16.

At 16 you CAN’T…

  • serve on a Jury or vote in Elections – a person may be called upon to serve on a jury in a court of law from the age of 18. Members of a jury are citizens who are on the electoral register.
  • buy Alcohol – It is illegal for anyone under 18 years of age to buy alcohol and for a publican or retailer to supply alcohol to anyone under 18. (Intoxicating Liquor Acts).
  • work in a pub –until you reach the age of 18 years or older unless related to owners or apprenticed.
  • smoke – it is illegal for persons under 18 years to smoke or to purchase cigarettes in a shop. If caught, the shop involved can face a hefty fine. (Under the Public Health (Tobacco) Act 2002).
  • open a Bank Account in your own name – no matter how much money you have in the bank, you cannot open a current account until you are 18 years old.
  • have sexual intercourse at age 16 – Under Section 3 of the Criminal Law (Sex Offences) Act 2006 as amended by Section 5 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) (Amendment) Act 2007 it is a criminal offence to engage or attempt to engage in a sexual act with a child under 17 years of age. It is not a defence to show that the child consented to the sexual act.
  • make a Will – until you are 18 or under 18 if you’re married when you may make a will appointing a guardian for your children.
  • get a Car / Motorcycle licence – At 17 you can get a provisional licence and at 18 you can get a full licence. Motorcycles which are over 125cc: 18 years old and motorcycles which are under 125cc: 16 years old.
  • place a Bet – you must be 18 to place a bet. A child cannot enter a betting shop unless accompanied by an adult.
  • buy a lottery ticket – you must be 18 to buy a lottery ticket.
  • rent your own place –18 is the legal age to hold a tenancy (that means you are the person who legally rents the place).
  • be sent to prison – You can be sent to prison at 21. Anyone between the age of 12 and 20 years old and convicted of a crime may be sent to a reformatory centre or institution.
  • claim an unemployment payment – such as Jobseeker’s Benefit or Jobseeker’s Allowance, until age 18, although you start paying social insurance contributions from 16 years of age.
  • you cannot become a blood donor – until you are aged 18.