Teen Advisory Group (TAG) members talk about the effects of bullying when you have food allergies.
"I was unsure of what to do because I’d never really had this happen before, and I was nervous that no one would believe me because my parents, friends, and I had known this person for a long time." -Emily Manny
Emily Manny: Two years ago, a girl in my Girl Scout troop was annoyed with me over something very small and trivial. She knew about my allergy, and she knew that it was serious. She started making threats towards me about eating peanut butter and nut products. She also talked about putting peanut butter on me, because I am allergic to nuts. She was making these threats behind my back and I didn’t know until my best friend told me about it. Her mother found out and she got in a lot of trouble. To my knowledge, she hasn’t done anything like that since.
Being threatened by someone I knew was definitely a scary experience, and I was nervous to be around her for a while after that, especially if there was food involved. I was unsure of what to do because I’d never really had this happen before, and I was nervous that no one would believe me because my parents, friends, and I had known this person for a long time. However, my best friend helped me and we told our parents and the person’s mother. I think my parents and my best friend were kind of nervous too, because we had never expected this person to do anything like that, and my best friend has food allergies as well. Now, looking back, I’m proud that I was able to tell someone and handle the problem.
"To this day I am so proud of myself for telling someone even though it was scary." -Shae Averaimo
Shae Averaimo: Last year, I changed schools and many people didn’t know about my food allergy. I had to educate them to make sure that they understood. I was wrong when I thought they understood. A boy in my class made fun of me about my food allergy all the time, and he decided to throw mac and cheese at me. I am highly allergic to milk, so that was very scary for me. After I told him that I was allergic to dairy and I could have had a reaction if that came any closer he started to make fun of me saying that I didn’t have a food allergy and I was exaggerating. I told the principal and he was very mad. The student got in big trouble and he never did it again.
This problem was really scary and I never wanted to go to school again. I was really nervous around that person and I was scared to tell my teachers and my principal. Initially, I didn’t know how to solve the problem. I told an adult that was nearby and they told me to tell the principal. When I told the principal he called the student up and they had a chat. He got in really big trouble. When I went home, I told my parents and they were very proud of me for sticking up for myself. My parents and my friends were scared too because something could have happened to me. To this day I am so proud of myself for telling someone even though it was scary.
"I really wish the boy who threw that peanut candy at us understood how much we go through to stay safe and how scary it is for us." -Amelia Elliott
Amelia Elliott: In seventh grade, a boy threw peanut candy at my friend and me knowing we both had peanut allergies. He got in big trouble. That was a while ago and we’ve forgiven him, but I don’t think he realized how big of a deal that was then. People understand what food allergies are but if you don’t have a food allergy or a friend or family member who has one, it’s hard to really understand the challenges that come with them. It affects eating out ,traveling, and other situations where food is involved. When I eat out, I have to always ask the waiter or waitress if the order contains peanuts or tree nuts. In some cases, I can’t even eat at certain restaurants because they can’t guarantee that everything will be completely safe. When I travel to a different country where I don’t speak the language, I can’t always properly communicate with the waiters or waitresses. I really wish the boy who threw that peanut candy at us understood how much we go through to stay safe and how scary it is for us.
"I really just wish kids and adults could understand how hurtful it is to be excluded - it just doesn't have to be this way!" -Victoria Carrico
Victoria Carrico: Unfortunately, I have experienced so many incidents in grade school that I've lost count. I have been left out, excluded, lost friendships and learned who my true friends were. I honestly try to block out these memories to be able to stay positive and move on. The most recent incident that stands out for me was in eighth grade when the celebrations were organized by the school. The school wanted no part in ensuring safety, and pushed it to the school Moms. The assigned school Moms excluded my Mom and were not open to discussions. They didn’t want to deal with sharing any allergen information. They wanted to just make a blanket statement that everything was “peanut free”. Yet, to my Mom, me, and anyone with a severe life-threatening allergy this did not provide the degree of confidence needed. In the end, my Mom intercepted all events and ensured my safety by bringing “safe” food options for me to each of these events. I wish kids and adults could understand how hurtful it is to be excluded - it just doesn't have to be this way!
I was angry and sad but most of all frustrated that I had to be dealing with this when I should be happy and looking forward to eighth grade graduation, just like everyone else. I was also scared to attend the events because the situation was extremely stressful between my family, the school, and the uneducated yet judgemental parents. I really just wish kids and adults could understand how hurtful it is to be excluded - it just doesn't have to be this way!
For Kids or Teens with Food Allergies
School, homework, sports, extracurricular activities and more—you already have a lot on your plate. Managing your food allergy on top of all these things can feel like just one more thing to take care of. And it can make you feel different from your friends.
If you're a kid or teen experiencing food allergy bullying, we encourage you to talk to your parents or a teacher about what's happening.