Why do we Bully People who cannot hear us?

For starters, bullying most often occurs when adults are not watching. It happens online with social media or email, or texting. It happens in private places where those who bully are most powerful and most vulnerable. It is up to all of us to help the hearing-impaired just like we would any other person.

Statistics Don’t Lie

In 2018 the University of Texas found that adolescents with hearing loss endured a significantly higher incidence of bullying versus the general population (50.0% vs. 28.0%), particularly for exclusion (26.3% vs. 4.7%) and coercion (17.5% vs. 3.6%). Children younger than 12 years with hearing loss reported lower rates of bullying (38.7%) than adolescents with hearing loss, but rates did not differ significantly. The author of the study, Dr. Andrew Warner-Cryz, revealed: “I thought more children 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.”

How would you feel?

A 2013 Gallaudet study on bullying and school climate found that 812 deaf and hard of hearing students in eleven U.S. schools reported instances of bullying at rates 2-3 times higher than reported by attending students. Deaf and hard-of-hearing students said that school personnel were less likely to intervene when bullying was reported. The study examined perspectives among deaf and hard-of-hearing students in residential and large day schools regarding bullying and compared these perspectives with those of a national database of hearing students. The participants were 812 deaf and hard of hearing students in 11 U.S. schools. Significant bullying problems were found in deaf school programs. Results indicate the need for school climate improvement for all students, regardless of hearing status.

Research that Matters

“I know how to handle bullying in my classroom!” may be a battle cry from experienced and successful teachers alike. But the landscape of bullying has changed. For starters, bullying most often occurs when adults are not watching. It happens online with social media, email, and texting. It happens in private places where those who bully are most powerful, and those who are re threatened are most vulnerable. Even more significantly, current research on bullying targets a high incidence of bullying in the deaf/hard of hearing student population. Traditional approaches to modify and end bullying behaviors and methods and curricula for teaching social skills need an update.
Studies on the frequency of bullying with deaf and hard of hearing students – a jolting reality.

Two Different Studies Verifying the Above statistics.

A 2018 study by Van den Bedem, N.P., published in the International Journal of Language and Communicative Disorders, found that students who had lower language abilities were more vulnerable to victimization. This happened when they lacked understanding of their own emotions, levels of anger, sadness, and fear. Another red flag for teachers of the deaf and hard of hearing whose students may lack self-esteem, feel isolated, or different from the larger population of hearing students.

A 2013 Gallaudet study on bullying and school climate found that 812 deaf and hard of hearing students in eleven U.S. schools reported instances of bullying at rates 2-3 times higher than reported by attending students. Deaf and hard-of-hearing students said that school personnel are less likely to intervene when bullying was reported. The study examined perspectives among deaf and hard-of-hearing students in residential and large day schools regarding bullying and compared these perspectives with those of a national database of hearing students. The participants were 812 deaf and hard of hearing students in 11 U.S. schools. Significant bullying problems were found in deaf school programs. Results indicate the need for school climate improvement for all students, regardless of hearing status.

It’s never OK to bully anyone

According to Support Success for Children with Hearing loss, the story of a deaf high school student in Nebraska was reported on television news. Students had taken his backpack during a lunch period and dumped it in a toilet. Contained inside were his tablet, school supplies, homework, debit card, and his cochlear implant. The student, Alexis Hernandez, reported: “Those students think it’s OK to bully a deaf student, but it’s not. It’s not OK to bully someone who is disabled, deaf, or hard of hearing. Or anyone for that matter.” Incidents of “put downs,” teasing, rummaging in school bags or desks, and stealing among students in an urban program for deaf/hard of hearing students give further anecdotal support. In one story, the teacher reports to the administration of teasing a deaf student about his speech, and hearing aids went unheeded until parents called the principal directly. After all, the principal had reasoned, there had been no physical harm.