May 7, 2002
5:24 PM   Subscribe

A report released at a conference this week suggests a parent should be very worried because high school students with body piercings tend also to have smoked, used alcohol, had sex, skipped school and gotten into fights.

The author of the report proudly annonced that later this week he would be releasing several new reports such as "Black Males - More likely to commit crime" and other assinine topics.
posted by christian (39 comments total)
 
Where is the think about black males?
posted by delmoi at 5:30 PM on May 7, 2002


He would be interested in the similar research: Teen Sex Linked To Drugs And Alcohol.
posted by phatboy at 5:31 PM on May 7, 2002


Might want to check the dictionary before you post next time.

Anyway, from press release: To do the study, Roberts and his colleagues analyzed information from a national sample of 4,595 adolescents done in 1996

That's a pretty good sized sample, I wouldn't be so quick to paint this report in the prejudical way you are doing. Or don't you believe in scientific or statistical truths?
posted by jeremias at 5:36 PM on May 7, 2002


Spare us from ill-thought out links. That would be just about 90% of what shows up on Yahoo. Hell, at least make an argument, not just a snarky aside.

If you have an issue with this - fine - make a case. If not, just don't hit POST.
posted by lampshade at 5:44 PM on May 7, 2002


First off, I'm amused at your dictionary comment. Very commendable way to begin an arguement.

And secondly, the "study" is ludicrous. The statistics are 8 years old, for crying out loud.

Studies like this are released not for the benefit of the public, but to back up the researchers preconceived notions.

Perhaps it is "research" such as this which is obviously directed at alienating these kids that makes them want to skip school to begin with?

If your adolescent wants to have a body piercing, it is a reason to talk to them," he advised

"Mom, I want a nosepiercing."

'Oh my god! I need to talk to you now! Why?!'

"Because I've looked into it a lot and I want a nose piercing. For the same reason I bought red shoes. Or a green car. Because that's what I like, and my decisions are based upon a thousand things that I see everyday, which has nothing to do with whether or not I'm going to drink, do drugs, or quit school."

If I go out with a clipboard attempting to prove my theory that all jocks beat up kids, then I will easily find evidence to support that. Because I am *searching* for it. This is not a random study.

In my high school, practically everyone was having sex. Practically everyone was doing drugs, and practically everyone skipped school. That's what most of the teenagers there did. Most of them didn't have tattoos, or piercings.
posted by christian at 5:49 PM on May 7, 2002


I dunno, these days the prom king and queen are likely to have a coupla tats and his and hers nipple rings, so things may have changed since 1996, jeremias.

Besides during my high school years , I did all the things mentioned in the post(except having sex, but it wasn't for lack of trying) and I'm proud to say that I don't have a single tattoo or piercing on me. Sounds like a half-witted attempt to give parents a new thing to handwring about.
posted by jonmc at 5:51 PM on May 7, 2002


"Or don't you believe in scientific or statistical truths?"

I think the poster's point is that just because Johnny comes home from spring break with a nipple ring doesn't mean mom & dad should flip out.

All too often people read these sorts of reports as cause and effect - body piercings cause kids to screw up more.

The larger problem (as I see it) is not so much that kids are into tats or piercings or whatever... it's that they are buying into a sense of style that makes them feel like they are rebeling - brought to you buy the fine folks at MTV and the likes of Fred Durst. Thanks a lot, rap-rock.

At the same time the kids who's parents would spank their butts for coming home with a tounge stud are strangely enough the same kids who tend to do better in school, go to college and have a career beyond the fast food industry or working at the mall. Does anyone else see a trend here?

Kids, (not that any kids read this or anything else) if you really want to rebel write a harsh letter to the editor of your town paper explaing why your town sucks... or expose the hyposcarcy of your school administration. Do something - anything - other than being just another stupid kid.
posted by wfrgms at 5:52 PM on May 7, 2002


Careful christian - piercings are a serious issue gosh darnit! What would Rush think of your post?
posted by badstone at 5:53 PM on May 7, 2002


4,595 is a lot of people until you consider half of those teens would need to be a control group and half would need to male, half female; and that this sampling would only pull from a fraction of the possible districts.

When it comes down to it, we don't know enough about the analysis to determine how well the researcher did their job, and we don't have to.

