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
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.”