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Friday, February 2, 2007

Desert Peanut 'War' continued

The East Valley Tribune published an editorial today in respect to the Arizona allergy legislation that I blogged about this week.

My basic contention was that legislation alone is not the solution. We need to support teachers and provide them with encouragement as well as training. We can't just make rules and hope that they are applied. It doesn't work that way and that has little empathy for the teacher who is truly frightened at the though of plunging a needle into the leg of a child who is in the middle of an anaphylactic reaction. That is scary even for parents of allergic children.

Here is the editorial text ... note the NoPeanuts comment added at the bottom =)

The basic logic flow of the editorial is that children with allergies deserve special attention but that somehow a law that forces teachers to be at the front lines of emergency response is an abdication of parental responsibility.

I don't understand that. Parents of anaphylactic children are not asking teachers to raise their children, they are asking them to do whatever they can to return their children alive at the end of the school day. Through prevention and proper emergency response training teachers WILL save lives!

That is a good thing. It Takes A Village to Avoid A Peanut - we need the teachers on our side!!

The editorial then goes on to say that this abdication of parental responsibility will create societal problems.

"Less parental involvement means more poorly adjusted children who don’t fare well in school — and became burdens as adults for the rest of us to care for through poverty assistance, drug treatment programs and jail cells."

That is irresponsible to write in my opinion.

In the context of this editorial, the Tribune is basically saying that allergy laws will result in more people going to jail down the road? Is that the connection that they are trying to make? That is a bizarre comment.

Here is my comment on their site:

I agree with the overall sentiment that legislation alone is not enough and I blogged on that this week (see my post Desert Peanut 'War' at

That being said, I feel that teachers are on the front line of dealing with allergic children. Teachers will be put in life and death situations ... that is unavoidable. I just think that training and support is even more important than legislation.

To say that legislation is an abdication of parental responsibility and that will ultimately result in more people ending up in jails is a big leap though ... you lost me there.

The bottom line is that teachers have these children all day and anything we can do to help teachers save the lives of allergic children (whether achieved through prevention or proper emergency response) is worth pursuing.

It Takes A Village To Avoid A Peanut
February 2, 2007


Roland Hulme said...

Having worked with teenagers in the past, I think one of the things that terrifies teachers is the thought of being held responsible if anything goes wrong... What if they failed to give the injection in time? What if they gave the injection, but there was an air bubble in the needle? America and the UK are such 'compensation cultures' that people are terrified of doing ANYTHING in case they get sued.

What we're asking teachers to do is simple and straightforward, no different to a diabetic taking insulin injections. However teachers are not trained nurses and unless we can: 1: Give appropriate training & 2: Give some sort of legal protection I can understand their reticence.

We live in a world in which EVERYBODY seems to want to blame somebody else for their misfortunes.

The scary thing is, however, that the longer these things are just discussed and not acted upon, the longer children run the risk of having an attack and there being nobody there trained to assist them.

NoPeanuts said...

I fully agree. We need to support front-line caregivers, teachers, classmates et al as they will be the first line of emergency response to an anaphylactic episode.

I did some research and (in NY at least) it seems that the Good Samaritan Laws apply to teachers and other school personnel - not sure if this varies state by state or province by province.

Here is the NY ruling:


NoPeanuts said...

The URL was cut off:

The Nanny of a Little Peanut said...

in response to roland hulme's comment, i would have to agree with his second paragraph. As a caregiver of an allergic toddler it scares the bejeezes out of me on a daily basis that i might in fact have to shove that horrible needle into her thigh. i've seen her deal with should be given to all teachers in all school. this training should not be based on whether or not the teacher has an allergic child in their particular class. if i was on duty at recess and a child went into shock...well you'd have to know what you're doing.

i also agree with the legal protection portion of your comment. i have to say it also scares me that if i don't get there fast enough or something goes wrong with the pen, i may be blamed for her hopefully just life threatening experience. as curt as it sounds, i don't like thinking all the time, 'would i hesitate if she was going into shock for fear that i would mess it up?'.

it's all very scary all the time to be honest, but looking at it with an open mind and getting all the information possible makes the situation a bit easier to deal with.

The Cookbook Junkie said...

I agree that it's a huge responsibility for teachers to have to give the epi-pen but unfortunately teachers should accept that as part of their job (not just epi-pen training but other basic first aid too). Like it or not, child care goes along with teaching. They have a responsibility to keep kids healthy while in their care all day so they need to have basic medical training. Even a child with no known allergies could pick school hours to have their first reaction.

In an ideal situation there should be a nurse or other medical professional on duty during school hours and the teacher would only need to act (stick the pen) in extreme circumstances but they still need to be ablt to recognize when there's a problem.

And if this scares teachers so much, they should be the first ones in line lobbying for a peanut-free school or other policies that make schools safer for kids with food allergies. I've heard many stories of teachers passing out unsafe foods, letting other parents send in unsafe treats, providing food rewards on the fly, etc. If they were better educated about food allergies and understood the consequences of an accidental exposure, maybe they wouldn't be so careless. If it suddenly affects them (I have to give this kid a shot?), they would probably jump right on board with a strict food allergy policy.