New guidelines for teens and increasingly popular body art

The American Academy of Pediatrics says more than half of all young people are interested in tattoos

tattoo generic

CANFIELD, Ohio (WKBN) – Nearly 40 percent of people under the age of 30 have at least one tattoo and half of all teens have at least one piercing. That’s led the American Academy of Pediatrics to issue new guidelines to doctors on how to treat their patients when body art goes wrong.

AAP guidelines for teens and tattoos, piercings, and body modifications

In Ohio, those guidelines won’t change very much. Anyone under the age of 18 already needs a parent’s permission to get a tattoo or piercing.

Body art is extremely popular amongst teens and young people. The American Academy of Pediatrics says more than half of all young people are interested in tattoos.

The study says many teens get their first tattoo around 9th grade and that girls are more likely to get tattoos and piercings than boys.

Julianna Titi, a YSU student from Canfield, said she wanted pierced ears from the time she was 8 years old but waited until she was 15.

“I just wanted to make sure that I was really prepared to take care of them because I knew it was going to be hard,” she said. “I didn’t want it to get infected or some type of problem with it and I knew it was going to be a difficult thing to take care of as a 10-year-old.”

Titi said she’s glad she waited because her piercings are permanent.

“As teens, I don’t think that we really consider that. I think we consider it as a ‘it’s now in the moment, oh we think this looks cool’ kind of thing. We don’t really think of what’s it going to look like when I’m 40 years old or what it’s going to look like when I am trying to get a job.”

As a parent, if you decide to let your child get a tattoo, there are some guidelines you may want to take into consideration.

“It’s not like it was 20 years ago. It’s a lot more socially acceptable. Moms and daughters are coming and getting matching tattoos for graduations and that’s why the American Academy of Pediatrics decided to come out with its own policy on that,” said Canfield pediatrician Dr. John Cox.

Both Dr. Cox and the Academy say people’s shots should be up to date before going under the tattoo gun or piercing needle.

“You want to make sure your tetanus is up to date and that is big, really, for the teens who are thinking about it as long as their tetanus shot is up to date,” Cox said. “For the kids who are complaining about getting a shot, if you are going to get a tattoo or body piercing, a shot is a little bit easier to get as well.”

Parents should look for cleanliness, too, to prevent infection.

“If it’s a tattoo place, the needles are in individually-wrapped packages. The person giving you the tattoo is wearing gloves,” Cox said. “The same thing with the ear piercing places. Make sure they are clean.”

He said teens should carefully consider where on the body they get their tattoos.

“Tattoos on your face or neck. If you want to not work someday in your life, that’s a great thing to do. Get a tattoo on your face.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics report also tells doctors that some body modifications can be linked with high-risk behavior.


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