Over the past few days, the food allergy community has experienced much activity via social media regarding the start of school. Most recently, an author wrote a piece entitled “12 Reasons Why Peanut Free Schools Are Not Okay.” http://www.decisive-empowered-resilient.com/12-reasons-why-peanut-free-schools-are-not-okay This set off a firestorm. While I don’t agree with the author’s tone, I do agree with her points. (Yes, as a food allergy educator and a mom to 2 boys who have had anaphylaxis.)
Personally, I don’t think any food should be limited at any school. This is something I have always said. You can read over my other blog posts for the many reasons why, so I am going to try and keep this post not about bans, but the behavior of the food allergy community.
What has greatly disturbed me is how the food allergy community has responded to this article. And frankly, anytime anybody questions peanut bans. A healthy debate includes rational communication and civil behavior. The level of attack unleashed is astonishing.
We constantly worry about our children being bullied. Yet the worst kind of bullying is being done by these parents who attack and silence anyone who dares to ask mature questions on a complex topic. These attackers all say we need to show compassion and understanding. Yet, rather than showing compassion for any other allergy, they focus on peanuts and only have compassion for those with peanut allergies.
I watched as various Facebook groups were flooded with the lynching of this woman. This woman’s personal site was filled with attacks, threats, and judgments. Ultimately, she had to take her site down. I kept my mouth shut and watch in horror.
I myself have felt the bullying, both as a parent and a food allergy educator. When I recommend against peanut bans, it’s like I have committed a crime. Just this week I was kicked out of a Facebook group for expressing my opinion. Discussing peanut bans got me kicked out of a food allergy discussion group!
Being against a peanut ban does not make you an evil person. Being against a peanut ban does not mean you want to harm children. There is no villain in this story. Like so many things in this world, different situations require different approaches.
If we want to demand an inclusive atmosphere for our children, we must create an inclusive atmosphere for ourselves. We must be willing to accept that in some cases, a difference in opinion is simply that, a different perspective. Attacks and name-calling are never instructive or constructive. While we strive to educate others about the real dangers of food allergies, we must educate ourselves.