Page last updated at 23:36 GMT, Monday, 4 January 2010

US couple 'tattooed their children with guitar string'

Tattoo (generic)
Tattooing children under 18 is a crime under Georgia state law

A man and woman in the US state of Georgia are facing child cruelty charges after using a homemade device to tattoo six of their children.

Patty "Jo Jo" Marsh and Jacob Edward Bartels allegedly used a plastic pen fitted with a piece of guitar string to mark the children, aged 10 to 17.

Unlicensed tattooists and the tattooing of minors are illegal in Georgia.

Ms Marsh told local media she had not done anything wrong and that the children had asked for the tattoos.

"I'm not breaking the skin. It's going to fade away, it's like a pen mark," she told reporters.

The children were marked with small black crosses on the skin between their thumb and index finger. One was also tattooed with the words "Mama & Dad".

Chattooga County Sheriff John Everett said the couple had been reported by the biological mother of some of the children, who noticed the ink marks could not be wiped off.

"We've never seen anything, or heard of anything like this, in the surrounding counties, or anywhere," he told the WHEC news website, adding that police believe the same improvised needle was used for all the children.

Mr Bartels and Ms Marsh were released on bail by police, but Ms Marsh said she could not understand the public's reaction.

"I love my children, we'd never do anything to harm our kids," WHEC quoted her as saying.

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