I know I have written on this subject before, but I think it bears repeating, especially with the latest news on the subject. A 13 year old in Kentucky is charged with felony wanton endangerment after allegedly putting crumbled peanut butter cookies into the lunch of a student who is allergic to peanuts. The student who is allergic to peanuts did not eat any of the food and luckily suffered no physical effects.
Did the student know what the affects could possibly be? What were the reasons? Did the student want the worst to happen, or was it a dare, a joke? Who knows, but any way it’s quite scary. Wanton endangerment is a serious charge, even for a juvenile. According to an article on cbsnews.com, a person is charged with felony, or first-degree, wanton endangerment when someone is suspected of engaging in conduct that causes the danger of death or physical injury to another person, according to state legal statutes. This student has been removed from school and will face charges in the juvenile criminal system.
Is felony charge too severe? Was a life endangered? Was it done on purpose? What about bullies using weapons like knives or guns or fists? Is peanut butter just as dangerous for someone with a peanut allergy? A slew of questions arise with this incident, and it could be ground breaking in the awareness and safety department of allergies.
After reading about the teen years being the most dangerous time for those with food allergies, here is proof. It shows how allergies need to be taken seriously. I remember when my daughter was first diagnosed another parent told me how his daughter was teased at her elementary school with nuts by some classmates. I was shocked that kids would/could do this. But obviously they can and they will.
Just like in any other case of bullying, kids need to learn how wrong it is. Sometimes no matter how much is taught against it, it will still happen. But by teaching empowerment and through education of all students, perhaps bullying will not be so effective. Also severe punishments can be a good deterrent! Just like FAAN is trying to instill, by teaching non-allergic friends about allergies, support systems grow and allergic kids don’t have to be so on their own.
It’s also important for the schools and parents to step in and let students know that these bullying actions are severe and inappropriate, and will be dealt with accordingly. Bullying is wrong, no matter what the medium is.
For some reactions to this incident, take a look at peanutfree.blogspot.com.