The study concludes that you can use appearence as a means to prejudge people based on a small sample statistical analysis done 8 years ago. And that is what's wrong with it. Therein lies the prejudicial problem. You see, statistical analysis is used all the time to justify race profiling, government spending, dot-com funding, lots of things. Back in the 80's they used it to convince Americans that AIDS was only a homosexual disease.

I don't need to know a whole lot about the method of data collection when the point of the research was to PROVE that body piercing means kids are bad.
posted by christian at 6:53 PM on May 7, 2002


What would Rush think of your post?

Wow...I had no idea my opinion carried such weight around here!
posted by rushmc at 6:55 PM on May 7, 2002


i hope my parents dont find this link...
i'm not in the mood to have to answer 3000 questions a day along the lines of "are you doing drugs, are you having unprotected sex" from them.
posted by sixtwenty3dc at 7:03 PM on May 7, 2002


It may be possible that people with piercings are more honest, and everyone is having sex, drinking, and using drugs. Or maybe people with piercings are more likely to lie on surveys...

There are other explanations...

I remember taking a survey similar to this in HS during my senior year... For fun, everyone in our class decided to say that we had tried every drug, etc.

So this is what they base their statistics on, the word of a bunch of adolescent pranksters?
posted by zuzu at 7:24 PM on May 7, 2002


I took surveys like this in high school as well, and there were drugs on there that the researchers made completely up just to foil kids like Zuzu and zuzu's buddies who just check "yes" to everything to screw stuff up.
As someone with a piercing or two and close friends with multiple (some of them extreme) piercings, I'm going to chime in with the obligitory "this is more complicated than it's being made out to be" opinion. Some kinds of piercings are becoming so mainstream that most kids find them about as alarming as ear piercing. I would include nose, eyebrow, lip and even tongue in that group. Other piercings, especially genital piercings, often seem to have some serious issues behind wanting them. I'd venture to guess that kids who have experienced sexual molestation (a scarily large number) are both more likely to want extreme piercings and to "act out" in other ways including abusing drugs and alcohol at a young age. Both the piercings and the other attention-getting behavior are likely the symptoms of the same underlying feelings. Claiming that one causes the other is just plain wrong, but claiming that they have nothing to do with each other isn't right either.
posted by bonheur at 7:47 PM on May 7, 2002


Maybe it's just the school I went to, but none of the top students at my high school had random body piercings. And the body piercing crowd was much more likely to be involved in legal and illegal drugs. It doesn't take a genius to see a correlation there. That said, this doesn't represent causation, just correlation. Learn to tell the difference b/w the two.

And hate to break it to ya, christian, but one out of every four Black men in this country will go to prison in his lifetime (source) and it ain't for imaginary crimes. You can argue that they are being targeted, that some crimes are more heavily persecuted than others, that they didn't have good lawyers, whatever. That doesn't change the fact that they committed a serious crime.
posted by Witold at 8:16 PM on May 7, 2002


Also, people who belong to many ethnic minorities are more (though increasingly less) likely to grow up poor, and poor people are more likely to commit certain crimes. It may be a valid statistic, but it doesn't mean that anyone is racially predisposed to be a criminal.
posted by bingo at 8:47 PM on May 7, 2002


Don't you have to be eighteen or have parental permission to get a tattoo or piercing? Or is that just in Massachusetts?
posted by acridrabbit at 10:13 PM on May 7, 2002


In Minnesota a person has to be 18 to get a tattoo or piercing unless they bring a parent along to give permission. The article isn't about the dangers of piercing per se, it's about the fact that if your child gets an "exotic" piercing (or wants one) they may be struggling with self-esteem and exhibiting other self-destructive behaviors as well, in some cases. It's not getting the piercing that causes the problems, the article just says that kids with a lot of piercings tend to exhibit other dangerous behaviors as well. Laws preventing the piercing of minors isn't going to make any difference in this trend-- kids will just pierce themselves (already a disturbing trend in and of itself) or find other ways to act out their underlying anger.
(of course this doesn't apply to EVERY teen or EVERY piercing. just a significant portion.)
posted by bonheur at 11:24 PM on May 7, 2002


In California, you have to be 18 or have a parent with you for piercings (and I assume for tattoos). At least, when I was 17 and got my ear pierced, I had to have mom come to the mall with me, sign a form, and glare at me while saying, "if you want another hole in your head..."

