Kids with food allergies have reportedly been targeted by bullies who have stuffed peanut butter cookies in lockers and otherwise put them in danger of suffering an allergic reaction.
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), nearly 80 percent of children with food allergies say they have been bullied because of their allergy, and 57 percent report that bullies have intentionally harassed or touched them with peanuts or other food allergens.
Dr. Stanley Fineman, president of the ACAAI, commented, “Food allergies are serious and shouldn’t be taken lightly in schools, especially when it comes to bullying.”
A 2010 study published in the ACAAI scientific journalAnnals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunologyfound that 80 percent of food allergy-related bullying incidents occur at school. These incidents include verbal taunts or knowingly making students come into contact with an allergen.
According to the ACAAI, warning signs that your child may be being targeted by bullies include: signs of depression; fear of going to school; changes in eating habits, sleep patterns, or behavior; not eating lunch at school; or bringing home a full lunchbox.
What to do About Bullies
If you suspect that your child is being targeted by bullies, make sure that his or her school and teachers are aware of the allergy. Children should also know to tell an adult if they are being bullied for any reason. If you suspect that your child is being bullied over food allergies, inform the school immediately.