Handling Food Allergy Bullying & Long-Term Resolutions

With kids back in school, we cannot reiterate enough how crucial and how imperative it is that food allergy bullying is STOPPED, and children know how to handle it in an effective manner.

Last week, we shared a story about bullying that hit close to home. This blog is a follow-up on that. While excerpts are shared in this post, the full story can be accessed here.

The target in our story: my sister (when she was in second grade), struggling to keep the enemy in peanuts away from her, as the bully brought a peanut butter and jelly sandwich towards her mouth. There came a point where she felt she couldn’t defend herself anymore, at least without the help of her school staff.

She mustered courage, got up and walked straight to the School Counselor’s office, just outside the cafeteria. She recalls shaking like a leaf, nervous and frightened, not just about thwarting a severe allergic reaction, but also losing popularity with the other friends, for being that “weird kid” who goes to the counselor.

GOING TO THE COUNSELOR IS NOT “WEIRD”

I am glad my sister’s school counselor sorted things out.

She rolled out the Restorative Justice Program.

It’s purpose was to give the bully:

  • a deeper understanding of the impact of her behavior

  • an opportunity to take responsibility for the harm she caused

  • an understanding to harness empathy

  • to chance to work on a way to restore the damaged relationship.

After a verbal and written apology from the girl and a note to her family the incident was history as far as my sister was concerned.

————————————————————-

Impact of bullying incidents in a child with food allergies are :

Distress and anxiety…While certainly real, these feelings are counterproductive. They impede problem solving.

Embarrassment and feelings of victimization…These feelings reinforce social isolation.

Resentment of the restrictions…In children while understandable, this can be toxic and it needs to be addressed.

Impede self-reliance…This is critical in developing a safe social environment in children with food allergies.

————————————————————-

Therefore, in my mind a better approach would be for us to:

  • Design and implement a school-based Food Allergy Awareness Program, perhaps run by the PTA.

  • It is imperative that we use the support of the school counselor, cafeteria staff, and teachers.

  • At the Middle/High School level, an Allergy Advocate Club would also be a great idea.

  • Be proactive…be the change you wish to see in the world.

Food Allergy Bullying: Et tu, Brute?

My sister’s narrative of a cold winter afternoon in second grade has stuck with me…for it was not just a horrific experience for her, but is perhaps another story of “Cafeteria Mayhem” for many children with food allergies.

As she walked in for lunch with her best friend, little did she know that her trusted crony would leave her a victim of the “mean girl phenomena” or quite simply put- BULLYING!!

Back then, my sister was allergic to peanuts. That afternoon lunch started off somewhat atypical. Strangely, this friend, an otherwise allergy-friendly kid bought a PB&J sandwich. That was unusual and had my sister on the edge.

As the girl broke a piece of bread smeared in peanut butter, she turned towards my sister and said “I’m gonna force-feed you peanuts today!”

Frightened, my sister tried to move away, although still seated. This potentially lethal piece moved closer to her as she arched over.  Her dilemma was how to protect herself, while conforming to the cafeteria rules of “sitting in your spot.”

Arguably, seven year olds don’t always make the best decisions. But, in their defense sometimes even if they know what is best for them the regimented, stereotypical rules in school do not give children the latitude to do something drastically different.

As my sister struggled to keep the enemy in peanuts away from her, there came a point where she couldn’t arch back any further.

She mustered courage, got up and walked straight to the School Counselor’s office, just outside the cafeteria. She recalls shaking like a leaf, nervous and frightened, not just about thwarting a severe allergic reaction, but also losing popularity with the other friends, for being that “weird kid” who goes to the counselor.

Eleven years later, I assume that her friend was impulsive and the act was not a contemplated, conscious attempt to harm my sister. But for someone with severe peanut allergy this was an ultimate in betrayal by her closest friend. This arrogance and a conspiracy of sorts, could be summed up in three words…Et tu, Brute?”

I am glad my sister’s school counselor sorted things out.

