Food Allergy and Bullying Statistics
It’s the summer vacation for most of the kids in the United States. And, however many plans that families are making for their kids, the ones who get bullied while they’re out of the classroom will be absolutely exhausted by the time they get back to the house.
Once kids get to the age where their immune systems are completely formed and they have no real response to food, they’re more susceptible to food-allergy ailments. That is why they’re often the ones being bullied over food-allergy in the classroom.
Children with food allergies now account for 18-percent of all food allergies. And, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 14-percent of children ages 6-18 are affected by a food allergy. With such a high percentage of kids under 18 affected by food allergies, it’s no wonder parents keep on being put in a panic by the thought of their kids having to give up certain food-allergy related foods like milk, eggs, peanuts, and fish.
On top of that, the term “food allergy” encompasses a much wider spectrum than just allergy to one particular food. And that means that food-allergy bullying can be carried on to other areas of the child’s life that are very difficult to give up, like rules and restraints.
If your child has food-allergy, try to set a precedent that you want to spend time each year at lunchtime together during the summer. Allow your child to walk out to the lunch line and choose what he wants to eat. Without a sitter at lunchtime, your child should have time to decide what kind of food he wants to eat.
If it’s a day when the school is hosting several birthday parties, encourage your child to visit each of the birthday party guests individually and pick out something he likes to eat. And, in addition to eating, it will be good for him to exchange birthday wishes with the birthday boy or girl. Of course, you should do the same thing with any other party that may be happening at the school that day.
Next year, encourage your child to spend at least one full day out of school every week with the family that has food allergies. Even if it’s just a day with your family together and sitting at a picnic on the lawn, do it. This will be the one occasion where you will get to make a lasting memory of it by him. While you’re eating lunch with him, talk about your favorite foods. And, while you’re eating lunch with him, see if he gets the idea of getting to go out to lunch together with him again as soon as school lets out next year.
As a community, there is a lot that can be done to stop the kind of food-allergy bullying that occurs in school. The Food Allergy Research and Education Foundation, or FARE, has an impressive cookbook that is designed to increase awareness and education about food allergies and food-allergy bullying. It contains more than 700 recipes and tells the story of food-allergy bullying.
Contact your local schools for additional information on how to recognize food-allergy bullying and how to prevent it.