|New Public Service Campaign “It’s Not A Joke” Tackles Difficult and Often Overlooked Issue during Food Allergy Awareness Week
McLEAN, VA (May 13, 2013) – Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), the nation’s leading food allergy organization, released today a national educational program targeted at curbing food allergy bullying among children in the United States. One in 13 children in the U.S. – roughly two in every classroom – has a food allergy. Nearly 40 percent of children with food allergies have experienced a severe or life-threatening reaction, such as anaphylaxis, and approximately one-third of children with food allergies report that they have been bullied because of their allergies. Nearly half the time, children with food allergies do not tell their parents that they have been bullied.
“Bullying has a significant social and emotional impact on children with food allergies,” said John L. Lehr, chief executive officer of FARE. “Research released earlier this year demonstrates it is important to identify and address cases of bullying proactively. The public service announcements released today mark an important step in educating and raising awareness of the physical dangers and emotional toll imposed by a new form of bullying in this country.”
A study published in Pediatrics (January 2013) demonstrated that bullying is common in children with food allergies. Researchers concluded that this bullying is associated with lower quality of life and distress in both children and their parents. According to the study, when parents are aware of the bullying, the child’s quality of life is better.
“It is our hope that greater awareness of the serious and potentially life-threatening nature of food allergies will help children and parents understand that what can be seen as a prank actually is very harmful and potentially very dangerous,” Lehr said.
Teen actor and former Shake It Up star Kenton Duty volunteered his talents for the PSA voiceover, since Kenton has publicly shared his own story of living with food allergies. Child actors were used in the PSAs to bring to life the feelings and stories of children with food allergies who have been bullied in an effort to protect their privacy. The PSAs are available in 90 and 30 second versions on www.foodallergy.org.
Food Allergy Awareness Week is being observed May 12-18 this year. More information, resources and awareness tools are available at www.foodallergy.org.