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ACAAI > Patients & Public > Newsroom > What's New

Where There's an Allergy, There's a Bully
School bullying goes beyond teasing for allergic kids

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill (September 7, 2012) — Name calling is a petty task for today’s bully. Instead they’re preying on food allergic children, stuffing peanut butter cookies in lockers and turning bullying into a possible death defying nightmare.

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), an astonishing 79 percent of food allergic children say they are bullied because of their food allergy. And 57 percent report being touched or harassed by a food allergen, such as peanuts, dairy and eggs.

“Food allergies are serious and shouldn’t be taken lightly in schools, especially when it comes to bullying,” said allergist Stanley Fineman, MD, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. “There is always the possibility of anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction that occurs suddenly, can worsen quickly and can cause death.”

A 2010 study published in Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, ACAAI’s scientific journal, showed that 80 percent of food bullying incidents happen while at school. Food bullying can range from verbal teasing to forceful acts of making a student come in contact with an allergen.

“The number of food allergic children within the United States is rising,” said Dr. Fineman. “In 2010, it was estimated that four percent of children had food allergies. That number has doubled to about eight percent, today.”

The warning signs of food bullying are similar to other forms of bullying. ACAAI has put together the below warning signs parents should watch for in their children:

  • Signs of depression and withdraw
  • No desire or fear of going to school
  • Changes in eating habits and weight loss
  • A change in behavior and sleep patterns
  • Bringing home a full lunchbox or not eating lunch at school

Parents should ensure their child’s school and teachers are aware of their food allergy, and have the proper medications available. Children should also know the Be S.A.F.E. action steps in the event they come in contact with food allergens. Christian Kloser is a teen with a severe peanut allergy, who offers tips on how to deal with food bullying in this video. If your child is being food bullied, inform the school immediately. More information about food allergies in children can be found at

The ACAAI is a professional medical organization headquartered in Arlington Heights, Ill., that promotes excellence in the practice of the subspecialty of allergy and immunology. The College, comprising more than 5,700 allergists-immunologists and related health care professionals, fosters a culture of collaboration and congeniality in which its members work together and with others toward the common goals of patient care, education, advocacy and research. For more information, visit

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