On Being Singled Out

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 Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Austin


    February 10th, 2011 at 1:45 PM

    Good grief how anyone could treat their kids so bad is beyond what I can comprehend.



    February 10th, 2011 at 7:31 PM

    Just imagine-Would you like to be singled out for who you are? Something that you have almost no control over…?! If your answer is no, then please resolve to never do the same to anybody else right from this moment…!

  • Jackie


    February 11th, 2011 at 8:21 PM

    Being treated in a way different from the others in a derogatory manner can be a factor that can really pull down a person’s morale.I would hate to be in such a situation.

  • Olivia


    February 12th, 2011 at 5:40 AM

    Unfortunately for this group of teens they are the squeaky wheel that many cannot tolerate.

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