Erase the Past

Fact Sheet


About “Erase The Past”

  1. Developed in 1998 by Bryna Kane, MD and Edward Glassberg, MD in Long Beach,
    California at their Long Beach Memorial Medical Center
  2. Mission: To help former gang members and youth at risk erase their past
    and go forward with productive lives and gain employment.
  3. Dr. Kane developed an interest in tattoos at a young age.  As the
    daughter of survivors of the Holocaust and the Nazi concentration camp at
    Auschwitz, she grew up watching her father’s friends constantly wear long
    sleeves year-round, even on hot summer days, to cover up the tattoos with
    which the Nazis had scarred their arms.  Her experience inspired to
    help gang members and young people at risk turn their lives around.
  4. The program provides free tattoo removal in exchange for community service
  5. Multi-faceted community based program involving coordination between a
    major LA area hospital, Police Department, Department of Parks and Recreation
    and a bike program

History of Tattoos

  1. Tattoos and body piercing have become very common and fully mainstream
    in our modern society
  2. Estimated 20,000 tattoo parlors currently operate in the United States
  3. Tattooing and body piercing date back 5300 years and have served as cultural
    and religious rituals, signs of beautification, and a means of identification

Tattoos in the United States

  1. 62% of young people acquire their first tattoo before age 14
  2. 45% of the “Erase the Past” participants have amateur tattoos, which carry
    greater health risks and dangers
  3. 25% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 50 are tattooed
  4. 36% of 18 to 29 year olds estimated to have at least 1 tattoo
  5. 14% of all adults in the United States have at least one tattoo

Risk, Complications and Long Term Effects of Tattoos

  1. The permanent ink may contain heavy metals and carcinogens and are not
    regulated by the government or the FDA
  2. Infection from unsterile equipment can cause HIV, Hepatitis C, Staph Infections,
    Herpes, and other bacterial and viral infections
  3. Allergic reactions to ink and Keloid formation
  4. MRI Complication – People report burning and swelling at the tattoo sites
  5. Permanently identifies you with an event such as the Holocaust or a group
    such as a gang
  6. Social stigmatization

Motivation for Tattoo Removal

  1. Erasing the past
  2. Improving self-image and regaining positive identity
  3. Leaving gangs behind
  4. Ending job discrimination
  5. Gaining admission to certain brands of the armed forces

“Erase The Past” Has Transformed Lives

  1. The youth at risk tattoo removal program has rehabilitated gang members
    drawing various ethnic groups to the program from a across the entire community

    1. Female; Male 2:1  - 56%
    2. Hispanic Gangs – 16%
    3. Asian Gangs – 12%
    4. White Supremacist -  12%
    5. Black Gangs – 11%
    6. Pacific Islanders – 3%
    7. Native Americans – 2%

Erase the Past