Teen attire nowadays is a far cry from when we were young.
What’s happening to a large portion our young people today?
It appears to me they are going over the edge. Piercing rings, tattoos, studs and freaky dress seem to be the order of the day for scores of teens. They start as young as Grade 7. These kids are just 13 and 14 and believe it or not, image and looking sexy seem to be a central focus for many of them. Those adults ahead of them who are leading the imaging fad no doubt have a big influence – adults like the guys I saw at the checkout in a Florida Wal-Mart, one wearing a tank shirt with a snake tattooed around his arm and up his chest to his neck while sporting several earrings in both ears. His buddy had purple hair, wore army fatigues with laced boots and had his forehead tattooed with all sorts of weird psychedelic designs.
A gentleman sitting nearby on a waiting bench noticing them remarked to me, “and to think one of those guys is a basketball coach in our local high school.”
When we were young, there is no way we would be permitted to dress with our pants hanging off our butt, and girls with studded and pierced-ringed belly buttons showing. No doubt you have noticed! Just go to the mall if you want real eye openers. They think they are hot, sexy and, God forbid, good looking.
We were cool with our hair flat topped (brush cut) and some wore their hair swept back into a ducktail; Wellington boots, saddle Oxfords, roll neck sweaters, (girls in mini-skirts) tomboyish hair cuts that made a statement, and some of us wore leather jackets with shirt collar curled up and tapered pegged pants or blue jeans.
The real question
The real question we should ask is what makes these kinds of displays so easily available? What affect are they having on our schools and where are the parents and teacher controls? Are we out of touch with young people today? It looks like it to me. Will all of this lead to more chaos in society? Is it a clear case of free will running wild, like those mod-hair tattooed body pierced teens I witnessed in a park in Florida recently, hugging and kissing, smoking and groping while it appeared to me they were on their school lunch break transported there on loud-coloured skate boards.
Tattoos and piercing are hip with thousands of other teens like those possibly led by celebrities who are getting highly publicized body art. Kids everywhere are cutting expenses by getting these procedures done by people who are not hygiene-conscious, under qualified, not certified and some are being body pierced in homes by school chums.
For those who rush into this world of image making with storefront hucksters, doctors insist on asking artists to see their sterilization equipment, and particularly ensure an autoclave – the device used in hospitals for sterilization, is being used.
The popular areas of piercing are the ear lobe, tongue, belly button, eyebrows, lips, nipples (even on men), and tattoos are placed on just about every part of the body – you name it they do it- some even on their genitals doctors report.
The risks of unregulated poor-hygiene body piercing and tattooing are enormous. Doctors say one in four develop infections; one in five have persistent drainage at the site of the piercing and one in seven have severe reactions to piercing dyes. Allergies, tainted blood on piercing needles often results in lifelong problems including blood-bone disease, AIDS, Hepatitis B and C, heart infection, syphillis, TB and sceptisis.
A physician in Florida said recently, “we found that commercially acquired tattoos accounted for more than twice as much Hepatitis C infections as injection-drug use. Tattoos can scar for life after they have been embedded into the skin. The removal of tattoos often leads to the need for medical help, psychology intervention and counseling,” he said.
Newfoundland is the only province without piercing and tattoo regulations, although the province’s department of health has completed a study – one that was commissioned two years ago by then provincial health minister Tom Osborne shortly after a young girl died after having her nipple pierced. The cause of death was toxic shock her autopsy report stated.
It will be interesting to see what Ross Wiseman the current Health Minister will do about regulating tattooing and piercing. Reports recently stated that his department has a position on the issue and Wiseman will put it before the cabinet for consideration. Up to this point, I don’t think there has been an official Cabinet statement on the problem.
Insistent teens beware
Doctors advise insistent teens to give as much consideration to what they are going to put on their body as they would any other big decision they make, and to absolutely look around for the safest, most experienced most artistic person one can find because the results will be important for the rest of their lives.
Unlike other more typical forms of self-expression – make-up, clothing, hairstyling i.e.) body art piercing and tattooing can lead to severe complications, even death. In one area here, there are posters on the sides of some school buses warning students to think before you pierce.
Hold your fire
Before the phones light up and the letters to me pour in, I want to assure <I>Compass<I> readers that I know without a single doubt that all of the above does not apply to all young people. Only a certain segment of our teens and young adults are piercing, tattooing and demonstrating weird behaviour in public.
The majority thankfully are balanced, intelligent, well behaved and are the pride of their parents, teachers and school friends who deplore piercing rings and tattoos.
However, even some of our finest young adults are involved in this crazy body-art fad with the consent of their parents. I know this is private and quite frankly some would say none of my business.
It is quite possible I am all wrong in these views in this column. But if I am I am not alone. There are doctors, politicians, teachers and youth counsellors who will support my opinions. I think I am in pretty good company you must agree, so hold your fire please.