Study finds one in three kids with food allergies are bullied

A new study has determined the size and scope of bullying that kids with food allergies experience by offering them a multi-question assessment. The findings of the study were published in the ‘Journal of Pediatric Psychology’.

In the study of more than 100 kids with food allergies, nearly one-third said they had been subject to some form of food allergy-related bullying. “We also found that only 12% of parents reported that their child was bullied for food allergies, which tells us they don’t always know when bullying is happening,” said study lead author Linda Herbert. Herbert is director of the psychosocial clinical program in the Children’s National Hospital division of allergy & immunology, in Washington, D.C.

When asked a simple “yes” or “no” question about food allergy-related bullying, 17 per cent of kids said they’d been bullied, teased or harassed about their food allergy. But when asked to reply to a multi-item list of victimisation behaviours, that number jumped to 31 per cent.Furthermore, Children’s National Hospital researchers found that only 12 per cent of parents reported being aware of it.

The reported bullying ranged from verbal teasing or criticism to more overt acts such as an allergen being waved in their face or intentionally put in their food.

“It’s important to find ways for children to open up about food allergy-related bullying. Asking additional specific questions about peer experiences during clinic appointments will hopefully get children and caregivers the help and support they need,” Herbert concluded.

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