One of my favorite TV shows is Freaks and Geeks, a comedy (with some very serious scenes) about a bunch of high school kids, several of which are pretty, well, geeky. In one episode, one of the geekiest kids, who has a severe peanut allergy, gets teased by the school bully. It starts off as just mean, but then the kid surreptitiously puts peanut butter in the geek’s sandwich. The geek takes a bite and lands in the hospital, in a coma. I wasn’t kidding about the serious scenes.
This sort of bullying is known as food bullying, and it’s dangerous, as this article points out. It suggests that part of the problem is that the bullys don’t know how dangerous that can be. I agree with that – not comperehending the danger of food allergies leads a lot of people to do stupid things around people with allergies.
Education is a good way to battle this sort of threat – teaching kids about food allergies would go a long way toward preventing this sort of bullying, I think. But, I don’t think that’s on the radars of most schools. Most schools are much more aware of food allergies than they were 10 or 20 years ago, but the vibe I get from most food allergy parents is that they feel like their schools still don’t understand the seriousness of these allergies to the extent they should. I recently came across a blog by a student teacher who was puzzled that the parents of a boy with an allergy were upset with him/her for letting the kid touch candy.
Have your kids been bullied with food? I’d be interested to know. I was bullied some when I was a kid, but my allergies (bees, shellfish) meant I never had to worry about people teasing me with those. Is food bullying happening often?