We absolutely love and adore Michelle Obama and her continual investment in a better life for all children. What a great motto this is! But what do you do when there is no place to go? What happens when you’re being bullied because you have a life threatening food allergy to peanuts and the bully is standing next to you with a peanut butter sandwich as their weapon of choice?
This, unfortunately, is becoming all too common. Here are some steady facts about the reality of food allergies and food allergy bullying by Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE):
– Food allergies affect 15 million Americans. This includes 1 in 13 children – roughly two in every classroom. More than 300,000 children have food allergies in Canada.
– Nearly 40 percent of children with food allergies have experienced a severe or life-threatening reaction, such as anaphylaxis.
– In the U.S., a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency room every three minutes.
– Consuming even a trace amount of the wrong food can trigger a dangerous reaction. Being touched by an allergen can also cause a reaction.
– Strict avoidance of problem foods is the only way to prevent a reaction.
– Anaphylaxis is a severe, potentially fatal allergic reaction. Epinephrine is the first-line treatment for anaphylaxis. Delays in receiving epinephrine can result in death.
– According to a recent study, more than one third of children and teens with food allergies (ages 8-17), reported being bullied specifically because of their food allergies – usually by classmates.
– The bullying frequently included threats with foods.
– In almost half the cases reported in this study, the children did not report the bullying to their parents.
– Food allergy bullying is associated with a lower quality of life and distress in both children and their parents.
– Communication is key: When parents know that their child is being bullied, the child’s quality of life is better.
– To learn more about food allergy bullying, visit www.foodallergy.org/its-not-a-joke.
In addition, we’ve added a few links here to news stories of food allergy bullying that has taken place specifically in Canada. Do not be fooled by the differences that we think may exist between US and Canada’s statistics on these issues. Where there is bullying, there is a problem:
Food allergy bullying affects many children across Canada :: Global News, 2014
Food Allergy Bullying: What you can do :: Allergic Living
Food Allergy Bullying Victims Speak Out Against “Life Threatening” Problem :: CTV News, 2013
Peanut Allergies Lead to Bullying In Schools :: Huffington Post Canada, 2014
Check out this video provided by FARE:
Like many of you out there in Canada today, we are wearing our Pink Shirts today to see help put an end to bullying in all the ways it manifests. Of course, knowledge is power and one thing our young ones might not understand is the how life threatening a food allergy can be. The more you and your children know, the safer it can be for children with food allergies and the more #pinkshirtpromise that is committed to today, the safer it is for all children. We aren’t strangers to being bullied or food allergies. We are committed to a better future for both!
The Gluten Free Chef