Food allergies are nothing new to California residents. It is common for schools to send notices home warning parents of a child with a serious allergy and requesting that no snacks or meals containing the allergen be sent to the school. Like many parents, however, you might not realize that food allergy bullying is also common. Many children with allergies are targeted because of their allergies and can be put at significant risk.
During the Food Allergy Research & Education foundation’s “It’s Not a Joke” campaign, it is reported that about a third of all children with food allergies say they were bullied because of them. Food allergy bullying can go far beyond teasing and taunting because of an allergy. Bullies can bring the offending food to school and intentionally expose children at risk. For example, a bully may shove a peanut butter sandwich into your child’s face if he or she is allergic to peanuts, or sneak the allergen into your child’s own lunch.
Adults who should know better can also take part in food allergy bullying, whether intentional or not. A parent who is upset that she is not allowed to send peanut treats to school may provide peanut butter cookies to “prove” that the allergy is not a big deal, or could complain about the inconvenience in front of her children, thus unwittingly encouraging the bullying, instead of teaching children to understand the severity of food allergies. Since bullying is a complex and serious topic, you should realize that this information is not meant to replace the advice of a lawyer.