Of those experiencing teasing or harassment, 86 percent were reported to have experienced repeated episodes. Classmates were the most common perpetrators, but surprisingly more than 20 percent reported harassment or teasing from teachers and other school staff.
Led by Doctor Scott H. Sicherer, Jaffe Food Allergy Institute at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, researchers analyzed survey responses from 353 parents or caregivers of children with food allergies and food-allergic individuals.
"We know that food allergy in children affects quality of life and causes issues like anxiety, depression, and stress for them and their parents," said Sicherer. "However, our study is the first to explore teasing, harassment and bullying behaviors aimed at these children. The results are disturbing, as they show that children not only have to struggle with managing their food allergies, but also commonly bear harassment from their peers."
More than 43 percent were reported to have had the allergen waved in their face and 64 percent were reported as having experienced verbal teasing. No allergic reactions resulted from the bullying, but approximately 65 percent reported resulting feelings of depression and embarrassment.
"It was recently estimated that nearly one in 25 children has a food allergy," said Sicherer. "What is so concerning about these results is the high rate of teasing, harassment and bullying, its impact on these vulnerable children, and the fact that perpetrators include not only other children, but adults as well. Considering the seriousness of food allergy, these unwanted behaviors risk not only adverse emotional outcomes, but physical risks as well. It is clear that efforts to rectify this issue must address a better understanding of food allergies as well as strict no-bullying programs in schools."
MEDICA.de; Source: The Mount Sinai Hospital / Mount Sinai School of Medicine