Black Teens, Tattoos & Piercings

A woman with a tattooIf 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 African American teens across the country. Many don’t know that body art also comes with the increased risk for infections, unemployment, self-deprecation, and more.

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A recent study by the Harris Polls found that 22% of African Americans age 18 to 24 have a tattoo, and that number grows to 30% by the time they turn 29. High school 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 the number is higher in urban, predominantly African American, schools. 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 teen dives into that form of self expression is an essential part of parenting.

Piercings are also growing in popularity with a large number of teens having additional ear, nose, lip, nipple, and navel piercings. They are also piercing other unconventional locations like their cheek, forehead, arms, and more. What many amateur teen piercers lack is the adequate education regarding human anatomy, healing, and infection control. The human body does not readily allow jewelry under the skin, and depending on the location, will actively try to reject the metal. This means a much longer healing time (sometimes a year or more), chronic irritation or itching, scarring, or even a life threatening infection.