That red hot tattoo is not really so cool after all

Growing Pains

School kids flaunting macabre tattoos on the body may have become a common sight these days but it is certainly not impressing parents.

A city-based parents’ association has now approached the Women and Child Development Ministry to frame laws to ban minors from getting tattooed. Citing several health and psycho-social problems that arise from permanent tattoos, the group, Delhi School Parents Association has urged that no tattoo parlour should serve an under-18-year old without the explicit permission from a parent.

Several countries in the West have such laws regarding minors getting inked. In UK, it’s a legal offence to get a tattoo before 18. 

In France, the minimum age required for the same is 16. Several States in US completely bar minors from getting body art done while others require parental approval in writing. The petitioners now want India to look into the same.

“Below 18, it is too early for a child to understand the repercussions of a permanent tattoo. With the procedure using needles, you may get different infections. It is nearly impossible to remove if you want it erased later on. You cannot donate blood all your life and in some professions, tattoos are looked at unfavourably and you may be disqualified at the very first meeting,” expressed a worried member of the association.

Doctors confirm the fear and support the demand. 

Dr Nipun Jain, senior consultant, Dermatology, Sri Balaji Action Medical Institute, says, “There are so many tattoo parlours that neither have the requisite licence nor do they follow safety guidelines. All sorts of chemical dyes are used to get the right colour effect and we get cases of ‘contact dermatitis’ and allergic reactions to tattoo dyes every few days.”

Dr Lipy Gupta, dermatologist, Saket City hospital, says, “The biggest problem occurs when you want to get it removed. You can spend lakhs on different procedures but it never goes away completely. Through some treatments, it fades slightly but leaves a scar.”

An even more dangerous prospect is that of contracting Hepatitis B, C and HIV/AIDS through tattooing. 

Dr Sanjay Negi, director, Liver Transplantation, says, “In body art, largely shared needles are used. If it has been used on a person suffering from a blood-borne infection and then not sterilised, there is every chance that it will be transmitted to the next person. It is very important to insist on usage of fresh needles.”

Dr Sameer Malhotra, director, Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences, Max Hospital, emphasises on the psycho-social aspects of tattooing, “It is very important to understand why a child wants to get a tattoo. Is she trying to make a statement to her family or project a certain image to her friends? I have come across children with mood disorders and personality issues who are obsessed with tattoos and body piercings.”

That is not to say, however, that every child who fancies a tattoo is suffering from a behavioural problem, he adds, “But, as the parents are claiming, tattooing has various repercussions and is not for minors. The Government can look into this matter and frame suitable rules.”

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