by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
If you had to guess, what percentage of children between the ages of 6 and 19 years of age would you think have noise-induced hearing loss? (Note: this is not hearing loss from causes such as middle ear infections, heredity, etc., but just noise-induced hearing loss.)
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention the answer is 12.5%. This means that approximately 5,200,000 kids in the USA have permanent noise-induced hearing loss (1). It’s shocking to realize that on the average, 1 in every 8 children you meet each day has a significant hearing loss just from listening to sounds that are too loud.
There are two areas of concern.
First, it’s about time parents take an active interest in what their kids are listening to and at what volume. Safe sound levels are a maximum of 80 dB if they are going to listen for any length of time.
Second, teachers need to be aware that at the very minimum 1 out of every 8 of their students have trouble hearing them. Yet I hear so many teachers say they don’t know of any students in their classrooms that have hearing losses.
Now you know. They are there—3 or 4 in the average classroom— in every classroom in the nation. Add to these, the many other children, especially in the lower grades, with hearing loss from ear infections, allergies, etc. One study showed that on any given day, 15% of the children in elementary schools have a significant hearing loss. Consequently, ALL teachers need to practice good hearing-loss coping strategies so their hard of hearing student’s can hear them.
(1) “As Teens Plug In, Parents Fret—Worries are justified, say hearing loss experts who urge prevention” by Kathleen Doheny, HealthDay Reporter, US News & World Report. October 8, 2009.