She rolled out the Restorative Justice program.

It’s purpose was to:

  • give the bully a deeper understanding of the impact of her behavior
  • to provide her an opportunity to take responsibility for the harm she caused
  • to harness empathy
  • to work on a way to restore the damaged relationship.

After a verbal and written apology from the girl and a note to her family the incident was history as far as my sister was concerned.

————————————————————————–

Bullying incidents in a child with food allergies are likely to cause:

Distress and anxiety…While certainly real, these feelings are counterproductive. They impede problem solving.

Embarrassment and feelings of victimization…These feelings reinforce social isolation.

Resentment of the restrictions…In children while understandable, this can be toxic and it needs to be addressed.

Impede self-reliance…This is critical in developing a safe social environment in children with food allergies.

Therefore, in my mind a better approach would be for us to:

Design and implement a school-based

Food Allergy Awareness Program, perhaps run by the PTA.

It is imperative that we use the support of the school counselor, cafeteria staff, and teachers.

At the Middle/High School level, an Allergy Advocate Club would also be a great idea.

Be proactive…be the change you wish to see in the world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

MOD Pizza

Where are our pizza lovers?

MOD Pizza is a unique restaurant where diners come in and build their own custom pizzas…like a Subway.

MOD Pizza not only guarantees a fun dining experience, but a delicious one too! Their wide selection of toppings guarantees something wonderful for everyone!

How could this possibly get any better? 

MOD Pizza is a COMPLETELY nut-free restaurant! 

If you are looking for a fun, relaxing, and enjoyable dining experience, where the staff treats you like family, MOD Pizza is definitely the place to be. 

Check out the FAQ which answers several allergy-related questions: modpizza.com/faq/

For a full guide to Nutritional/Allergen info, click here: modpizza.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Nutritional-Allergen-8-19-16.pdf

Epi-Pen Video Tutorial

Hi Everyone!

Check out FAL’s Tutorial on How To Use An Epi-Pen!

Be sure to share and spread the word! #CrusadeToEducate

AllergySmartz App Tutorial

Hey #FAL Family!

We hope you’ve enjoyed your summer vacation! We have been working on many surprises for you!

Check out today’s VIDEO, a tutorial for the AllergySmartz App – our revolutionary tool for travelers with food allergies! Enjoy!

Summer Break!

Hey FALowers! 

We hope you are enjoying your summer travels and are finding the update to AllergySmartz useful in conveying your food allergies abroad.

Just as you have all embarked on your vacations, FAL will be going on a Summer Break as well. Therefore, there will not be new posts for awhile, but when we return expect all-new content and some surprises too!

If you want to see something in particular when FAL returns: a certain language added to AllergySmartz, or a blog post on a specific topic, let us know! Email us at allergysmartz@gmail.com. We love hearing from you!

Safe travels FAL Family🙂

AllergySmartz App Update

It’s Summer! All set for your next vacation? The AllergySmartz App is all ready for your use – with four new languages just added: Chinese, Bahasa Malay, Filipino, & Romanian!

AllergySmartz is a mobile app that overcomes language barriers to communicate food allergies and safety precautions for safe food preparation to chefs, in a variety of languages.

AllergySmartz currently features the top allergens (milk, egg, wheat, soy, peanuts, legumes/pulses, tree nuts, fish, shellfish [mollusks/crustaceans], mustard, and sesame) and 16 languages to translate the allergy warning statements both to and from (English, Chinese, Spanish, Hindi, Arabic, Russian, Japanese, Vietnamese, French, German, Italian, Romanian, Filipino, Hungarian, Bahasa Indonesian, & Bahasa Malay)

AllergySmartz allows users to delve into any culture, sampling various international cuisines while still feeling comfortable.

AllergySmartz can be used anywhere on the globe – it requires NO internet access!

Download AllergySmartz on the iTunes or Google Play Store TODAY!

Google Play: https://goo.gl/qM0ZZ9
iTunes: https://goo.gl/dsti2N