In one survey of 353 food allergic individuals, most under 25, nearly one fourth experienced being bullied because of their food allergy.
Of those who were bullied, 86 percent endured multiple occurrences, primarily from classmates while at school. Though the most common form of bullying is verbal abuse, 56 percent reported being threatened with allergen contamination such as having an allergen waved in front of them, thrown at them, or actually being put on their clothes or skin.
While most of those bullied were harassed solely because of their allergy (79 percent), others were bullied for carrying medication related to their food allergy. Thankfully, none of the survey respondents had a reaction owed to the bullying.
Basic Guidelines For Kids
Though steps are being taken at many schools to prevent bullying, we still need to prepare our kids to handle these situations should they arise. Five basic guidelines we can give our children are:
- If you are being bullied, look at the person bullying you and in a clear, calm voice tell them to stop, such as saying, “Stop it,” or “Stop bullying me.”
- If you are being bullied and it seems too difficult to speak, just walk away - and stay away. If necessary, find an adult to help you.
- Don’t keep your feelings about being bullied inside. Talk to adults that you trust. It will help you feel less alone, and an adult can help you make a plan to end the bullying.
- Avoid areas where bullying takes place.
- Since most bullying happens when adults aren’t present, stay near adults and other kids.
Prevent Bullying App
To help families deal with bullying, SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) has developed an app called KnowBullying. It features conversation starters to help you have meaningful talks with your kids, tips for preventing bullying, and how to recognize whether your child is engaged in bullying, or is being bullied.
The KnowBullying app has a conversation reminder feature, links to social media, and a section designed for educators. KnowBullying is available at your smartphone app store, and it’s free. Learn more about it using the SAMHSA link below.