Food allergy organization educates on ‘food allergy bullying’ in American schools
This week, May 12-18, is Food Allergy Awareness Week and national advocate for people with food allergies, the Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) is trying to promote awareness of an ever growing issue in our schools–food allergy bullying.
According to an email from FARE today, “Food allergy bullying is a growing problem in schools across the country. Adults and kids without food allergies don’t always understand that food allergies can be life-threatening. Childish pranks can have dangerous and very significant emotional consequences for small children as well as teens.”
“Bullying has a significant social and emotional impact on children with food allergies,” said John L. Lehr, chief executive officer of FARE. “Research released earlier this year demonstrates it is important to identify and address cases of bullying proactively. The public service announcements released today mark an important step in educating and raising awareness of the physical dangers and emotional toll imposed by a new form of bullying in this country.”
A study published in Pediatrics demonstrated that bullying is common in children with food allergies. Researchers concluded that this bullying is associated with lower quality of life and distress in both children and their parents. According to the study, when parents are aware of the bullying, the child’s quality of life is better.
“It is our hope that greater awareness of the serious and potentially life-threatening nature of food allergies will help children and parents understand that what can be seen as a prank actually is very harmful and potentially very dangerous,” Lehr said in a press release today.
5.9 million children in the U.S. have a food allergy, and nearly 40 percent of them have already experienced a severe or life-threatening reaction, such as anaphylaxis. Every three minutes, a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency room. About a third of kids with food allergies report that they have been bullied specifically because of their allergies. Nearly half the time, kids with food allergies do not tell their parents they have been bullied.
Bullying is a regular topic in the news, but food allergy bullying is an issue that needs to become more of a conversation quickly in this country to avoid serious consequences.
FARE has started the “It’s Not a Joke” Campaign, which includes the below PSA that can help you learn more about food allergies and how you can prevent food allergy bullying.