Posted by Christina Jedra March 21, 2013 10:00 AM
The following was submitted by Loleata Wigall, Atlantic Audiology:
Bullying seems to be commonplace today. To bully someone is to abuse them in some way. A bully has contempt for another person and does not respect that person. Children with hearing loss are more likely to be bullied than children with normal hearing. A child with a hearing loss who wears hearing aids or has a cochlear implant may be considered different.
According to a study in Sweden, between one in five hearing impaired students were victims of bullying. Children who are bullied may suffer from low self-esteem.
Barbara Coloroso is the author of “The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander” (2004). This book is a study of bullying from the different perspectives. It is important to teach children the difference between ordinary meanness and bullying behavior. However, children with hearing loss can be at a greater risk than other children. And, bullying behavior should be reported to the school officials and parents. Children who are being bullied usually give parents signs such as not wanting to go to school. Children may report that certain classmates are mean to them. These reports should be taken seriously.
In Chicago a nine year old boy’s cochlear implant was ripped from his head and left on the playground. The cochlear implant costs about $45,000. A cochlear implant is a device surgically implanted into the head of a deaf individual. This device allows the wearer to hear speech and sounds. However, it does not give the wearer normal hearing.
There are reports that some teens with hearing loss are refusing to wear their hearing aids at school for fear of being bullied, or as a result of already being bullied by classmates. Students with hearing loss who are not wearing their hearing aids are at a greater risk of failing in school since they are not hearing what is being said by the teachers and their classmates.
School officials can invite an audiologist to talk to the students about hearing aids and hearing loss. Hopefully, with a greater understanding of hearing loss and its implications, bullying will be minimized or eliminated. Some school systems have an educational audiologist on staff. These individuals are a great resource to the school community to teach other staff and students about hearing aids and cochlear implants. If an audiologist is not on staff, the school can invite an audiologist to address the students.