Childhood Hearing Loss and … BULLYING?
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
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.
HEARING CARE MAKES A DIFFERENCE
Did You Know?
Untreated hearing loss can affect not only children’s ability to communicate effectively but also their
emotional, social, and educational development, making comprehensive hearing health care an
important part of their long-term success.
What Can You Do?
Schedule regular hearing checkups for your kids — just as you would for their eyes and teeth — and
recognize some of the signs of possible hearing loss:
• Problems understanding what’s being said
• Frequent responses of “Huh?” or “What?”
• Complaints of noise or earaches
• Turning up of the television
• Failing grades or reports that your child doesn’t respond in class
• A gut feeling that something’s off with your child’s hearing
If you have questions about childhood hearing loss or ways to help your hearing-impaired loved ones
communicate their best, we can help. Call us today at 760-889-8542!
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-HearingLoss-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.