Tattoo shop now a Safe Place for kids

Tattoo shop now a Safe Place for kids
Published: Mar. 27, 2015 at 10:45 PM EDT|Updated: May. 12, 2015 at 12:39 AM EDT
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Rick Harlan (Source: Jeff Knight, WAVE 3 News)
Rick Harlan (Source: Jeff Knight, WAVE 3 News)
Dalevina Lawson (Source: Jeff Knight, WAVE 3 News)
Dalevina Lawson (Source: Jeff Knight, WAVE 3 News)
Tattoo Machine Gun proudly displays it Safe Place sign. (Source: Jeff Knight, WAVE 3 News)
Tattoo Machine Gun proudly displays it Safe Place sign. (Source: Jeff Knight, WAVE 3 News)

JEFFERSONVILLE, IN (WAVE) - It's a distinction typically reserved for schools, fire houses, and libraries, but a tattoo shop in southern Indiana is breaking barriers by becoming the first in the country to earn the distinction of being recognized as a Safe Place.

After being opened for just a week the Tattoo Machine Gun on Charlestown - New Albany Road was certified as a Safe Place.

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"We'd like to be more than just a tattoo studio, we want to be a pillar in the community," said Rick Harlan, owner of Tattoo Machine Gun.

Unknown to most, the national Safe Place program, known for its recognizable yellow signs, was started in Kentucky more than 30 years ago.

"It means what it says," Dalevina Lawson said, "a safe place."

Lawson oversees the 82 Indiana Safe Place locations in Floyd and Clark counties. She was shocked when she heard that a tattoo shop wanted to become location 83 in her area.

"I thought, 'well Okay,'" Lawson recalled.

Lawson said the employees at the shop underwent sex offender registry checks like all new Safe Places do. After meeting the men Lawson said knew why they wanted to work with Safe Place.

"They're family men," Lawson said, "They have children so they know all about wanting to keep kids safe."

The training session only lasted about 30 minutes and included information about what to do if a child comes to their shop looking for help. After the training was over the Tattoo Machine Gun had their very own yellow Safe Place sign, a beacon of hope for runaways and abused kids.

"I couldn't speak with anyone else, but yeah I think it sounds good together," said Harlan.

Harlan hopes registering as a Safe Place breaks stereotypes some may have about people with tattoos and hopefully make his community in southern Indiana safer.

Last year, 44 kids were reported to have used the Safe Place shelters in Floyd and Clark counties alone.

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