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Kids With Food Allergies Getting Bullied

By Heather Turgeon |

food allergies

Food allergies: bans and bullying

Yesterday, CNN reported that a new study in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology finds kids over the age of 5 with food allergies are being bullied in school.

Threatening to throw peanuts or smear peanut butter, waving granola bars and teasing — 35 percent of kids who have food allergies are either verbally or physically harassed, says the research. An earlier study by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development found that 17 percent of all 6 to 10th graders are bullied, but the number goes up to 50 percent for kids with food allergies.

A CNN poll the same day asked if you support banning peanuts in schools, and wouldn’t you know it – kids with allergies were getting bullied! (virtually, this time).

Some commenters were actually calling allergic kids “weaklings.” While most people aren’t so flat out mean, it does seem like there is a slight contempt for kids with allergies. Why the anger at a non-PB&J eating little person?

Is it because they think kids and their parents are overreacting (as in, “come on, peanut particles are airborne? Give me a break”)? Actually, as Carolyn pointed out recently, it’s true that food allergy cases are exaggerated — a lot of what people think are allergies really turn out to be just bad reactions or food intolerances. Still, we know a significant and rising segment of our kids have legitimate, sometimes deadly allergies to foods.

There’s also an “it’s your fault” (or more like, it’s your parents’ fault) mentality out there. Some of the commenters mentioned research showing that non-exposure to certain foods will increase sensitivity to those foods later on, implying that a child’s diet brought on the problem in the first place.

What do you think? Do you know children with food allergies and do other kids give them a hard time?

Image: Flickr/Chexed

More from Heather Turgeon:

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Genetically Modified Salmon: Why I’m Not Afraid of the “Frankenfish”

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Do it Now: The Perfect 10 Minute Mediation

50 Amazing Naptime Ideas

Concussions and Cars: Why Parents Worry About the Wrong Things.

Why Kids with Language Delays are More Aggressive

Top 10 Pediatric Myths

Non Stick Chemicals Linked to Higher Cholesterol in Kids

Too Many Moms Still Die in Childbirth: Report

Your Baby is About to Get Chubbier: Pediatricians Are Switching Growth Charts.

Doctors Misdiagnosed in all Cases of Infant Death From Whooping Cough

Too Much Pregnancy Weight Sets Up Babies for Obesity

Antipsychotic Medications for Toddlers?

C-Section Twice as Likely When Doctors Induce Labor.

Why I Abandoned the “Readiness” Approach to Potty Training.

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About Heather Turgeon


Heather Turgeon

Heather Turgeon is currently writing the book The Happy Sleeper (Penguin, 2014). She's a therapist-turned-writer who authors the Science of Kids column for Babble. A northeasterner at heart, Heather lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two little ones. Read bio and latest posts → Read Heather's latest posts →

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0 thoughts on “Kids With Food Allergies Getting Bullied

  1. PlumbLucky says:

    Considering the sentiment(s) I have seen and heard expressed by “adults” with regards to any mention of peanut- or nut- or other allergen- free zones, and the sheer contempt in some cases, I am not surprised by this. There is a LOT of misinformation on food allergies. He!!, my own MIL narrowly missed causing me a reaction early one when I was dating my husband…”oh, you can have a little right?”. Uh, yeah, if little = zero. If little != zero, I’m going to take a trip to the ER.

  2. TC says:

    That’s just wrong. :( Bullying is getting out of control. I’m wondering why parents and schools both are failing in teaching kids compassion.

  3. [...] KidsFOXNewsKids with food allergies may be the target of schoolyard bulliesLos Angeles TimesKids With Food Allergies Getting BulliedBabble (blog)TIME -KTVN -healthzone.caall 143 news [...]

  4. Ashley says:

    The good news is that there are a number of states working on anti-bully legislation, so hopefully that will help to change legal ramifications of bullying as well as cultural norms regarding bullying being an expected rite of passage in childhood and young adulthood.


  5. [...] KidsFOXNewsKids with food allergies may be the target of schoolyard bulliesLos Angeles TimesKids With Food Allergies Getting BulliedBabble (blog)TIME -KTVN -healthzone.caall 143 news [...]

  6. JEssica says:

    I think this is the fault of the parents and kid, making your differences known (let’s face it, kids aren’t nice) is like painting a target on yourself. How the kid handles the situation (not the parents, teachers, or anyone else) will dictate if the bullying continues.

  7. [...] him with another man and broadcast the event on the Internet.  We’ve discovered that kids with food allergies are being bullied, and told you about Tyler Wilson, the 11-year-old boy cheerleader who suffered a broken arm at the [...]

  8. Marj says:

    Seems like the kids whose parents make a stink about field trips. They complain to the school, the trip gets canceled, and the kid gets picked on by the other kids who are denied something they wanted. You ban peanut butter sandwiches, and the kids who love them pick on the kids who is allergic because they blame him or her for it.

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