It's tough enough having to avoid products with peanuts and other ingredients as a kid with severe food allergies. It's tougher when someone at school waves a Reese's Cup in your face at the peanut-free lunch table. Allergist Gerald Lee has some suggestions on how to spot this new type of bullying, and what parents can do about it.
Bullying and Food Allergies
Children who are bullied because of food allergies must deal with the emotional toll of bullying as well as the need to keep up with their medical needs.
Documented examples of Bullying
· A middle school student found peanut butter cookie crumbs in her lunchbox
· A high school student's forehead was smeared with peanut butter
Frequency of Bullying
· 86 percent of those who reported bullying reported multiple episodes
· Verbal abuse was the most common form
· 57 percent reported being touched or harassed by the actual food allergen.
· 82 percent occurred at school, 80 percent among classmates
· 21 percent reported teachers or school staff as perpetrators
· 79 percent said harassments was related to food allergy; others reported harassment for having to carry medication for their allergy
What Can Parents Do?
· Learn your child's school's bullying policies and procedures.
· Keep the school informed. Early identification of potential bullies and victims is critical to stop the cycle of bullying and to prevent harmful or even fatal outcomes.
· A child with mood or school performance problems due to bullying or victimization should be referred to a mental health professional experienced in dealing with such problems.
· When the bullying involves food allergies, collaboration among the allergist, the mental health professional, the family and the patient's school is necessary for effective intervention.
Gerald Lee, M.D.
University Allergy and Immunology (an adult and pediatric practice of UofL Pediatrics)
210 E. Gray St., Ste. 1000
Louisville, KY 40202
For info: Click here