Statement by Sung Poblete, PhD, RN, CEO of FARE, regarding the bullying of a Texas student with a food allergy
“We are deeply disturbed and saddened by the recent incident of bullying involving a student with a life-threatening peanut allergy at Lake Travis High School in Austin, Texas. We condemn the reprehensible actions of students who engaged in this bullying incident and believe that such behavior should not be tolerated by the school system. It is our hope that they have gained a greater understanding about the severity of life-threatening food allergies and will learn from their mistake.
“Food allergies are a serious disease affecting over 33 million Americans, and even the slightest exposure to a food allergen can trigger anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction. Bullying, particularly when it involves a severe health risk like a life-threatening food allergy, is entirely unacceptable. About one-third of school-aged children with food allergies report that they have been bullied because of their allergies.
“We believe in fostering a culture of inclusivity, education, and empathy, especially when it comes to the serious matter of food allergies. Incidents like these underscore the urgent need for increased awareness and education about the potentially life-threatening consequences of food allergies.
“It is our collective responsibility to ensure that every student, regardless of their health condition, can pursue their education without fear or harm. We call for swift and appropriate action by the school and authorities to address this incident, providing a clear message that bullying will not be tolerated.
“We encourage schools and communities to take proactive measures to address bullying and create environments where all students feel safe, respected, and free from discrimination. No-cost resources like FARE’s Be a PAL: Protect A Life program (foodallergy.org/pal) are available to help educate K-12 students, raise food allergy awareness in schools, and foster respect for all. Let us use this unfortunate incident as a catalyst for positive change and increased awareness about the importance of fostering compassion and understanding within our communities.”
The Be a PAL Program was updated in July 2023 with support from Cooperative Agreement NU38OT000282, funded by the Healthy Schools Branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), US Department of Health and Human Services, in partnership with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Its contents are solely the responsibility of Food Allergy Research & Education and do not necessarily represent the official views of AAP or CDC.
FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) is the nation’s leading non-profit engaged in food allergy advocacy as well as the largest private funder of food allergy research. FARE’s innovative education, advocacy and research initiatives transform the future of food allergy through new and improved treatments and prevention strategies, effective policies and legislation, and novel approaches to managing the disease. To learn more, visit: foodallergy.org.