When going through your childhood memories, you may remember bullying as something you experienced in school. Bullying can be emotionally painful and leave lifelong mental scars, as you are aware. Bullying may even be physically threatening for Pennsylvania children. You know that bullies might shove, kick or strike their victims, but you may not have heard about a lesser-known, but potentially even more harmful, form of abuse – food allergy bullying.

An incident that occurred last December at a school in Butler, Pennsylvania, describes food allergy bullying and the harm it can cause. Reportedly, three girls planned to target a girl with a severe allergy to pineapple. One of the girls rubbed pineapple juice on her hand and gave the other girl a high five. Her resulting allergic reaction sent her to the hospital, and the girls involved in the prank faced criminal charges.

Food allergy bullying against your child can take many forms, as the following examples show:

  • A student sneaking an allergen into your child’s lunch or snack
  • A bully contaminating your child’s desk, computer keyboard, cellphone or pen with a known allergen, such as peanut butter
  • A parent or teacher deliberately serving snacks that contain the allergen, with the aim of “proving” that your child does not really have an allergy

As you can imagine, bullying someone with a food allergy can have serious consequences, including hives, difficulty breathing, hospitalization and even death. If your child is severely allergic to certain foods, it is the responsibility of the school to alert other parents to the allergy and take measures to prevent your child’s exposure, such as banning the food from the classroom or cafeteria. Parents should also explain the potentially deadly consequences to their children and warn them that assaulting an allergic child with food may be considered a crime.