Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

Bedouin Hearing Parents of Children with Hearing Loss: Stress, Coping, and Quality of Life

Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

Bedouin Hearing Parents of Children with Hearing Loss: Stress, Coping, and Quality of Life

Article excerpt

TO BRING up a child with a disability, particularly a child with partial or total hearing loss, parents must develop mechanisms for coping and adjustment. Developing these mechanisms is more difficult when the family's environmental circumstances are harsh, such as those of the Bedouin inhabitants of the Negev, in southern Israel, who are the focus of the present study. The lack of access to information and the lack of public transportation, among other factors, increase the stress of parenting. Previous studies have found a relation between parenting stress and coping strategies, on the one hand, and satisfaction with the family's quality of life, on the other. Our study examines whether the same relation holds in this vulnerable and underserved population.

The Bedouins in Israel are an indigenous people, made up of several tribes, undergoing state-imposed processes of change, including forced urbanization. Among the ramifications of these changes is the loss of traditional support systems. Another outcome is a lack of trust in the support services provided by state institutions, including health services, which have not invested in understanding the cultural codes and language of the Bedouins and adapting the services to their needs.

One way in which the Bedouins are trying to cope with the changes is the strict preservation of some traditional practices, including endogamous marriage (that is, marriage within the tribe). This may contribute to the higher incidence of congenital illnesses than occurs among the general population. The incidence of hearing loss in some tribes is among the highest in the world. The processes of change have also sidelined Bedouin women by depriving them of their traditional economic roles and making them the main caregivers of their children while the husbands—the primary wage-earners—go out to work.

In studying the Bedouins of southern Israel, our aim is to shed light on how vulnerable populations, including traditional societies and indigenous peoples that are undergoing processes of change, cope with raising a child with hearing loss (Allassad Alhuzail, 2016). We also aim to suggest ways in which these groups might be helped.

Literature Review

Children With Disabilities in the Arab Bedouin Population in the Negev

Arab Bedouins in the Negev constitute a subgroup of the Arab minority in Israel, with unique cultural, historical, social, and political characteristics that distinguish it from the country's other population groups (Meir, 1997). They are the indigenous inhabitants of the Negev region; at the end of the 1940s, their number was estimated at between 65,000 and 90,000 (Allassad Alhuzail, 2016). When the State of Israel was established in 1948, most of the Bedouins in the Negev fled or were exiled to neighboring Arab countries, and only about 11,000 remained. In 2008, the Bedouins of the Negev numbered about 180,000. Because their natural rate of population growth is about 5.0%–5.5% per year, it is estimated that their population will almost double by 2020 (Allassad Alhuzail, 2012; Ben-David, 2004; Bystrov & Sofer, 2007, 2010).

The Negev Bedouins live on the country's periphery, mainly in eight Bedouin local authorities and two regional authorities that are recognized by the state (Robert Arnow Center for Bedouin Studies and Development, 2010). However, about 80,000 live in villages unrecognized by the state, where there is a severe shortage of essential services and infrastructure, such as running water, electricity, paved roads, telecommunication, and sewage systems, as well as educational, health, and social services (Allassad Alhuzail, 2013; Bystrov & Sofer, 2010).

The Bedouin population in the Negev has a particularly high percentage of children with disabilities, including children with hearing loss (Kisch, 2007). According to a study conducted by Strossberg, Neon, and Ziv (2008), 9.1% of all Bedouin children have disabilities, but this is probably an underestimate because of problems with diagnosis and awareness, as well as some parents' choice to conceal certain disabilities for fear that their children will be stigmatized by their society. …

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