05/01/2010 13:37 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Parents Give Children 'Homemade Tattoos'

Patty 'Jo Jo' Marsh and Jacob Edward Bartels of Georgia, US, have been charged with child cruelty after they gave six of their children DIY tattoos.

The homemade machine they used was made from a plastic pen and a guitar string.

All but the youngest child was given a black cross between the thumb and forefinger. One child was also marked with the words 'Mama & Dad'.

The matter was reported to the police when the biological mother of two of the children found that the ink marks could not be wiped off.

The couple remained defiant saying that the children had wanted to have tattoos like their parents. "They weren't hurt by them," said Ms. Marsh. "We would never do anything to hurt them."

It is believed that the same needle was used on the children who were aged between 10 and 17 years old.

The tattooing of minors and unlicensed tattooing are both illegal in the state of Georgia.

Chattooga County Sheriff John Everett said "We've never seen anything, or heard of anything like this, in the surrounding counties, or anywhere."

Ms Marsh claims she was unaware she was breaking the law and defended her actions saying, "I'm their mother. Shouldn't I be able to decide if they get one?,"

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

The couple feel they are being vilified in the press and branded as child abusers.

"If I'm such a bad parent'" commented Ms Marsh, "then how come they brought the kids back right after I got out jail?"

Stupid and misguided; certainly. Tacky and tasteless; definitely. But is this child abuse?