Teens and Tattoos: Would You Let Your Teen Get Inked?

Body art has become increasingly common in high schools across the country.

ByABC News via logo
October 11, 2010, 8:28 AM

Oct. 11, 2010— -- From the arms of A-list celebrities like Angelina Jolie on the red carpet to star athletes like David Beckham on the soccer field, it seems as if tattoos are everywhere.

The permanent ink etchings, once associated with comic strip characters like Popeye and big-screen bad boys like Robert DeNiro in the 1991 blockbuster "Cape Fear," have gone mainstream.

Body art has become increasingly common in the hallways of high schools throughout the country.

"In the last 10 years, we've seen more and more teenagers getting tattoos and getting larger tattoos," said Patrick Dean, owner of the Tattooville Tattoo Parlor in Neptune, N.J.

A 2010 Pew Research study found that nearly 40 percent of young people between the ages of 18 and 29 have tattoos, and of those, half have two to five tattoos.

The study also found that parents increasingly support their kids' decisions to get tattoos.

According to a ballot on Cafemom.com, 15 percent of moms say they'd allow their teens to get a tattoo while 30 percent say they're either uncertain or are open to the idea, depending on a teenager's age.

Tattoo laws for teens under 18 vary from state to state, and in some cases even from city to city. Kathy Linthicum of Arkansas accompanied her son, Matthew Weiss, to a tattoo parlor last week to present him with his 16th birthday gift: a tattoo of a cross he'd been asking for for more than a year.

"I never in a million years thought I'd be giving my son a tattoo for his birthday," said Linthicum, who admits she was reluctant at first but was convinced after months of conversation.

"It did pass through my mind that someday, is he going to say, 'Mom, why'd you let me do this?' But we talked about it for a long time, and it's something he never changed his mind on," she said.