Tattoo Education

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Tattoo Education is the term used for the education of tattooing. It usually covers the topics of Tattoo Transmitted Diseases, Tattoo safety, Planning for your Tattoo, and sometimes the more controversial topic of Self-tattooing. While previously tattooing information was only available in the home, or at a local tattoo venue, since the 60's a shift has been placing the burden onto public school systems and public health campaigns.

The history of Tattoo Education[edit]

Since the beginning of Tattoo Education has been a controversial subject and in the past it was rarely spoken of outside of the household. It's first organized placement into public school systems was in 1955 in the inner city New Hattigany High School in Chicago. The city had been hard pressed to provide a type of tattoo education since a hepatitis outbreak that spread though the city that summer. It initiated a small mandatory class to all students that taught about the importance of abstaining from tattooing, however this contained very little information about tattooing in general and used as more of a scare tactic to keep students from getting tattoos. As further outbreaks spread more and more schools adopted the program used by New Hattigany High. Later in the 1970's once tattoo education had become routine for most schools in the United States, the appearance of programs aimed at both tattoo abstinence and tattoo education occurred in the more liberal parts of the country. From there the tattoo education program has evolved into what it is today.

Resistance to Public Tattooing Education[edit]

Ever since it's first introduction into public school systems tattoo education has been a touchy subject for many. A group formed in 1969 called Mothers Against the Teaching of Tattooing Education (MATTE) has the strongest organized resistance against tattoo education. Their main argument is that tattoo education should stay in the home and should not be taught to children in the academic setting. Many schools leave the option of who teaches their child tattooing education to the parents, but most MATTE members are against any sort of formal school education all together since they believe that they should have the sole rights on if they should choose to teach their child or not and believe that the school systems way of handling tattooing issues actually promotes their children to get tattoos. They also argue that their children will hear about the tattooing education from their peers even if they did not attend the session. An opposing organization Mothers All For the Teaching of Tattooing Education (MAFTTE)was created in 1973 in order to prevent tattooing education from being removed from the public schooling. They believe that these classes do a better job than they could have done, and that it is important that children get tattooing education in a formal setting..

Other Organizations[edit]

Fathers Undertaking No Action Against Tattooing (FUNAAT) was created in the early 1990's in order to protect the rights of fathers who would rather not listen to all the bickering between MATTE and MAFTTE. They have recently joined up with the much older organization Fathers Against Taking Action (FATA) who supports their stance and allows them to sit in with them at their weekly meetings where they drink beer and do nothing of consequence. Parents Undecided About Tattooing (PUAT) is another new organization that has finally been made official after years of discussion. This group however has yet to take an active role in the ongoing tattoo debate. They usually end up going to both the meetings of the MATTE, MAFTTE, and FUNAAT organizations in order to obtain a "holistic view of things", however it should be noted that a disproportionate amount of the cookies tend to disappear at the meetings they attend.

One of the volunteers demonstrated the proper way to put on proper protection. Notice her own tattoo on her arm.

The basis of Tattoo Education[edit]

Most tattoo education contains at least these basic goals in order of importance.

  1. To try and prevent students from obtaining a tattoo.
  2. To go over the risks involved in getting a tattoo.
  3. To educate about the basics of tattooing.
  4. To try and give students an idea of what it might be like if they choose to go ahead and get tattooed.

Planning for your Tattoo[edit]

Getting a tattoo is a large step in any person's life. The tattoo itself is permanent unless special measures are taken to get it removed. Planning education has lately been the main focus of a new group known as the Planned Tattoo Education of America ('PTEA). This group specializes in giving all the information they can on the tattoo experience including answering many questions that potential first time tattoo getters often ask as demonstrated by their new pamphlet "Does the first time getting a tattoo hurt? and other questions for the curious." This group has largely taken over Tattoo Education in school systems and is the largest source of tattoo information. While the group emphasizes waiting to get a tattoo, as well as only getting a tattoo once finding an appropriate tattoo artist with plenty of experience with whom they are willing to build a relationship with, they also provide help for those who have gotten tattoos, as well as providing anonymous testing for TTD's. Recently they have begun even offering items to those who wish to self-tattoo including latex gloves, sterile needles, and a variety of tattoo creams and lotions used to help heal the skin. During the school sessions they often teach the proper procedure and use for these items so that if the said students choose to self-tattoo they do it in a clean and sterile environment in order to reduce the risk of TTD's.

Tattoo Removal[edit]

Tattoo removal has had a hard and trying history. The first tattoo removal clinic opened in the United States in 1973 by a Dr. Orange Julius. He was met with opposition since at the time tattoo removal was considered an unethical act. However in the court case Wod vs. Rade tattoo removal was considered to be protected under the second amendment. As the presiding chief justice Waron E. Burgers put it:

"I assume that no one will take issue with me when I say that these crazy fanatics are not as enlightened as the United States would like them to be in the value they place on the individual and on human dignity. Those nutcases do not consider it necessary to use a device like our Second Amendment, under which a person clearly has a right to remove any tattoo they posses in order to bear their arms. They go swiftly, efficiently and directly to the question of where the tattoo is located. No nation on earth goes to such lengths or takes such pains to provide safeguards as we do, once a person is tattooed they should be able to remove it at will, without resistance, wherever said tattoo may be."

