Food Allergy Parent vs. Food Allergy Parent

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.

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2 responses to “Food Allergy Parent vs. Food Allergy Parent

  1. My son had multiple anaphylactic allergies going into kindergarten (peanuts, tree nuts, milk, egg, shellfish). He also was contact allergic. It was too difficult to ban everything, so the school and I chose not to ban anything. I was fortunate though to have my son in a school that was serious about his allergies, were very careful as well as communicative and also allowed me to be involved as much as possible when he was young. I am thankful that nothing ever happened to him the 13 years that he was at school. Having gone through school with no ban, I think it prepared him for real life as in the real world, his allergens are everywhere and would have been everywhere when he was not at school or home. I feel that if there is a ban, that the child can get a false sense of security and may be more likely to accidently come in contact with an allergen when they don’t expect it. Without a ban, I think the child also learns and practices more skills in how to keep themselves safe. I also wanted to say that my son did not have asthma, and I understand that some kids who do can be sensitive to the smell of peanut. This is where a ban can be most important.

  2. Harriet, I’m very sorry you got booted from the Facebook group, but I really have no sympathy for the writer of the post.

    She deliberately picked a group of medically vulnerable children for her “hot topic.” condescendingly said that keeping them safe was less important than the feelings of “healthy and normal” children, and told their parents they’re bad role models because they’re asking for “special rights!”

    Throwing that stink bomb virtually guaranteed that there wouldn’t be any kind respectful discussion in response, regardless of the merit of any point she may have raised. Now she is acting like a victim, because she kicked over a hornets’ nest and got stung.

    I think the worst damage she caused was by inciting fights within the food allergy community, like the one you were caught up in.

    I managed to stay out of the Facebook brawls, and have finally calmed down enough to write my own response: http://www.allergickid.com/2015/09/education-isnt-special-right.html.

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