Hearing-impaired youth of school age appear to be bullied at a greater rate than their typical-hearing counterparts, according to a University of Texas at Dallas study published earlier this year in the journal Exceptional Children.

The study, “Effect of Hearing Loss on Peer Victimization in School-Age Children,” surveyed 87 participants ages 7 to 18 who wore hearing aids or cochlear implants and found that:

  • Nearly half of respondents — compared to approximately 28 percent of adolescents among the general population — reported being bullied.
  • The nature of the bullying experienced by hearing-impaired youth mirrored what their peers with other special needs have faced.
  • Hearing-impaired youth were even more likely to report feeling socially excluded — over 25 percent of respondents compared to 5 percent of youth generally.

“These findings parallel published reports of fewer invitations to social events, lower quantity and quality of friendships, and higher loneliness in children and adolescents with hearing loss,” offered the study’s authors in a UT Dallas news release.

Auditory-based communication difficulties can lead to missed jokes, conversation gaps, or other challenges affecting peer relationships, researchers speculated in the news release. As another possibility, “peer problems might indicate a broader issue of not recognizing social cues from conversation or distinguishing true friendship from acquaintances.”

“Friendships are important to most young people, but I believe they are especially important for children with hearing loss,” shared co-investigator Andrea Warner-Czyz, Ph.D., in the release. “Anything parents can do to facilitate social interaction and friendship and letting them learn how to be a friend and who is a friend is critical.”

It’s also critical that parents, teachers, coaches, administrators, fellow students, and others across the school community help stop bullying in the first place. Approximately one in five students ages 12 to 18 reports being bullied at school, per the National Center for Education Statistics, making awareness, prevention, and response crucial to ensuring a safe and welcoming learning environment for all.
If you have questions about childhood hearing loss or ways to help your hearing-impaired loved ones communicate their best, we can help. Contact us today!

The University of Texas at Dallas | News Center. Study Shows Children With Hearing Loss Experience More Bullying. https://www.utdallas.edu/news/2018/4/16-32922_Study-Shows-Children-with-Hearing-Loss-Experience-_story-wide.html. Accessed May 17, 2018. National Center for Educational Statistics. Fast Facts: Bullying. https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=719. Accessed May 29, 2018.

Leave a Reply