You have limitations when it comes to eating foods. You risk the chance of cross contamination when eating out. You’re always carrying around your medication to treat your allergic reaction if and when you have one. Always having your guard up during social interactions, to once again prevent an allergic reaction. Now, imagine dealing with all of the above on top of inconsiderate people who find humor and for some reason joy in bullying you because of your lifestyle in which you have no control of. Bullying that than leads to physical and emotional damage.
People with food allergies already have enough on their plates (No pun intended); it’s time to bring awareness to the aftermath and unnecessary attention that comes with it. The following is some insight on the types of bullying and damage caused to those with food allergies and how to take a step towards stopping this unfortunate domino effect.
Do you have a fear of being friends with a person who has food allergies? A question I asked Rosa, a 15 year old high school student who was quick to responded with "No, I'm just very aware." Although there are some people out there who are open and welcoming to all, unfortunately there are many who are not.
According to a survey published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, about 25% of children, and among students in grades six through tenth as high as 50% were targets of bullying. 353 teens, adults up to age 25 as well as parents and caregivers of children with food allergies completed this survey. All of these innocent people bullied, teased or harassed because of a food allergy. There are many types of bullying tactics that can take place. Physical contact with the product of sensitivity from the perpetrator purposely interacting with the victim with the allergy and causing sickness or anaphylaxis reactions to name calling, and being singled out are examples. These are all different levels of bullying that need to be addressed and shut down immediately before the lungs of a human being do first.
For signs and types of bullying tactics visit: http://www.foodallergyawareness.org/education/for_parents-4/bullying_-_general_information-9/
Being a target of bullying do to food allergies is extremely common in grade school, not to say it doesn’t take place in a adult learning or work environment. Unfortunately, just because the bullying decreases for people with food allergies, as they get older doesn’t mean the effect of bullying leaves them. Sadly, their emotional structure is damaged as well. According to Bullying and Food Allergy: What Can Allergists Do? The impact of bullying in all forms is profound and pervasive, producing emotional distress; underachievement and diminished productivity; potential physical damage or even death because of injuries, anaphylaxis, or suicide; and often somatization of stress. The study showed that of 67 children who reported consequences, about 65 percent described being sad, depressed, or embarrassed. Many researchers express that although much more research is needed for a more accurate result they state that over the past year children managing multiple food allergies, allergic to specific foods, and/or who have more knowledge about food allergy were significantly likely to have a poorer quality of life due to lake of social skills, over protection from parents, and lake of social interactions, mostly stemming from bullying.
For more information regarding the "Domino Effect" of Food Allergies be sure to visit: FAACT: Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Connection Team.