Saturday, April 30, 2016

Food Allergy Bullying: Adults do it too

The wonderful Facebook group I follow on parents of teens with food allergies recently had a post about bullying. 

A mom was distraught because her child was bullied by a grown-up, sort of "bullying by omission"-- a teacher failed to take a stand during an assembly where a student was presenting a paper saying peanut allergies are made up, false, a way to get attention. The teacher, when confronted, apologized. 
   However, is that good enough? Every day our children are taught: stand up for your friends, speak out when you see bullying, say something to show your support. 
  Are adults-- role models like teachers and bosses and clergy-- doing less than what we are asking our kids to do?
   I have personally stepped back when I should have stepped forward. 
   My son's school, where he had been K-12, often dropped the ball on his food allergies:in high school,  not ordering what they promised, so he had nothing as others ate pizza; in second grade, serving his special meals, cold, direct from the cooler I'd sent; that sort of thing. And every time, I went in and talked to the teachers, to the nurse, to the head of school. And I knew I was being put off -- even as I organized gluten and nut free areas at the bake sale. And my son mentored younger kids with allergies in the school library. 
  And, I let myself be appeased by their apologies-- after the fact. I think, as my fierce FA friends show me how-- I think I allowed myself, and by extension my son, to be bullied by the school. 
  Let's not allow apologies after the fact, the teacher who doesn't step in, let's not allow this " bullying by omission" to happen so insidiously and consistently in our lives.   

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