Childhood Hearing Loss…And Bullying?

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Add bullying to the list of reasons to keep kids’ hearing health in top shape. Hearing-impaired youth of school age appear to be bullied more than their typical-hearing counterparts, per a University of Texas at Dallas study published in the journal of 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% of adolescents in 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% of respondents compared to 5% 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 “shared 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.  Added investigator Andrea Warner-Czyz, Ph.D. “Friendships are important to most young people, but I believe they are especially important to children with hearing loss. 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.”

Hearing loss among youth goes largely unaddressed. Is a hearing test on your checklist? Call us to schedule complimentary hearing screenings for the whole family today!

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