Many people working with teenagers on the street in Edmonton are concerned by a growing trend - teen using kits to give themselves tattoos.


Youth worker Mark Cherrington says many of the kids he works with don't know if the needles used for their tattoos were clean or not. (CBC News)

"When you're dealing with kids on the street in basements and in the back of cars, they're very ignorant to the aspects of health associated with getting tattoos," said Mark Cherrington, a youth outreach worker.

"Hygiene isn't an issue, hygiene isn't a priority and sometimes it can have tragic results."

Cherrington said he’s seen a spike in the tattoos in the past year and a half.

He said when he asks if the needles used in the tattoos were clean, many teens don’t seem that concerned.

"‘I don't know. I have to ask my uncle. I don't know I have to ask my friend. I was at a party. I was drunk.’ It's a non-issue with most of the kids I work with."

Home tattoo kits can be found online, some selling for less than $100.

Frank Pierrot knows the risks when it comes to these kinds of tattoos.

He had a couple done while he was in prison more than 20 years ago.


Frank Pierrot says the dirty needle his friend used to give him a tattoo in prison led to him contracting Hepititis C. (CBC News)

The needles that Pierrot used were dirty and he contracted Hepatitis C.

"Don't do it because you risk your life your health perhaps you catch hiv because the needles are not clean," Pierrot said. "My friends said they cleaned them and he didn't."

Legitimate tattoo artists take courses and have to follow strict health regulations to prevent risk like Hepatitis, HIV and infection.

Cherrington is worried that despite the risks, there is little that can be done to stop street kids from using the kits.

"Kids have sense of being indestructible," he said.