As you might know, the Samoan culture is rich in body art-tattoos. Tattoos are put on the body to show status. In my opinion they are really beautiful. They are tasteful Samoan designs all with just black ink.
There is a problem with there being so much tattoo work. Everyone seems to want one. This usually means most kids when they are in the college (secondary school) have a friend or family member tattoo them the initials of their school on their hand.
Last week, I ran into one of my former students who is in year 9. I noticed a tattoo of his initials on his hand…and another one on his upper arm. I inquired who did it, and it was one of his classmates, also in year 9. They had found the equipment and wanted to try it out, so they began tattooing everyone they could.
Many times people of that age try to make their own tattooing equipment, and are quite successful-which also leads to several people being tattooed.
I have no problem with adults getting tattoos, as they are old enough to know what they are doing, and that it is irreversible. The problem is too many children do it, and some of them don’t realize until after, that unlike the pen tattoo they had before, they can’t get rid of it.
I think the worst tattoo story I heard was from another volunteer. Her host brother who is 7 years old had gotten one. His older brother made tattooing equipment, and wanted to try it out, and only his little brother was home. The little boy spent a long time rubbing it off, and was upset to find out it was there forever.
Tattoos when done right in Samoa are stunning, however, when they are done by amateur kids-it often looks like a dirt mark that is hard to get rid of.