In my soon-to-be-published memoir, Confessions of a Lip Reading Mom, I encountered someone who wasn’t too kind about my hearing loss…
As we drove away from the church, I closed my eyes and listened to the sounds. With the window cracked, I heard moving cars coming from the nearby highway. That sound had been deaf to my ears without hearing aids in them. Deep in my purse, I had buried those aids. I never wanted to wear them again.
“Idiot.” It was a child’s voice. “Stupid mom.”
I opened my eyes and watched as Nicklaus, sitting beside me, spouted off these words. His tiny voice was not only audible to my ears, but annoying in its high pitch.
I grabbed hold of his arm.
“You listen to me,” I said in my mean mom voice. “I’d better never, ever hear you say that again. Do you understand?”
Yes, my own child teased me because I couldn’t hear well. And I am not alone. According to my research, hearing loss bullying is a phenomenon that affects people of all ages.
A Teen’s Worst Nightmare
Sixteen-year-old Michael (not his real name) has been physically attacked at school because of his hearing loss. Michael thinks he’s small for his age; a 13-year-old sister towers over him. He wears glasses and hearing aids, due to the partial deafness he’s had since birth.
The bullying began in sixth grade when several students stole his stuff at school and threw it at him.
“I think it’s mainly people think people with hearing aids are weaker than others,” Michael says. “In my case I’m very shy and don’t talk a lot. I’ve lived it for so long. All kinds, too—cyber, verbal, and a little physical.”
Kids at School Bully Hard of Hearing Mom
Jacqueline (not her real name) has banned certain boys from coming home from school with her son. One of these boys called Jacqueline “retarded” because of her profound hearing loss.
“The bully … was excluding my son from online games as well as social events for about two months,” Jacqueline says. “It was really sad that my son was rejected from even lifelong friends. Then when I caught the bully moving our portable basketball goal out of whack, I asked him to put the heavy basketball goal back in place. He went to school and told a lot of people I was retarded. He lied to me about being the one who moved the basketball goal, but he did it in front of his little sister who told on him.”
The day after the bully’s parents were told of the incident, Jacqueline was notified of an anonymous student reported through the school’s website report bullying link that the bully called Jacqueline “retarded” in front of a lot of students on the school property.
Another time some boys spent the night and talked about Jacqueline behind her back. Later, she was told one of the boys said she was retarded.
“These boys are no longer welcomed in our home,” Jacqueline says. “Some teens are just mean.”
Can You Relate?
In the coming weeks, I hope to further explore the troubling phenomenon of hearing loss bullying. Not only will I share about others who have been targeted, but I will include ways to protect yourself or loved one from a bullying attack. If you or someone you know is currently being bullied, I encourage you to immediately talk to a trusted adult or call 9-1-1.
Have you or someone you know experienced bullying because of hearing loss? Please comment below. Should your bullying experiences be noted in future blog posts, I will change names to protect privacy.