It’s Food Allergy Awareness Week and I am helping to get the word out about a serious issue that has potentially dangerous consequences: Food Allergy Bullying. You may already know that I have a son with serious food allergies. Food allergies affect 1 in 13 U.S. children – roughly two in every classroom. Sadly, about one-third of these kids have been bullied because of their allergies, and about half the time, they don’t tell their parents.
As a parent, teacher, friend or neighbor, you can help prevent and address food allergy bullying. Here are some important tips from www.foodallergy.org/its-not-a-joke:
- Encourage open communication. Be sure kids understand what bullying is and what to do if they – or a friend or classmate – are bullied. Emphasize the importance of reporting bullying to a trusted adult.
- Teach kids the skills they need to stand up to bullies, including saying “stop” or “leave me alone” with confidence, using humor, and walking away.
- Recognize the signs of bullying. These can include torn clothing or damaged books; unexplained reactions or injuries; avoiding school; physical complaints, such as headaches or stomachaches; consistent nightmares; lower grades and loss of interest in school; social isolation; and behavior changes, such as sadness or outbursts.
- If your child is being bullied, be calm and assure him or her that you’re going to help. Don’t encourage retaliation or confront the bully yourself. This can make the problem worse. Instead, talk to the appropriate personnel at your child’s school or camp.
- Encourage teachers, administrators, the school nurse, or counselors to offer educational programs about food allergies and bullying. Talk to school or camp administrators about establishing policies and plans that protect children with food allergies and protect all children against bullying.
- Set up a buddy system. Encourage kids who are bullied to stay with a group of trusted friends in high-risk situations, such as at the lunchroom or while walking home from school.
Together, we can make a difference! Thank you!!