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Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2010 Oct;105(4):282-6. doi: 10.1016/j.anai.2010.07.011.

Bullying among pediatric patients with food allergy.

Author information

1
Elliot and Roslyn Jaffe Food Allergy Institute, Division of Allergy and Immunology, Department of Pediatrics, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York, USA. Jay.lieberman@mssm.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

There are reports of children and teens with food allergy being harassed because of their food allergy, yet no study to date has attempted to characterize these occurrences.

OBJECTIVES:

To determine the presence and characteristics of bullying, teasing, or harassment of food-allergic patients owing to their food allergies.

METHODS:

Questionnaires were completed by food-allergic teens and adults and by parents of food-allergic children.

RESULTS:

A total of 353 surveys were completed. Because most food-allergic individuals were children, most surveys were completed by parents of food-allergic individuals. The ages of the food-allergic individuals were younger than 4 years (25.9%), 4 to 11 years (55.0%), 12 to 18 years (12.5%), 19 to 25 years (2.6%), and older than 25 years (4.0%). Including all age groups, 24% of respondents reported that the food-allergic individual had been bullied, teased, or harassed because of food allergy. Of those who were bullied, teased, or harassed, 86% reported multiple episodes. Eighty-two percent of episodes occurred at school, and 80% were perpetrated mainly by classmates. Twenty-one percent of those who were bullied, teased, or harassed reported the perpetrators to be teachers or school staff. Overall, 79% of those bullied, teased, or harassed attributed this solely to food allergy. Of those bullied, 57% described physical events, such as being touched by an allergen and having an allergen thrown or waved at them, and several reported intentional contamination of their food with allergen.

CONCLUSIONS:

Bullying, teasing, and harassment of children with food allergy seems to be common, frequent, and repetitive. These actions pose emotional and physical risks that should be addressed in food allergy management.

PMID:
20934627
DOI:
10.1016/j.anai.2010.07.011
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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