260188 Tattoo-removal services for formerly gang-affiliated urban youth: Understanding and addressing needs in San Francisco Bay Area's Alameda County

Monday, October 29, 2012 : 9:10 AM - 9:30 AM

Sonia Jain, DrPH , Health and Human Development Program, WestEd, Oakland, CA
Adriana Mercedes Alvarado , Community Health Services Division, Project New Start and Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention Program, Alameda County Public Health Department, Oakland, CA
Quamrun Eldridge , Community Health Services Division, Alameda County Public Health Department, Oakland, CA
Mansi Master, MPA , Health and Human Development Program, WestEd, Oakland, CA
Alison Cohen , School of Public Health, Division of Epidemiology, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA
Urban gang-affiliated youth are highly vulnerable but are rarely identified as a priority population for developing public health interventions. Youth currently or formerly in gangs have higher unemployment rates, lower educational attainment, higher rates of substance abuse and mental health issues and recidivism, each of which are associated with poorer overall health and quality of life. Former gang-affiliated youth often have unique complex needs and assets. Two-thirds of Alameda County youth in the juvenile justice system surveyed expressed interest in tattoo removal as a way to help them accomplish ambitious educational and occupational goals they set for themselves. Yet there is a dearth of published public health literature (only one article found in PubMed) on tattoo removal for gang-involved youth as a strategy to support positive youth development. We explore the history, characteristics, and plans of Project New Start, which provides tattoo removal services and other case management and youth development services to formerly gang-affiliated youth in the San Francisco Bay Area's Alameda County. In exchange for tattoo removal, the youth collaborate with multiple partners to participate in positive activities (e.g., employment, education, community service). The top five reasons youth wanted to remove a tattoo were to make a positive change, avoid violence or become an ex-gang member, get a job, remove the mistake, and be a role model; almost all hoped to advance educationally and/or occupationally. We recommend that providers elsewhere harness youth strengths to create constituent-driven, multi-pronged approaches to violence prevention, positive youth development and health promotion.

Learning Areas:
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Other professions or practice related to public health
Program planning

Learning Objectives:
1. describe the assets, needs, and aspirations of formerly gang-affiliated urban youth (in an Alameda County sample) 2. describe how strengths-based, youth-driven programming can promote positive youth development among vulnerable populations

Keywords: Urban Health, Youth

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I served as the principal evaluator of this program, have several years of experience promoting public health in Alameda County, and my dissertation as well as much of my current work is focused on the particular vulnerabilities of urban youth exposed to violence, and the role of assets-based approaches.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.