Teach your kids the potential consequences of allergy bullying

The school years can be difficult for children, no matter where they are on the social ladder. Kids may be bullied or be bullies themselves, or their friends may pressure them into teasing and bullying others. It is hard when kids in Michigan just want to fit in with their peers. Your children might participate in something they do not feel comfortable with to avoid becoming a target. However, it is crucial to teach your children that some behaviors are not harmless and may result in criminal charges.

Food allergy bullying is one such behavior that can have serious repercussions. Allergies are a common affliction, affecting approximately one out of 13 children in the United States. Your child may be allergic or have classmates who are allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, dairy, soy, shellfish, wheat, honey or certain fruits and vegetables. Some allergies can be life-threatening.

You may wonder, what exactly is food allergy bullying? A recent incident, reported by USA TODAY, described how a group of girls played a joke on a classmate who is allergic to pineapple. One girl rubbed the fruit on her hand and gave a high five to the girl with the allergy, who then needed emergency treatment at the hospital. The other girl and her friends are facing criminal charges, including the following:

  • Aggravated assault
  • Simple assault
  • Criminal conspiracy
  • Reckless endangering
  • Harassment
  • Criminal conduct

If these charges seem extreme, you must realize that the prank could have been significantly disabling or fatal for the girl with allergies. It may be eye-opening for you, your children and others to learn that approximately one-third of children who suffer from food allergies have reported suffering bullying by their peers and, in some cases, their teachers and other adults.

If you teach your children now that there is a difference between good-natured teasing and a joke that may harm someone else, you might help them avoid potentially life-changing consequences.