This frightening trend could endanger your kids
One or two students in every classroom, or eight percent of children in the U.S., have a food allergy.
More than 40 percent of them have experienced a severe or life-threatening reaction. That’s why food allergy bullying is so dangerous.
It is happening all over the country, often in schools. Children and adolescents are being threatened by their peers. Outside Pittsburgh last week, three teenagers were charged with intentionally exposing a classmate to pineapple, despite knowing she had an allergy to the fruit.
The student had to receive immediate treatment. And a 7-year-old Utah boy came home in tears after his classmates threatened to make him eat peanuts—knowing he was severely allergic. Others report having food thrown at them.
These incidents are not rare. A recent study by Mount Sinai Medical Center found that nearly one-third of kids with a food allergy have experienced it.
“This is a very frightening trend that we’ve seen here in our local school districts as well,” says Dr. Sai Nimmagadda, a pediatric allergist at Advocate Children’s Hospital. “These bullies need to know that they could actually cause serious harm by forcing another child to eat something they are allergic to. An allergic reaction can threaten a child’s life.”
“The school environment should be a place of safety, and no child should experience any form of bullying. The emotional aspects of food bullying can lead to serious psychological effects if not discovered and treated early on.”
There are also other serious consequences; the teens in Pittsburgh are now facing felony criminal charges as a result of their antics.
“I’d suggest all parents have a conversation about this at the dinner table, “says Dr. Nimmagadda. “What seems like harmless fun can turn dangerous quickly. We just need to make sure children and teens understand the repercussions before someone gets seriously hurt.”
About the Author
Evonne Woloshyn, health enews contributor, is director of public affairs at Advocate Children's Hospital. Evonne began her career as an anchor and reporter in broadcast news. Over the past 20 years, she has worked in health care marketing in both Ohio and Illinois. Evonne loves to travel, spend time with family and is an avid Pittsburgh Steelers fan!