When the Bullies are the Other Parents

peanut butter sandwichA study was done that showed that children and teens are getting bullied specifically because they have food allergies. In many cases, the bullies are other students at the school. Unfortunately, it has become clear that there are situations where the other parents are the ones who are behaving like bullies.

In August of 2011, a controversy broke out at an elementary school in Florida. A seven year old girl, who was in first grade, had an allergy to peanuts.

After Spring Break, students arrived at the elementary school and learned that new rules had been put in place. The purpose of the rules was to prevent the child who had a peanut allergy from coming in contact with peanuts and having a life-threatening allergic reaction.

The rules involved hygienic practices that would be equally effective at preventing the spread of viruses or the common cold. Students had to wash their hands at the start of the school day before entering the classroom. They had to wash their hands again after lunch, and also rinse out their mouths with water, before entering the classroom.

The result was a group of parents decided to protest these new rules by forming a picket line outside of the elementary school. They demanded that the little girl who had peanut allergies be removed from the school, and home schooled. Inexplicably, this group of parents decided to act like a bunch of bullies, and pick on a child who had a special need.

It is worth noting that the Americans with Disabilities Act prevents public schools from removing children who have a special need and requiring them to be home schooled. The parents who were screaming like children in front of an elementary school were basically demanding that the school break the law – just so their children wouldn’t be asked to wash their hands.

CNN has a very interesting article called “Allergy bullying: When food is a weapon”. It starts with a story about a kindergartener who came home from school crying because a child in his class was threatening to force him to eat a peanut. The kindergartener is allergic to peanuts, so that would have killed him. Fortunately, the bully didn’t actually have a peanut and could not carry out his threat.

The comments left on the article are interesting as well. Once again, there are a bunch of parents who have healthy children who are insisting that children who have severe allergies shouldn’t be allowed at school. Some suggest that the children should never leave their homes, ever, for any reason. It always astounds me how selfish and intolerant adults, who should know better, can be to children who have special needs.

Image by yaybiscuits123 on Flickr