I’ve been wondering - are allergic children more likely to be bullied in school? Are they just more vulnerable? Or is it that if they are going to be bullied, that allergies are a convenient and effective soft spot to use? Is it a case of - which came first? The chicken or the ‘egg-free’, if you will…
According to the website ‘Beat Bullying’ 69% of children in the UK reporting being bullied and at least 20 children and teenagers a year commit suicide because of being bullied. The NSPCC has slightly different figures – they say that 46% of children and young people say that have been bullied at school at some point in the lives with 38% of disabled children are worried about being bullied. The NSPCC website also quotes that over 16,000 young people are frequently absent from school due to bullying. Those are staggering numbers. It shows that bullying is out of control, whatever we’re doing to stop it is clearly ineffective.
Now let’s overlay allergies into this. With 1 in 13 kids having allergies that means that 2 or 3 kids per class of 30 are allergic. That’s a couple of kids per classroom with something nice and easy to have a go with.
School lunches are already difficult for allergic children and fraught with opportunities for bullying. Often allergic children suffer from exclusion, or are given pitiful replacement meals. What a great opportunity for random meanness…for snide comments like ‘this is delicious…soooooo sad you can’t have it’. It’s all in the delivery. Molly can tell the difference between sympathy and nastiness. We’ve had it all. I’ve had to tell Molly to go on about how great her lunch is. How she doesn’t like the look of theirs thank you very much. She'd kill to be able to eat everyday - but she has to hid those feelings away.
And when they wave cakes in her face taunting her? Well…that’s when I started decorating cupcakes elaborately. So she had something that looked great. When her reflux is acting up she shouldn’t have cakes (too high in sugar and fat) which is really hard. So we’ve done a deal. I bake, and she goes into school with cakes or cookies. At the appropriate moment she takes a bite, announces how scrumptious it is, and then says she’ll save the rest for later. Honest to God it’s like writing the script for ‘Mean Girls…The Allergy Years’. As long as she holds firm, doesn’t flinch, doesn’t blush, then it all calms down pretty quickly. But like ezcema is flares up unexpectedly and she has to deal with it. This adds to our exhaustion, our sense of ‘one more thing’ to deal with. I know lots of kids are bullied. I know we’re not alone, and I know it may happen again. But I’d love there to be some sort of consequence for the bullies…
If you have allergic children have they been bullied because of their allergies? Are they being excluded from school lunches due to allergies? I’d love to hear from you…
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