In their publication, allergists from the Children’s National Hospital in Washington noted that food allergy greatly interferes with normal socialization in the children’s team, which is why such patients often become outcasts and objects of bullying. 121 children aged 9-15 took part in the new study. All volunteers were diagnosed with at least one of eight IgE-mediated food allergies – to peanuts, hazelnuts, cow’s milk, eggs, wheat, soy, fish and other foods.
When asked if they faced bullying because of their allergies, 17% of children answered in the affirmative. But when scientists asked a series of clarifying questions, this figure rose to 31%.
Among those who confessed to bullying, 51% reported that they periodically suffer from direct physical aggression from their peers, for example, they waved allergenic food in front of their face or deliberately mixed it into food to induce an attack. Another 66% of children are subjected to verbal threats and offensive criticism. Eight participants reported that classmates spread rumors about them and did not invite them to participate in joint activities.
It is noteworthy that only 12% of the parents of the participants reported that they knew about this problem, and not all of them (93%) learned about it from the child himself.
“The results of this study clearly demonstrate the need for widespread education in schools about food allergy and awareness of bullying associated with it,” the scientists said.