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Allergies Health Center

Kids With Food Allergies Targets for Bullies

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1 in 3 Kids With Allergies Bullied continued...

The parents and children were surveyed separately to discern whether the children had been bullied about food allergies or for other causes.

In all, 45% of the children and 36% of the parents reported that bullying had occurred, and 31% of children and 25% of parents reported that the bullying had included threats with food.

Close to 1 in 3 bullied children had been taunted with the food they were allergic to, 12% had been forced to touch it, and 10% had had it thrown at them. More than half of the incidents occurred at school.

The study was published online today in the journal Pediatrics.

Adults Bully, Too

Study co-author Scott Sicherer, MD, who is chief of the pediatric allergy division at Mount Sinai, says kids aren’t the only ones who bully children with food allergies.

Adults who don’t understand food allergies often added to the stresses of children who have them by singling them out, often in the school setting.

“They may say, 'We’re having a class party, but we can’t have this food or that food because of Billy’s allergies,'” he says.

Morgan Smith’s mom Nicole remembers the PTA meeting where a classmate’s mother announced that she was sick of all the nonsense about peanut allergies and ‘peanut free zones.’

“She said she was bringing peanut butter cookies for field day and she didn’t care what anybody thought about it,” Nicole Smith says. “I just sat back and watched as another parent whose son was in Cub Scouts with mine got up said ‘I can’t believe you would do something that would put other people’s children at risk.’ I didn’t have to say a word.”

Another incident involved a parent who insisted that her fifth grader’s mid-morning snack had to be a Snickers bar, even though all the classrooms were peanut-free.

“The principal told her if that was the case, she had to bring a note from her son’s doctor,” Smith says.

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