I have four earrings and a tattoo now, and have not yet thrown my life away (although some might consider applying to law school pretty close) or fallen into a downward sprial of sex, drugs and violence. <sigh> There's always tomorrow!
posted by jewishbuddha at 11:39 PM on May 7, 2002


> tend also to have smoked, used alcohol, had sex,
> skipped school and gotten into fights.

High school students, regardless of piercings, tend to have smoked, used alcohol, had sex, skipped school and gotten into fights. If you didn't do at least four of those things at least once each, you might as well have stayed home. People with mature genitalia will use their genitalia. People driven insane by boredom (including most teenagers) will seek escape, will tend to avoid responsibility (skipping school), will get angry (fighting), and will try anything to kill the damned tedium (smoking, drinking, and maybe some semi-destructive body alterations such as piercing or tattoos or butting cigarettes out on their arms or whatever, etc.).
posted by pracowity at 1:29 AM on May 8, 2002


Witold, well put.

Here in illinois its the same deal about age, 18 and over or with a parent's approval. That sure didn't stop some of my friends from getting a piercing from a friend or acquaintance in the business or from an "independant piercer" who is under 18 himself.
posted by skallas at 1:31 AM on May 8, 2002


High school students, regardless of piercings, tend to have smoked, used alcohol, had sex, skipped school and gotten into fights. If you didn't do at least four of those things at least once each, you might as well have stayed home.

Copout. Not all high school students are sheep and it's silly to paint them all with so broad a brush.
posted by rushmc at 6:59 AM on May 8, 2002


The sheep are the kids following every rule every time.

Which of those did you not try in school?
posted by pracowity at 7:04 AM on May 8, 2002


And hate to break it to ya, christian, but one out of every four Black men in this country will go to prison in his lifetime (source) and it ain't for imaginary crimes. You can argue that they are being targeted, that some crimes are more heavily persecuted than others, that they didn't have good lawyers, whatever. That doesn't change the fact that they committed a serious crime.

Eep. This is a troll, right?

I mean, looking at these statistics, the first conclusion I'm inclined to draw is that there's something wrong with our penal system, not that blacks commit more crimes. In fact, the link in the comment states that, "Incarceration rates are such a poor predictor of crime rates that researchers would find proximity [of states] to Canada more reliable"

Don't mean to hijack, but unless it's sarcasm, Witold's comment seems pretty racist to me.
posted by andnbsp at 7:23 AM on May 8, 2002


It doesn't surprise me that young people whose bodies have been mutilated for cosmetic purposes would be more likely to be involved in unsavory activities.

Now, 'fess up, how many of you guys have been circumcised?
posted by groundhog at 7:24 AM on May 8, 2002


> The sheep are the kids following every rule every time.

You know...

If so many kids are drinking, smoking, doing drugs, having sex, etc. and only the abnormal ones aren't doing that... then who exactly are the sheep? Who are the nonconformists?

I didn't do those things because (A) it was stupid, (B) I didn't care whether a bunch of assholes thought I was cool, and (C) didn't particularly want to (except the sex).

Meanwhile I was listening to Skinny Puppy, and I'd have gotten a tattoo (and still would) if I could think of something I wanted to permanently mark my body with.
posted by Foosnark at 8:12 AM on May 8, 2002


> Now, 'fess up, how many of you guys have been circumcised?

Voluntarily? As adults? Ha!

But you have a very good point. There are millions of moms (many of them with pierced ears and bizarre face paint) and dads (a few of them, too) who happily had a chunk of Junior's little cock lopped off at birth 15 years ago, but who would now stare in horror if Junior came home with a little removable pin stuck through his nipple.

Still, some piercings give me the willies. Especially the ones involving willies.
posted by pracowity at 8:13 AM on May 8, 2002


> I didn't do those things because (A) it was stupid,
> (B) I didn't care whether a bunch of assholes thought
> I was cool, and (C) didn't particularly want to (except
> the sex).

No one said you had to do any of it for anyone else. But if you never had a drink or tried a cigarette or a joint or skipped school once or fumbled through some form of sex before you got out of school, you must be very incurious or very puritanical.
posted by pracowity at 8:31 AM on May 8, 2002


If you can't do it when you're young, when can you do it? I say the study was commissioned by Jocks to get Goths in trouble. Am I right?
posted by boneybaloney at 10:27 AM on May 8, 2002


This advice seems reasonable to me, particularly for people who have a lot of piercings or highly visible ones. If a teenager thinks putting six hoops through their nose improves their appearance, clearly they should be watched carefully for other signs of impaired judgment.

