By Allergen Bureau

How many kids face food allergy-related bullying?

A new study found that the way kids with food allergies are asked about bullying gives a more accurate picture of the size and scope of the problem. Using this method has shown One in three kids with food allergies say they’ve been bullied because of their condition.

The US-based study looked at food allergy-related bullying among a diverse patient population that included 121 children and 121 primary caregivers who completed questionnaires. The children ranged in age from 9 to 15-years-old.

Of the 41 youth who reported food allergy-related bullying:

  • 51 per cent reported experiencing overt physical acts such as an allergen being waved in their face, thrown at them, or intentionally put in their food.
  • 66 per cent reported bullying experiences that are categorized as non-physical overt victimization acts including verbal teasing, remarks or criticisms about their allergy and verbal threats or intimidation.
  • Eight reported relational bullying, such as rumours being spread, people speaking behind their back and being intentionally ignored or excluded due to their food allergy.

When asked a simple yes/no question about food allergy-related bullying, 17 per cent of kids said they’d been bullied, teased, or harassed about their food allergy. But when asked to reply to a multi-item list of victimisation behaviours, that number jumped to 31 per cent. Only 12 per cent of parents reported being aware of it.

Researchers say identifying accurate assessment methods for this problem is critical so children can get the help they need. The results demonstrate a need for greater food allergy education and awareness of food allergy-related bullying among communities and schools where food allergy-related bullying is most likely to occur

Reference: Ramos et al. 2021. Journal of Pediatric Psychology. DOI: 10.1093/jpepsy/jsab019