I remember reading an article a while ago about in England who was bullied due to a food allergy. I was shocked. But then it happened in my area, a minor incident, but bullying all the same. And bullying not only falls under the category of teasing with a certain food that is dangerous, but also teasing because of the allergy and making fun of alternate foods.
Bullying in any form is a horrible, horrible thing. If only we could tell our children none of it matters, in a few years none of this will matter. But it matters, and it matters greatly to them if it is happening to them, or if they are seeing it happen.
According to a new study published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, about 35 percent of children over age 5 with food allergies have experienced bullying, teasing or harassment. The study, which mostly surveys the parents of these children, said those negative social experiences, which included physical and verbal incidents, happened because of food allergies.
The warning signs are similar to other forms of bullying, Gina Clowes director of allergymoms.com and a coach for parents on food allergies, said: A child may appear sad, upset, withdrawn, anxious or say that he or she doesn’t want to go to school. But parents should also look for changes in their kids’ eating habits: They may come home with an untouched lunchbox, for example.
“I’ve had parents say kids go the entire day without eating because they’re being made fun of for special foods,” Clowes said.
If your child says he hates school, find out why. If he appears withdrawn or sad, worried or scared, investigate. In a recent study, it was shown that 50% of kids from grades six to ten with food allergies report to having experienced bullying, teasing or harassment, whereas in that age group without allergies, the number of children who report being bullied is 17%. Yes, 17% is way to high, but the fact that the number almost triples in regard to food allergies is very frightening.
Experts say children should try to stay away from the kids who bully and stay with trusted friends, sometimes not so easy. Parents need to stay attuned and report incidents to administrators.
There are so many things to worry about as parents, and when our kids have allergies or other health issues, it’s even worst. Throw bullying in there, and sometimes you just want to keep them home. But we can’t, but we can always be there for them and listen to make sure they are alright.