High school students, regardless of piercings, tend to have smoked, used alcohol, had sex, skipped school and gotten into fights. If you didn't do at least four of those things at least once each, you might as well have stayed home.

Tend to, perhaps. I never did any of that stuff, because I knew my dad wouldn't like it if I did. And I knew that if he didn't like it, I wouldn't like him not liking it. But then, my parents had this unusual idea that I was being sent to school to get an education.
posted by kindall at 11:43 AM on May 8, 2002


News Report:

A report released at a conference this week suggests a parent should be very worried because high school students without body piercings tend also to be uptight, overly cautious, humorless, bad in bed, and no fun at parties.
posted by Captain Ligntning at 1:05 PM on May 8, 2002


But if you never had a drink or tried a cigarette or a joint or skipped school once or fumbled through some form of sex before you got out of school, you must be very incurious or very puritanical.

What a generalized, baseless, presumptuous claim!
posted by rushmc at 5:13 PM on May 8, 2002


If you can't do it when you're young, when can you do it?

umm...when you're older?
posted by rushmc at 5:14 PM on May 8, 2002


More on topic: the piercings I can't stand are those two ball septal nose rings--what we call snotcatchers around here. Man, that is an acquired taste and a half. Plus a way of telling the world I'll never be a front desk receptionist at a prestigious law firm.
posted by y2karl at 5:34 PM on May 8, 2002


Oops, forgot the more off topic:

Hey everybody, let's pants jonmc and give him a Barney tattoo!

posted by y2karl at 5:35 PM on May 8, 2002


> What a generalized, baseless, presumptuous claim!

So I guess that's a 'no' to whether you tried any of them, then. Well, that's fine, but others did and still got great grades and went on to do well in college and so on and so on. They had fun, satisfied their curiosity, and went on to lead lives as good as the kids who never did anything they couldn't happily confess to mom and dad at the dinner table.

> But then, my parents had this unusual idea that I was
> being sent to school to get an education.

The only real education you get in school, but it is a very important one, and you'll never learn it at home, is not in books: how to interact with your peers, how to listen to your boss, how to not listen to your boss, how to make yourself do things you don't want to do, how to avoid doing things that are a waste of time, and how to think towards the future. The rest -- mathematics, science, literature, history -- you could learn better at home if you knew how to make yourself do things you don't want to do and how to think towards the future. Teachers rarely teach you anything you couldn't have learned (like some teachers seem to do) from the text book the night before class. Motivated students always know the material before the teacher says a word.
posted by pracowity at 10:47 PM on May 8, 2002


Man, that is an acquired taste and a half. Plus a way of telling the world I'll never be a front desk receptionist at a prestigious law firm.

Isn't such a situation to be avoided at all costs?
posted by bingo at 12:46 AM on May 9, 2002


Being a front desk receptionist at a prestigious law firm? It certainly sounds like a thing to be avoided. If it took a painful and unsightly nasal piercing to keep me out of it, I'd get the piercing.
posted by pracowity at 1:14 AM on May 9, 2002


Two years ago I saw a gutter punk girl, about fifteen, on Broadway with spider web tattoos on her eyelids. That was the saddest thing I'd ever seen, this kid, this fool, with the de riguer soon-to-be-dead young kitten tied to her pack by a string, spare changing in a high squeaky voice, without a fucking clue of what a miserable future to which she had consigned herself.

The law firm receptionist line was a joke--although having temped at enough law firms, they're usually the coolest people there, since they are hired not only for looks but an engaging personality. They are generally offbeat tres hip types, at least here in Seattle.

I guess I could have used a less threatening and more generic example. My experience of the work world is that, outside of the Amazon warehouse and customer service suites, no visible tattoos is the rule. Which is why you suddenly see a lot of ink on weekends or after work during the occasional heat wave here in Seattle.
posted by y2karl at 11:00 PM on May 10, 2002


And those receptionists make beau coup buckeros, too, don't forget. And can usually get away with surfing the net when things are slow. You don't need a piercing, guys, to have missed out on a chance for that job, anyway, am I right?
posted by y2karl at 11:04 PM on May 10, 2002


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