KIDS with food allergies are being bullied by jealous peers who intentionally wave life threatening allergens in their face.
Australian researchers have studied shocking evidence from other countries and believe the escalating problem is of “grave concern” and needs more investigation in Australia. Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia (A & AA) backs the call.
“We are certainly aware of cases of this kind of bullying in Australia,” A & AA chief Maria Said said.
“There is a lack of respect and understanding around allergies generally and when it comes to children there can be an element of jealousy — some don’t like the special attention focused on the food allergic children. Then there are just cases where the bully likes to pick on the kid with allergies,” she said.
A new report in the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health highlights that up to 30 per cent of kids internationally have reported being bullied because of their allergy — some have been touched with allergens like peanut butter or had their food deliberately contaminated.
“Some of the things include things as scary as being forced to eat the food they’re allergic to, or people tricking them into eating food,” Professor Andrew Fong from The University of New South Wales told 7News.
Food allergy affects one in 12 children in Australia. The authors highlighted that many children with allergies are already isolated, separated from peers at meal times and social activities are often restricted.
Early learning centres are striving to deliver the message of respecting those with food allergies.
“We have children with all kinds of allergies and we do all we can to make their peers understand the importance of keeping those kids safe,” Jana Walker, director of Timber Tots childcare centre in Brisbane said
“Teaching kids early is important so they carry this awareness through life. Our kids seem very protective of each other,” she said.
The most common triggers of food allergic reactions in childhood are peanuts, tree nuts, milk and egg.
Common triggers of food allergy in adults are fish, shellfish, peanut and tree nuts. Many children outgrow their allergies.