BULLYING

About one-third of children and teenagers with food allergies are bullied, simply because they are different. Children have been taunted, teased, and threatened because of their allergies. 

Food allergy bullying is a growing issue across the country; people who have food allergies are a target. Bullies don't understand the seriousness of food allergies; they think people are faking it and may harass those with food allergies by using their allergens against them. 

food-allergy-bullying.pdf

Food Allergies are real and serious

How to stop the bullying

Because people often don't believe the severity of food allergies, they may think the person with food allergies is lying. It can be hard to convince others that food allergies are a significant concern, when allergies are an invisible health problem, until an allergic reaction occurs. There is a lack of education and awareness among students and that's why bullying sometimes occurs. 

To communicate the seriousness of food allergies, you can do one of the following: 

- Deliver a presentation about food allergies to your class. This will help to educate students and help them to understand the severity of the medical condition

- Participate in food allergy awareness campaigns 

- Ask your school nurse to deliver a presentation

However, sometimes bullies tease and harass others simply because they are different. They may understand the severity of your food allergies but think that you are an outcast. Though food allergies make you different from other students, you shouldn't be ashamed of it. Having food allergies can empower you and help you become an independent individual. Food allergies build a community. 

What to do if you are being bullied because of your food allergies: 

- Tell a teacher or family member. They may be able to help you by altering your school schedule so you can avoid the bully. They may also be able to talk to the individual and understand the cause of the bullying. 

- Reduce the risk of exposure to your allergen in the classroom. Ask your teacher to provide an allergen-free classroom according to the food allergic student's Section 504 plan. 

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Food Allergies are real and serious

Many people believe that food allergies are an excuse to be picky, or a way to gain attention. I have seen so many websites and articles arguing that people lie about their food allergies and are "faking" it. 

"In order to justify their new lifestyle, many are claiming that they have a gluten allergy (or even allergies to dairy, sugar, or eggs) so that they can eliminate entire food groups from their diet." 

This is a quote from the Neogen Blog, a website for food and animal safety. Many mothers complain about how their child can't bring in a specific food to school because a student "claims" to have food allergies. Because there are so many news articles and websites stating that food allergies aren't real or serious, many readers doubt the severity of food allergies and this is a big problem for the food allergy community. 

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If you think that you have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. Reliance on any information provided by the ALAN Services is solely at your own risk. 

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