Children with hearing loss face more bullying

April 16, 2018, University of Texas at Dallas

New UT Dallas research indicates that children and adolescents with hearing loss experience higher rates of peer victimization, or bullying, than children with typical hearing.

In the study, approximately 50 percent of the adolescents with hearing loss said they were picked on in at least one way in the past year. Previous studies show about 28 percent of adolescents in the general population report being bullied.

"I thought more and adolescents with hearing loss would report getting picked on, but I did not expect the rates to be twice as high as the general population," said Dr. Andrea Warner-Czyz, an assistant professor in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences and a researcher at the Callier Center for Communication Disorders.

The study, which appears in the journal Exceptional Children, showed the type of bullying experienced by youth and adolescents with hearing loss mimics patterns in children with other special needs, with significantly higher rates of social exclusion.

More than one-fourth of adolescents with hearing loss indicated they felt left out of social activities, compared to only 5 percent of the reporting exclusion. 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.

Researchers conducted an online survey of 87 children and adolescents ages 7 to 18 who wear cochlear implants or for hearing loss. If they indicated they were picked on at all, the survey automatically generated follow-up questions on how often it occurred and why they thought they were targeted.

Approximately 45 percent said they did not know why, 20 percent said it was because of their hearing loss or cochlear implant, and 20 percent said it was because of how they looked or how they acted.

Based on information provided by parents and from other studies, Warner-Czyz said the problems with peers might reflect communication difficulties related to auditory skills.

"Sometimes they miss puns or a play on words, or other cues that have to do with humor. 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," she said.

Alternatively, she said peer problems might indicate a broader issue of not recognizing social cues from conversation or distinguishing true friendship from acquaintances.

Researchers have previously said having at least one good friend is a protective factor against bullying. Most children in this study cited several or lots of friends, but anecdotal reports from parents and clinicians questioned the veracity of these .

"Friendships are important to most young people, but I believe they are especially important for children with loss," said Warner-Czyz. "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."

She said future research will delve more deeply into the reasons behind differences in friendship quality and in children and adolescents with to guide evidence-based, targeted therapeutic intervention and potentially contribute to effective anti-bullying programs geared toward children with special needs. She said these factors might go beyond individual youth characteristics to include a microsystem of school and home settings.

The research is part of a larger study exploring the quality of life in children and adolescents with .

Explore further: High prevalence of hearing loss seen after infant heart surgery

More information: Andrea D. Warner-Czyz et al. Effect of Hearing Loss on Peer Victimization in School-Age Children, Exceptional Children (2018). DOI: 10.1177/0014402918754880

Related Stories

High prevalence of hearing loss seen after infant heart surgery

March 5, 2018
(HealthDay)—The prevalence of hearing loss in preschool children who had heart surgery in infancy may be above 20 percent, according to a study published in the January issue of The Journal of Pediatrics.

Hearing loss among U.S. adolescents is not increasing

November 9, 2017
(HealthDay)—Hearing loss among U.S. adolescents seems not to be increasing, according to a study published online Nov. 8 in Pediatrics.

Undernourished kids may face hearing problems later on

March 6, 2018
(HealthDay)—Poor nutrition in early childhood may make hearing loss more likely in adulthood, a new study suggests.

For children with cochlear implants, oral communication may provide better outcomes (Update)

June 12, 2017
In a new, multisite study of deaf children with cochlear implants, UT Dallas researchers have found that children with either no exposure or limited exposure to sign language end up with better auditory, speaking and reading ...

Few parents believe their teens are at risk of hearing loss

November 22, 2013
(HealthDay)—Few parents of adolescents believe their children are at risk of hearing loss, according to a study published online Nov. 21 in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.

Recommended for you

One in four U.S. adults sits more than eight hours a day

November 20, 2018
(HealthDay)—Couch Potato Nation: Nearly half of Americans sit for far too many hours a day and don't get any exercise at all, a new study finds.

Teen personality traits linked to risk of death from any cause 50 years later

November 20, 2018
Personality traits evident as early as the teenage years may be linked to a heightened or lessened risk of death around 50 years later, suggests observational research of 'baby boomers,' published online in the Journal of ...

Sugar-sweetened beverages are harmful to health and may be addictive, researchers suggest

November 20, 2018
Just as we might have guessed, those tasty, sugar-sweetened beverages that increase risk of diabetes and other chronic diseases may actually be addictive. Youth between 13 and 18 years of age who were deprived of sugary drinks ...

Emotional abuse may be linked with menopause misery

November 19, 2018
Smoking, obesity and a sedentary lifestyle have long been linked to heightened symptoms of menopause. Now, a study headed by UC San Francisco has identified another factor that may add to menopause torment: an emotionally ...

How AI could help veterinarians code their notes

November 19, 2018
A team led by scientists at the School of Medicine has developed an algorithm that can read the typed-out notes from veterinarians and predict specific diseases that the animal may have.

Bullying and violence at work increases the risk of cardiovascular disease

November 19, 2018
People who are bullied at work or experience violence at work are at higher risk of heart and brain blood vessel problems, including heart attacks and stroke, according to the largest prospective study to investigate the ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.