A six-year-old Utah boy underwent cosmetic surgery after bullies at his school teased him on the size of his ears. Gage Berger, a child in first grade, was often called “elf ears” by classmates—according to Berger’s parents Tim andKallie. Out of fear that being bullied at such a young age would hurt Berger’s mental health in the long-term, his parents decided surgery was the best solution.
But while most of us had to deal with bullies the “old fashioned way” (fight back or simply ignore it), Berger’s parents feel like the operation was worth it to avoid life-long issues.
Speaking to The New York Daily News, plastic surgeon Dr. Tracy Pfeifer notes that it’s “not unusual for a child to have ear surgery at a relatively young age.” Steven J. Pearlman, MD, a facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon, said that the surgery was reasonable decision, pointing out that when children are bullied, “it’s harder to make friends so they become socially stunted. They are also perceived as less intelligent by peers and even adults.”
However, Child and Family Psychologist Dr. Karen Caraballo, finds the choice concerning. While she understands that bullying can have long-term psychological effects, there should be other steps taken before having a child go under the knife. These include ignoring the bullies, finding other activities for the child outside of school, and simply promoting a positive body image.
It’s understandable that Berger’s parents would want to help ease their child’s schoolyard suffering, but this may be a touch too far.