Being Bullied Over Food Allergies

Have you had experiences with your child being bullied because of their allergy? According to one Ontario mother, her son's severe allergy to peanuts was used to scare him at school. CBC News reports that classmates handled peanuts before rubbing their hands on his shoulder.

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Kerri McDonald, whose 7-year-old son Nevin was the target of the bullying, said it took him several weeks to get over the incident. Immediately after his classmates touched him, Nevin came home, panicked, to begin washing his face and arms. His nut allergy is so severe that he carries an EpiPen everywhere in case he accidentally comes into contact with nuts.

Nevin explained the school incident, saying “This boy that was standing beside me whispered in my ear, he touched me on the shoulder, and he said 'I ate nuts for snack,'” With no way to prove whether the classmate had in fact eaten nuts, he had to take the threat seriously. Although he didn't suffer an allergic reaction following the incident, his mother says that it had a long-term effect on him, explaining “For about a month after he was quite nervous that people might touch him and he might get hurt.”

A study of several hundred children with food allergies, which was published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology found that 30 percent of respondents had been teased, bullied, or harassed because of their allergy. Elizabeth Goldenberg, an allergy advocate and lawyer whose own son has a peanut and tree nut allergy, says that such examples of bullying constitute assault. She also says that schools should do more to protect students from allergy bullying.

Have you experienced bullying related to a food allergy?

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