1 in 3 Kids with Food Allergies are Bullied

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Imagine a child with a life-threatening peanut allergy being chased around the playground by a bully brandishing a peanut butter sandwich. It’s more common than you think.

According to a Mount Sinai study, 1 in 3 kids with food allergies are bullied, taunted, and even physically threatened at school.

kids with food allergies are bullied

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In the study of 251 children and their parents, 45 percent of children with food allergies reported being bullied, and 31 per cent said the bullying included threats with the source of their allergy. Many were forced to touch the food — or had it thrown at them.

Being bullied made the children feel stressed out and reduced their quality of life far more than the food allergies themselves. But the study also found that nearly half the parents in the study didn’t realize their child was being bullied. In the cases where the parents were aware of the bullying, the child was happier.

The study also explored how kids aren’t the only bullies. Often children with allergies are upset by adults who don’t understand their situation — singled out and made to feel badly because they can’t eat a certain food.

About 1 in 13 children in the U.S. has a food allergy, which works out to roughly two children in every classroom.

Food allergies are no joke. Here’s a great video from FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) about their “It’s Not a Joke” campaign, and here are a few tips on preventing and addressing food allergy bullying:

  • Educate your kids on what bullying is and what to do if they — or a friend or classmate — are bullied. Make sure they know they can tell you about it.
  • Show your kids the proper way to stand up to a bully, like saying “Leave me alone!” with confidence, or just walking away.
  • Recognize the signs of bullying, which include torn clothing or damaged items, unexplained reactions or injuries, avoiding school, headaches or stomachaches, social isolation, or behavior changes
  • Encourage your child to stay with a group of trusted friends in the situations where they are bullied, like the cafeteria or walking to and from school.
  • If your child is being bullied, calmly assure them you are going to help — and speak directly with the school’s teachers and/or administrators

H/T to WebMD and FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education)


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Heather Laura Clarke, a contributing writer at Scratch or Sniff, lives in Nova Scotia, Canada, with her high-school sweetheart husband, seven-year-old son, and five-year-old daughter. She writes for newspapers and magazines across Canada and the U.S., and blogs about her family life at Heather's Handmade Life. Follow her adventures on Twitter or Instagram.

5 Comments to 1 in 3 Kids with Food Allergies are Bullied

  1. Leigh

    I plan to homeschool my child because his food allergies are many and some are severe. It’s awful that bullying is becoming so common. I have food allergies myself and am constantly surprised by the number of adults who do not understand them or even care. I had a person at my office ask me to try crab. When I said no thank you, I was asked why. I explained that I am deathly allergic to shellfish. He laughed and told me that’s crazy and I needed to just “man up” and try it because I could take a Benadryl and be fine. I told him it was not that simple with anaphylactic reactions and he blew me off. For a while I was “the one who is afraid of a little crab.” That’s hard for me to handle and I’m a grown woman who isn’t going to back down to something like that. I can’t imagine what kids go through.

    • Wow, Leigh! I can’t believe someone said that to you! That’s insane.

      Very true that it would be much harder for a child to stand up to those kinds of comments. It’s terrible that there are so many kids with allergies put in that position, isn’t it?

  2. Tiffany

    I hate this, but it is so true!

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