When I think of bullying, I think of the big brutes on the playground giving kids wedgies and playing keep away with their lunch box.
Or, in a more modern sense, I think of cyberbullying. (This form of bullying in particular makes me shudder, since content on the Internet can have far-reaching and devastating consequences, especially for kids who haven't yet realized the meanings of privacy and over-sharing.)
Call me naive, but I never thought of food allergies as a basis for bullying.
If you've got a kid, or know somebody, with food allergies (and you most likely do), you know how serious they can be. For some kids, the mere touch of a peanut or whiff of a nut particle can send them to the hospital with anaphylaxis, or in extremely severe cases, be fatal.
And apparently, the big brutes who used to give wedgies and steal lunches now think it's funny to torment these kids. In a survery conducted by the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), 79 percent of kids with food allergies reported being bullied, teased, or harassed because of it.
Among those 79 percent, 57 percent reported events of being touched with the allergen, or having it waved at or thrown at them.
The bullying and tormenting is most likely the result of ignorance. Many bullies probably don't know how serious a food allergy can be, and likely do it because they think it's funny, or to feel as though they have control (I.e. classic bullying).
In any case, it's important to talk to your child about any kind of bullying, and to teach them how to stand up to anyone who may be harassing them. Check out some of these resources to get the conversation started:
- 8 Effective Ways to Bully-Proof Your Child
- The "Mean Chicks" Phenomenon
- Bullying and Your Child: Can the Law Protect Him?
- 5 Things You Should Do Before Your Child Joins Social Media Sites
- Support for Gay Teens Facing Homophobia and Bullying
- More Bullying Resources for Parents and Kids
Tell us-- has your child ever been the victim of a bully? Or, has your child ever bullied another child? Has either ever been related to food allergies? How have you dealt with it? Weigh in!