Food allergies make us different. We can't eat the foods that many people enjoy. We have to read labels, carry an Epi-Pen around, we have to spread awareness , and we have to be very proactive and observant. In a way, food allergies are what makes us more mature for our age. We have to advocate for ourselves when our parents aren't here and we have to speak up and be brave. It is not easy telling your friends that you can't eat the cake they are serving at their birthday party . You may not want to tell them about your food allergies because you don't want to feel embarrassed or left out. You don't want to be labeled as the allergy kid or the person with a serious medical condition. However, telling them will be very beneficial because they will be able to accommodate for you or help you shop for alternatives. If people call you names based on your food allergies, you can easily tell them to stop and show them that there is more to you then your food allergies.
Food allergies empower us, they allow us to be a part of something that not a lot of people are in: a loving, supportive community, full of people who know what you are going through. They have experienced similar situations and can give you advice. You can bond with others, and make friends through this intolerance. At FARE's Teen Summit and at FAACT's Teen Conference, I met so many new friends. I felt close to them and we were able to discuss our food allergies and how it makes us special.
Be a part of the food allergy community. EMBRACE WHAT MAKES YOU DIFFERENT. You can join facebook groups or even attend food allergy conferences!
How to prevent food allergy bullying
These tips regarding how to address and prevent food allergy bullying are very similar to my page, Prevent Bullying. However, these are written more specifically for food allergy bullying. Food allergies affect 1 in 13 U.S children - 2 in every classroom. One third of these children have been a target for bullies. You can prevent food allergy bullying by following these steps :
- Communicate with your classmates. Ensure that teens and kids in your class understand what bullying is and what to do if someone is bullied. Emphasize the importance of reporting bullying to an adult.
- Teach kids what they should do if they witness bullying. Tell them the definition of an Upstander and a Bystander (resort back to this page for more information).
- Recognize the signs of bullying and the effects. (see here for more information)
- Encourage teachers, counselors, administrators, or the school nurse to offer educational programs about food allergy bullying. Talk to your school about establishing policies and plans that protect children with food allergies and protect everyone against bullying.