skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 236966 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: Use of the Teardrop Tattoo by Young Street Gang Members in Canada
Journal: Journal of Gang Research  Volume:19  Issue:1  Dated:Fall 2011  Pages:37-52
Author(s): Mark Totten, M.S.W., R.S.W., Ph.D.
Date Published: 2011
Page Count: 16
Type: Issue Overview
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This paper reports on the use of a specific gang-related communication ritual - the teardrop tattoo - using a sample of 290 youth gang members.
Abstract: The sample was derived from a series of six Canadian qualitative investigations over a 10-year period (1995-2005) in various geographic regions of the country. This is the first Canadian project on the use of the teardrop tattoo by young gang members. Ninety-seven of the 290 participants had been convicted of murder or manslaughter. Seventy-one of this group, all male, had at least 1 teardrop tattoo. An additional 10 male participants who had served time in a correctional facility but had not been charged with murder or manslaughter had the tattoo. The findings confirm anecdotal observations that the teardrop is reported by gang members to signify to fellow gang members and rival gangs that they have killed a rival, had a member of their gang or family killed, or have served prison time. A primary function which young gang members attribute to the tattoo is to communicate the message that they are dangerous and must be respected. (Published Abstract)
Main Term(s): Juvenile/Youth Gangs
Index Term(s): Canada; Foreign criminal justice research; Gang member attitudes; Gang violence; Juvenile gang behavior patterns; Tattoos
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.