When children or teens are singled out and mistreated during their early years, it’s not uncommon for the psychological fallout to last well into adulthood. If parents are aware of the problem and find a child psychotherapist or youth counselor for their son or daughter, there’s hope of recovery—after all, the young can be very resilient. But sometimes, children are singled out in ways adults might not expect. Recently, new research has shed light on the experiences of two different groups of youth: deaf and hard of hearing children, and lesbian, gay and bisexual teens.
Those outside the deaf community may imagine integration and social acceptance to be the hardest challenge facing deaf and hard-of-hearing youth, especially if they’re the exception in a family or school of hearing individuals. That may very well be the case, but researchers at the Rochester Institute of Technology have identified another challenge. Their research finds that abuse and maltreatment rates are higher among deaf and hard-of-hearing children than they are among hearing youth. This includes neglect, physical and sexual abuse, and maltreatment—and it correlates to a higher rate of depression, PTSD, and negative thoughts about self and others.
With regard to lesbian, gay and bisexual teens, much attention has been given to bullying and peer harassment. But the Center for Research on Inequalities and the Life Course at Yale has found that LGB adolescents are likely to be singled out by adults as well. In a seven-year study of 15,000 middle and high school students, LGB youth reported lower rates of misbehavior than their straight peers, yet experienced a stunning 40% higher rate in punishment of all forms: school expulsions, police stops, arrest, juvenile convictions, and adult convictions. The research done in each of these studies is of vast importance: it sheds light on the experiences that these minority youth populations may be experiencing, which can help therapists and counselors who work with them as teens and adults. But it also highlights previously undocumented maltreatment and harm at the hands of others, a first step that will hopefully lead to awareness and reduction campaigns in the future.
© Copyright 2011 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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