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Entries in Body Suspension (1)

Friday
Oct142011

Bloody Body Suspensions Draw Outrage in Missouri Neighborhood

Polka Dot Images/Thinkstock (file photo)(SPRINGFIELD, Mo.) -- Shane Shields can't tell you exactly why, but he gets a rush out of being pierced through the skin with thick hooks and hanging by ropes in the air -- a fringe art known as body suspension.

The 29-year-old "body modification artist" runs a licensed tattoo facility as a day job, and on weekends, he joins other body suspension enthusiasts in a Springfield, Mo., backyard.

But one neighbor insists that Shields and his fellow body artists are traumatizing his children and has pledged to ban the practice so young onlookers don't have to hear the screams and see bodies drenched in blood.

Aaron King, whose North Main Avenue backyard overlooks the meetings, says that his children should not have to be unwittingly exposed to the practice.  He isn't opposed to others doing it -- he just thinks his two children should not have to witness it, especially his 9-year-old daughter.

"She saw blood dripping from a shoulder blade area and what she said looked like holes," King told ABC News affiliate KSPR-TV in Springfield.  "I don't know why their right to do this should extend to public open space and force me to keep my children inside."

The Springfield group, known as the Anti Gravity Relaxation Organization (AGRO), is one of four other clubs in other cities across the country.  AGRO has used two trees in a private yard to build a pulley system to hang practitioners upside down with hooks pierced through their knees.  Others zoom across a zip line with hooks under the skin between their shoulder blades.

In Missouri, there are no city or state laws against the practice.  King has contacted his city counselors and several state agencies with his complaint.  City council member Nick Ibarra said he agrees with King and told the Springfield News-Leader that he has asked the city's legal department to draft an ordinance that addresses body suspension.

Meanwhile, one child development expert said she stands firmly behind King.

"It's the equivalent of taking a kid to an R-rated movie because of the violence," said Dr. Ari Brown, an Austin, Texas pediatrician and author of several books on child behavior.  "But you don't have a choice when it's happening in your backyard."

Young children might experience nightmares or anxiety after witnessing body suspension, according to Brown.

"Kids have a little bit of trouble understanding this type of thing -- it's violent and painful and someone is going through something uncomfortable," she said.  "The visual leaves a lasting image in their memory and I don't blame the parent for being disturbed."

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