The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands)

Boy picked on in play­ground for nut al­lergy

In the fi­nal part of our series mark­ing Al­lergy Aware­ness Week, Ben Hendry hears how a pupil al­ler­gic to peanuts was chased by class­mates with a ce­real bar

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Name-call­ing, punches and vi­cious whis­pers are among the most ob­vi­ous types of play­ground bul­ly­ing.

But a lead­ing spe­cial­ist has re­vealed that bul­lies are also tar­get­ing their class­mates be­cause of their al­ler­gies.

One child, who is al­ler­gic to eggs, had a jar of may­on­naise placed in their locker as a mean-spir­ited prank.

And a boy with a po­ten­tially deadly peanut al­lergy was chased around his play­ground by class­mates tor­ment­ing him with a nutty ce­real bar.

His mum said the in­ci­dent showed that there re­mains a lack of un­der­stand­ing about food al­ler­gies which can prove fa­tal in the case of ex­treme reactions.

She said: “Thank­fully he was okay, and the school dealt with it very well by us­ing it as an op­por­tu­nity for learn­ing.

“I have to think the chil­dren didn’t un­der­stand the possible con­se­quences of their ac­tions.

“It is hard enough liv­ing a life with these al­ler­gies at the best of times.”

Royal Aberdeen Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal al­lergy ex­pert Lor­raine Clark re­counted some of the in­ci­dents pa­tients have told her about, in­clud­ing the pupil chased with the nutty bar.

She said: “Hav­ing al­ler­gies, which can mean car­ry­ing around au­toin­jec­tors to re­lieve reactions, can make chil­dren self-con­scious.

“I feel that if more par­ents ed­u­cated their chil­dren about how harm­ful these al­ler­gies can be, per­haps bul­ly­ing be­hav­iour wouldn’t hap­pen.”

Aberdeen City Coun­cil ap­proved a new anti-bul­ly­ing pol­icy last sum­mer, shaped in the af­ter­math of the killing of 16-year-old Bai­ley Gwynne at Cults Academy in 2015.

Last night ed­u­ca­tion con­vener John Wheeler, above, re­it­er­ated that bul­ly­ing in any form would not be tol­er­ated. He sug­gested that al­lergy bul­ly­ing was an is­sue they may specif­i­cally look at in fu­ture.

He said: “Our anti-bul­ly­ing pol­icy is ex­plicit in stat­ing that no form of bul­ly­ing will be tol­er­ated in our schools re­gard­less of the form that bul­ly­ing takes. Staff are re­quired to be fa­mil­iar with our pol­icy and chil­dren and young peo­ple should avoid any kind of bul­ly­ing be­hav­iour and should watch out for signs of this be­hav­iour among their peers.

“This would in­clude al­lergy bul­ly­ing which is, of course, po­ten­tially lethal. Our pupils are made aware they have to re­port in­ci­dents of bul­ly­ing and that they can of­fer sup­port to those ex­pe­ri­enc­ing bul­ly­ing and, if possible, help them to tell a trusted adult or re­port di­rectly.

“While it would not be possible to de­sign learn­ing events around each and ev­ery form bul­ly­ing can take, this is some­thing that we can per­haps look into at some point.”

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