author of Feeding Eden

Food Allergy Bullies

It's for good reason that CNN's recent article Food allergies make kids a target of bullies has created a week of upset among the Food Allergy community. The article was so disturbing yet the commentary from the Other Camp was just as bad. And the offences and defences continued. Whether it was the voice of the I Think You Crazy Parents Are Exaggerating group or the We Shouldn't Be Deprived Because Of Your Kid group, the cyber backlash helped me understand the context of the article that much more.

How are children going to change their views of food allergies if there are adults that teach them that food allergies are laughable, ridiculous or even weird? I was a middle school teacher for many years and learned that being around children is like watching your reflection in the House of Mirrors. What you do or say, children will carry to the next extreme -- before pulling back and making something their own. So when children watch a television show that riffs on the Allergy Kid or hear their parents grumble, "It was so much easier to make lunch / snacks / party food back before all these allergy rules!" there is a generational ripple effect.
Life threatening food allergies are a brand new issue. And we grownups have an opportunity to handle this one better than say, minority rights, disability awareness, or religious tolerance. So, as I look forward to publishing a book about living food allergies, I hope that studies like this are followed by more education on all fronts.