Review Article

Childhood Bullying and One Way to Keep your Kids Out of the Statistics: Non-Surgical Interventions for Congenital Ear Deformities

Author: Danielle Levin

Bullying is quickly emerging as one of the most crucial issues in our school systems, affecting nearly one out of every three children. Many victims [1] of childhood bullying suffer from depression, persistently low self esteem and subordination to others [2]. Bullying can fracture children’s home life as well; documented discrepancies exist between depressed and non-depressed children’s perceptions of their family. Depressed children tend to perceive their mothers as providing less care [3], precluding healthy mother child bonding. It is therefore critical that bullying be addressed early within the family structure to mitigate its adverse effects on familial bonding. While there are various forms of bullying, this paper focuses on childhood appearance-based bullying. Children with ear deformities are placed at high risk of bullying later in life due to their anatomical abnormalities and associated physical appearance; defects such as prominent ears provoke embarrassment, ridicule, and ultimately emotional stress [4]. Bullying, which the National School and Safety Center considers to be the most enduring and underrated problem in the United States, has specifically been associated with cosmetic ear deformities such as prominent, cup, and Stahl’s ears [1]. When Cooper-Hobson et al surveyed all children from the ages of 5-16 undergoing otoplasty from 1999-2003, 41% of them reported bullying as their primary surgical motivation [4]. A landmark 1992 article similarly found high rates of ridicule among children with cosmetic ear defects. 88% of children reported teasing, with 55% reporting concurrent depression and 52% of the entire sample reporting increased anxiety due to the ear deformity. In order to increase children’s social integration expecting parents [5] must be aware of the effective cosmetic interventions available. Existing non-surgical auricular repair techniques are currently underutilized due to lack of knowledge regarding available options amongst parents and doctors.