If you have teens, odds are they’re thinking about getting a tattoo, piercing, or some other permanent body art.

Just like relationships, jobs, and college; tattoos and piercings have become a modern rite of passage for teens across the country. Many don’t know that their body art also comes with the increased risk for infections, cancer, unemployment, self-deprecation, and much more.

In 2012, a study done by the Harris Polls found that 22% of people age 18 to 24 have a tattoo, and that number grows to 30%  by the time they turn 29.  High schools teachers and nurses are noticing a growing number of tattoos and piercings on progressively younger students with many suggesting that 20% of existing students already have tattoos, and that number is higher in urban schools.

Teens Wanting Tattoos and Piercings

Many teens, and some parents, fail to fully appreciate the health and social consequences of tattoos and piercings, and most deny having had a meaningful conversation with their teens about the topic.

Taking the time to discuss the possible consequences of tattoos and piercings before your child dives into that form of self expression is essential.

The tattoo craze in high schools has grown with each passing year. At first, the seniors were getting tattoos as graduation gifts when they turned 18, and as peer pressure flowed through the halls of secondary schools, 17 year old students, and then 16 year old students began to adopt the tattoo bug.

Piercings are also growing in popularity with a staggering number of teens having additional ear, nose, lip, nipple, and navel piercings.

Unfortunately,  an ‘enterprising’ student can go on-line and buy a piercing needle, and start working on their friend’s various piercing requests. All they need is a strong stomach, and a willing victim, and before long the piercers become local quasi-celebrities who will progressively pierce (frequently with the same needle) more and more customers.

What these piercers lack is the adequate education regarding human anatomy, healing, and infection control.

If teens make it out of high school without ‘getting inked’ or pierced, body art is still one of the first things many college freshman pursue as a sign of independent adulthood. For those that don’t go to college, the summer tattoo party season begins, and more tattoos and piercings arise on the bodies of teens who have yet to consider their employment options, and how an obvious tattoo or piercing may keep them from getting a job.

Employment Barriers

Teens Wanting Tattoos and PiercingsThe business world has lagged significantly in their acceptance of permanent body art, especially as it pertains to obvious tattoos and piercings (those on the hands, face and neck). Many companies, including the United States military, the United Parcel Service, and others, ban obvious tattoos, and non-conventional piercings.

Teens mistakenly believe that ‘the law’ prohibits employers from discriminating against them based on their personal preferences like tattoos and piercings. They don’t understand that laws prohibit employers from discriminating based on race, sex, age, and handicap, but they are allowed to ban obvious tattoos, multiple piercings, and any other visually non-conforming body art. . . including hair length, elaborate beards and mustaches, and so on.

This ‘discrimination’, in one employer’s view, is part of “their prerogative to exercise a personal preference to NOT have customers distracted by body art”.

Military recruiters turn down one applicant after another who have obvious tattoos on their hands, neck and face as well as objectionable tattoos anywhere else on their body. . . obvious or not. The military, as well as many other security-related government agencies do not allow racist, sexist, or gang-related tattoos anywhere on your body, covered or not.

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