Food has become a dangerous weapon for some school bullies as the number of children with food allergies climbs.
A recent survey found roughly a third of children reported being bullied for their allergies, but parents knew about the threatening behavior only half the time, according to the New York Times.
The nonprofit Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) released a public service announcement featuring a pupil lamenting the cafeteria as a “scary place.” It has more than 17,000 views on YouTube and led many parents to share unnerving anecdotes on the group’s Facebook page.
Children’s National Medical Center in Washington just hired a psychologist to join its food allergy program, in part to help young patients who feel isolated or are being bullied. Dr. Hemant P. Sharma, the director of the program, said a third of the center’s patients report being bullied.
Every few months, a child recounts being force-fed an allergen, Dr. Sharma said, adding, “Even if it’s just a child who feels singled out because of their food allergy, it compounds the emotional burden.”