Children with disabilities like hearing loss endure higher rates of bullying, an American study finds. 38.7% of children with hearing loss and 50% of adolescents with hearing loss experience bullying.
Twice as many as the general population
The study compared 7-11 year-old children and 12-18 year-old adolescents with hearing loss with children and adolescents without hearing loss. 50% of adolescents with hearing loss had experienced bullying whereas 28% of adolescents without hearing loss had experienced bullying. 38.7% of the children with hearing loss had experienced bullying compared to 33% of the children without hearing loss. Children with hearing loss had lower rates of being bullied than adolescents with hearing loss.
Types of bullying
Children with hearing loss are at a higher risk of bullying due to being “different” from the general population, the study states. According to the study, more than 25% of adolescents with hearing loss felt left out of social activities whereas only 5% of adolescents without hearing loss felt social exclusion. Adolescents with hearing loss also endured a higher risk of coercion (17.5% of the adolescents) compared to adolescents without hearing loss (3.6%). Other types of bullying included property and verbal damage.
“Sometimes they miss puns or a play on words, or other cues that have to do with humour. Or when something is said very quietly or in a noisy location, the student with hearing loss might miss it. And that can make them feel like an outcast, or it can make them look like an outcast,” said Dr. Andrea Warner-Czyz, researcher of the study and assistant professor in the School of Behavioural and Brain Sciences at the University of Dallas in the US.
The study also examined what the participants thought were the reasons they were bullied. Around 45% did not know why, 20 % said that it was because of their hearing loss or cochlear implant and 20% said that it was because of how they acted or how they looked.
About the study
The study included children and adolescents who use cochlear implants or hearing aids and are enrolled in an educational program. The participants completed the 2009 National Crime Victimization Survey’s School Crime Supplement and the results were compared to national data from children and adolescents in the general population and thereby children and adolescents without hearing loss.
Sources: www.utdallas.edu and “Effect of Hearing Loss on Peer Victimization in School-age Children” in Sage Pub Journals in 2018.