According to a 2013 study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, food allergies among children have increased by about 50%. According to Food Allergy Research & Education, a non-profit organization, one in every thirteen children in the United States has a food allergy.
Parents of children who have food allergies take every precaution to prevent their children from being exposed to the food allergen, such as peanuts, tree nuts, shell fish, etc. Parents naturally want to protect their children and may think their jobs are limited to preventing accidental exposure. However, bullying of children with food allergies is a serious problem. Many parents are horrified to find out that their child is being bullied because of a food allergy.
In a 2011 study reported in the journal Pediatrics, about 1/2 of the 251 food allergic children reported that they were being bullied, and 1/3 of these children were bullied because of their food allergies.
Not only do the children suffer life-threatening allergies, they may also be a target for bullying.
When many people, including kids, hear that someone has a food allergy, they may think that the person may just break out in hives and don’t realize their allergy may be life-threatening.
Bullying increases the chances that a child will suffer from withdrawal, depression or anxiety disorders. However, for children with severe food allergies, there may be a more serious ramification when they are bullied.
Bullying for a child with a food allergy may actually be life-threatening because the threats and acts often involve the food the child is allergic to. A bully may crumble up peanut butter crackers and put it in the hair of a child who has a severe peanut allergy.
What To Do If Your Child Is Bullied
It is important for parents to be involved if they suspect that their child is being bullied because of a food allergy. Just because children don’t tell their parents that they are being bullied doesn’t mean they are not.
In another study of children with food allergies and their parents, parents only knew about the bullying half of the time. So it is important for parents to talk to their children about what happens at school and social activities on a daily basis.
Regardless of whether a child is bullied or not, it is still a good idea for parents to talk to the school about bullying polices. Ask the school administrator about what would be done if bullying occurs due to a child’s food allergy.
Do not ignore the bullying. Parents should not tell their children to ignore the bullying, tell them to stand up for themselves by using words. In addition, they need to inform a teacher or school employee about the bullying.
Parents themselves also need to talk to the school about the bullying.
Sometimes bullying may rise to the level of harassment or assault, which can result in legal consequences for the bully. It is important to talk to authorities if injury results from the bullying. In addition, if the school knows about the bullying, but does nothing to stop the bullying, it may be held responsible if a child is injured due to the bullying.
Related Food Allergy Lawsuit Case Result - An accidental exposure food allergy case settles favorably for a client who is allergic to mushrooms.
Why Bullying Happens
So why do children/teens bully kids with food allergies? Many times children who bully kids with food allergies are not educated about food allergies and consequences. They do not know that an allergy can be life-threatening.
Therefore, parents need to talk to their children about food allergies. This includes parents who do not have children with food allergies. Because food allergies in children are on the rise, the odds are good that children without food allergies will either know someone with a food allergy or attend a school with food allergy policies.
For instance, a school may have a designated table for kids with a peanut allergy during lunch time. It is important for parents to talk to their children about why there is a separate table. It does not make them odd or different. It is to prevent them from getting a severe allergic reaction if exposed to peanuts.
Other schools may ban peanuts altogether. Parents at these schools may complain in front of their children about how it is inconvenient not being able to pack peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for their children. It is talk like this that plants a seed in a young child’s mind that a food allergy is inconvenient for other people and may lead the child to make fun of a child with a food allergy. Therefore, adults/parents must be cognizant of how serious food allergies can be and talk to their children about it.
If you or a loved one was exposed to a food allergen due to the negligence of a restaurant, bar, school, etc., you have legal rights. Call our personal injury lawyers who are licensed in PA and NJ to schedule a FREE consultation. 877.944.8396
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