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J Adolesc. 2006 Jun;29(3):379-93. Epub 2005 Aug 18.

Are tattooing and body piercing indicators of risk-taking behaviours among high school students?

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Health and Social Services Agency of Outaouais, Public Health Unit, 104 Lois Street, Gatineau, Quebec, Canada J8Y 3R7.



To date, studies pertaining to possible links between body modification and risk-taking behaviours have been conducted mainly among targeted groups. The objective of this study is to examine the influence of a number of risk-taking behaviours on the probability of being pierced or tattooed among a general adolescent population.


Data come from a cross-sectional study conducted among a sample of 2180 students aged 12-18. Data were collected directly from students through a self-report survey.


Findings confirm the "risky" nature of these practices even though the tattooed and pierced subjects of this study were from a general adolescent population. Factors that contribute significantly to the likelihood of teenagers being tattooed or pierced, for both genders, are associated with "externalized risk behaviours" such as multiple drug use, illegal activities, gang affiliation, problem gambling, school truancy and rave attendance.


Nowadays, tattooing and body piercing are perceived by many as body decoration, increasingly belonging to the realm of generational conformity. Contrary to this view, our results suggest that these practices among adolescents are mostly adopted by those who are involved in various deviant or illegal activities, which are often interrelated.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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