First learn about the possible consequences of permanent body art. Examine the social issues ranging from family dynamics, marriage, and aging. Look at your teen’s career options and seriously consider what employment choices they could lose.
From the health perspective, review their risk for infectious diseases, possible auto-immune diseases or toxicities triggered by any ink absorbed into the body, and the sun’s potential interaction with the tattoo increasing their risk for skin cancer.
Consider agreeing to and signing a Teen-Parent Body Art Contract. This mutual ‘promise’ to each other essentially commits that before your teens gets permanent body art, you get a chance to talk about the possible ramifications. The contract doesn’t ban body art, it merely establishes an agreement to discuss the topic so that all of the options can be reviewed. One sample tattoo contract can be found at shoulditattoo.com.
As the number of people getting tattoos and piercings rise, so will the research into the short and long term effects of these practices. Much has been learned over the last few years, but there are still too many questions left.
Only time will reveal the answers, but like other common social habits (smoking for example), as time and experiences pass, the true dangers of the indulgence will eventually see the clarity of day.
The moral of this story is to talk with your teens about tattoos or piercing, and its impact on their health, future careers, family, and self-esteem. Insist that they put a lot of research, reflection, and discussion into the decision. And encourage schools and school systems to begin to address these dangers so that as a community, we can better protect our children from a poorly thought-through decision that they have to look at for the rest of their life.
Believe it or not there is still much more to tell. Order “Teens, Tattoos, & Piercings: The health and social impact of permanent body art” by Dr. Greg Hall. The book is full color, has over one hundred photos, and is written at the 7th grade level.
Educate teens about permanent body art, not so that they won’t do it, but so that they will put the proper research and reflection into the decision.