A father's plea has lead to legislative action to ban human branding.
State Rep. Keith Gillespie, R-Springettsbury Township, is sponsoring legislation which would prohibit human branding procedures on anyone under the age of 18.
The his legislation, known as House Bill 2673, would amend the Pennsylvania Crimes Code regarding tattooing and body piercing of minors without their parents' consent.
Human branding would be added to the code, Gillespie said. The bill currently has 24 co-sponsors.
"The legislation comes out of a case that was referred to my office," Gillespie said. "Anyone who has had this done to them is essentially physically marked for life, in addition to having had to undergo what I can only imagine to be a very painful experience."
Gillespie said he started working on the bill about two months ago after a conversation with a father of a 14-year-old boy who branded himself twice on the torso with a red-hot three-inch nail under the instructions of an 18-year-old man during a sleepover.
The 14-year-old's parents discovered the branding several days later. The branding left third-degree burns on the boy, Gillespie said.
The father talked to Gillespie after researching Pennsylvania law about the issue and learning that there is no statute that prevents branding of people under age 18 without parental consent.
Gillespie said he was shocked to learn about the 14-year-old's branding incident.
"The act of branding leaves the victim with, at the very least, a third-degree burn," he said. "This is a dangerous practice that needs to be outlawed."
Similar to the crimes code regulations for tattooing and body piercing, Gillespie's bill grades the offense as a third-degree misdemeanor for the first offense, and a second-degree misdemeanor for illegal human branding committed within a year of the prior offense.
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