According to recent research, about a third of children with food allergies report being teased or bullied at school because of their allergies. Two separate surveys, the results of which were presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI), found that the prevalence of bullying among kids with food allergies was 29% in New York City, and 34% in Jackson, Mississippi.
According to most of the bullying happened at school, and was perpetrated by classmates and other peers. However, adults – including teachers – were also reported to have teased children with food allergies. The researchers involved in the New York study also reported that parents often had no idea their kids were being bullied at school.
Dr. A. Erika Morris, of the University of Mississippi Medical Center, noted that constant vigilance about food ingredients can mark a child as 'different,' exposing them to harassment. Both her study and the 2010 New York City study documented food allergies as a stigmatizing factor, exposing children to bullying.
Incidents of bullying uncovered by the researchers included verbal taunts, being pushed or tripped, or having allergen-containing food items in the victims' faces.
Have you or your children experienced bullying because of food allergies?