Despite the protection grated to the choice of tattoo removal there still remain a large amount of opposition to the idea. Some common arguments against tattoo removal are based on religious arguments. Many think that by removing tattoos you are killing skin cells and by doing so you are guilty of murder. Some extremists have even gone so far to prevent tattoo removal by attacking tattoo removal clinics. As of 2007 there are three known deaths and a number of injuries that have occurred directly from these attacks. As of yet no one has pointed out that killing skin cells seems to be a less serious crime than those of the attackers, possibly due to fear that they will be singled out next.

Tattoo Abstinence Education[edit]

Some schools opt to teach only the more traditional Tattoo Abstinence program. These program aims to only teach the necessity of tattoo abstinence and what risks are involved in getting a tattoo. Most are based mainly on a program of TTD education including how TTD's are contracted and what effects they have on the body. Protesters of this method of teaching cite that while it may help prevent some students from getting tattoos, it offers no help to those that will get a tattoo anyway and by not teaching proper procedures for finding that right tattoo artist could actually encourage the spread of TTD's. Most Tattoo Abstinence education also has all students sign a "pledge card" where they swear not to get a tattoo until they are of age. This method however has not had much effect on reducing incidents of tattoos in High School students, possibly because the students are forced to sign in order to pass the class. A new tactic has been to threaten to sue any students who break this written agreement in order to prevent other students. So far this has not had in effect in reducing the number of underage tattoo incidents.

Tattoo Safety[edit]

While current tattooing practices are generally safer than in years past, tattooing still carries some risks. Without the proper protection such as latex gloves tattooing carries the risk of passing on TTD's. Also without sterilized equipment serious infections can occur. There of course is always the risk of getting a tattoo and then regretting it due to a change in mind or a poor artist. Most of these concerns can be reduced by finding a well qualified tattoo artist. The search for a good tattoo artist should not be rushed and should take quite some time. Even if a person finds a tattoo artist that they think is right for them, it is usually customary not to rush things and to wait a set period. After a long time getting to know the tattoo artist a date is then set for the tattooing. Studies show that the longer a person and a tattoo artist are together before the tattooing the less likely it is that the person will regret the tattoo, also the probability of contracting a TTD goes down since planned tattoos usually occur among the most sanitary environments.


Otherwise known as Tattoo Transmitted Diseases (TTD's) these are the diseases that are known to be able to spread through tattooing. Students are encouraged to practice safe tattooing practices if they choose to obtain a tattoo in order to prevent contracting or spreading TTD's. Some of the largest risks of getting a tattoo include contracting a TTD. While most TTD's are harmless other than being terribly painful and embarrassing, some can be deadly and can ruin the life of an individual that contracts one.

A list of common Tattoo Transmited Diseases:

Self-Tattoo Awareness[edit]

Nowadays most schools have integrated some form of self-tattooing awareness in their tattoo education classes. While being the most controversial subject by far due to it's inherent risks and it's ambiguous morality, many believe that it is necessary to teach. During a recent convention for MAFTTE the arguments for self-tattoo awareness were summed up by their president Nancy Heggler: It isn't enough to talk about abstinence. The fact is kids are going to self-tattoo, so it is better that they learn about how they need to protect themselves rather than do it uneducated. That is why self-tattooing education needs to be allowed because they are going to go through with it no matter if they know how to do it or not. We were all young once, we remember that age of experimentation. I wouldn't be surprised it some of us had some self-tats from those days. The facts are that people have been tattooing themselves for centuries and there is no sign of them stopping now. While an emphasis on waiting for a tattoo until you become of age and find that special someone, (A professional with a license and clean working environment.) is still needed the dangers of Tattoo Transmitted Diseases are too great to simply ignore Safety precautions also need to be taught to those who might encounter self-tattooing before they are ready. I strongly recommend that a center should become available for people to have access to self-tattooing information and help, as well as free anonymous TTD testing. Preventative latex gloves, and clean needles should also be handed out to those in need.

Tattoo Assault[edit]

Another topic often looked over during Tattoo Education classes is that of Tattoo Assault. Tattoo Assault is the forceful to tattoo an individual, the severest type of tattoo assault is when someone actually follows through with this and forcefully tattoos and individual against their will. This is known as tattoo rape and is a growing problem in large cities. Schools generally give lectures on how to spot Tattoo assault, what you can do to prevent tattoo assault, and what to do if you are ever assaulted. Some basic self defense is also taught at some schools to help prevent the likelihood that tattoo assault turns into tattoo rape. A number of organizations exist to help those who have suffered from tattoo assault and rape and the names and numbers of these are often passed out to students so they know where to turn. A number of these also go around not only to schools but to workplaces as well where tattoo assault has been known to occur.

Self-Tattooing Resistance[edit]

A movement has occurred to try and put a stop to self tattooing and self tattooing education. Comprised of mostly religious fanatics and people with nothing better to do they believe that self-tattooing is a sin and that by teaching safe self-tattooing practices you are damning the young to a eternal life of damnation, damnation in hell.

Some common slogans for Anti-Self-Tattooing propaganda:

  • "Every time you self tattoo God kills a kitten"
  • "Dr. Tattoo or How I learned to stop self-tattooing and get a professional."