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?
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