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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Bullying And Food Allergy ... cont'd

Here is some additional perspective from the mother of the child that was featured in the recent ABC news story about food allergy bullying.

The more I think about bullying and food allergy, the more convinced I become that these young bullies simply do not appreciate the risk associated with their actions. I suspect that the majority of these kids would be out of the spelling bee if they were given the word 'anaphylaxis'! Huh?

Bullying is about intimidation and gaining power over another person. It would appear to me that bullies do not intend to cause a fatal reaction in a food allergic child. Instead it appears that bullies frequently prefer to inflict their tactics "repeatedly and over time".

As a parent I know that in many cases a blended approach of 'carrot' and 'stick' are needed to mold proper behaviours. An example of the carrot approach would be telling your child that if she behaves herself then she will get a sticker. The (metaphorical) stick approach would be demonstrated by telling the child that bad behaviour will result in a timeout in the corner.

This same approach could apply to bullying.

Improved education and awareness as to the severity of anaphylaxis will help most kids understand the risks associated with food allergy bullying. Most children feel good about knowing that they can help make allergic kids safer (ie: the carrot approach).

Unfortunately, there will also be a group of bullies that need a deterrent. For these kids the police charges in Kentucky last week would serve as the metaphorical 'stick'.

1 comment:

Patience said...

I read an article in The Globe and Mail that mentioned this blog. My dd age 13 has a peanut allergy. She has been bullied regarding her allergy at least 5 times.
Worse than that is the whole guilt trip thing. There is a diabetic child in her class who continually complains about how he needs his peanut butter bars to stabilize his blood sugar (yes I know this is crap) and how awful it is that he can't have them.
I feel that a lot of the bullying is caused by parental attitudes and complaints to kids about how tough it is that they can't send PB sandwiches or "may contain" foods to school. While there are many places now that you would be ostracized for bringing such a product; the old guard still exists.
The school has been sensitive to this but it's a pain to think people/kids would even try to do this.
It's nice to know we aren't the only ones.