The Big Debate: Should Peanuts Be Banned at School?

When it comes to food allergies one of the most heated debates occurs when the topic is about the need for peanut-free schools and classrooms. The divide between those who fall on both ends of the spectrum seems to come from a matter of experience- those whose children are in serious danger from a nut allergy and have seen the effects first-hand on their children’s health and indeed, very life and those who simply have not been exposed to these dangers and do not see the issue as ‘such a big deal.’

What we need to keep in mind is that food allergies are on the increase and more and more children starting school have at least one serious allergy.

While parents have control in the safe haven of their own home once their food allergy child is of school age it can be a daunting and often frightening proposition to send them to school.

Paramount, of course, is doing all we can to keep all children safe and out of harm’s way, but secondly, what needs to be understood is that allergic students may often feel left out not just unsafe, but socially awkward and worse- isolated or even bullied at school.

The other consideration needs to be the teachers; with the increase in allergies comes an increase of a teacher’s responsibilities and duties. Anyone who has experienced an anaphylactic episode will tell you it can be an extremely stressful situation and as teachers are on the front line of a child’s care at school their voices, opinions and contributions need to be heard and taken seriously.

Some critics claim that the problem with having nut free schools is that it presents a ‘false sense of security.’ This view simply undermines food allergy sufferers and their caregivers who know firsthand that regardless of how vigilant one is occurrences will still happen. There is never a 100% guarantee of a nut-free or any allergen free environment.

The difference is that in a nut free class or school there will be less chance of contact with the food in question and thus, naturally fewer reactions or emergency situations.

We appreciate it’s a sensitive issue for all sides, but it is an outright life-saving issue for some dealing with these allergies.

Whether a school decides to be ‘nut free’ or ‘egg-free’ or any other food restriction intended to protect children attending their school, it does seem clear there needs to be open communication with all parties involved.

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