Teens in the Real World
  Food Allergies in the Real World  

Calling in the Cavalry

By Sara, age 14. Allergic to peanuts and tree nuts.

Some people really don’t understand how hard it can be living with a food allergy. They see it as something they can make jokes about or even torment people with. My mom always taught me that if someone makes fun of you, they are really expressing how they feel about themselves.

Bullying was never that bad in middle school. People always asked the usual questions about food allergies. What happens? Have you ever eaten your allergen before? What happens if you have just a little bit? It never really bothered me, because I knew they were just curious about it. It all changed once I entered high school. My guidance counselor thought it would be a good idea to put signs on my desk that said “Do not sit,” since there might be other kids from different periods eating in the room. More and more people started finding out. Then kids started teasing me about it. I thought it was just a joke at first, but after a while I felt like I was being attacked.

One day in lunch, some girls at the table next to me and my friends were making fun of my allergy. They even threatened to get peanut butter cups. I didn’t think it was funny, and it got me really upset because none of my friends even stood up for me. I just left the cafeteria and told a friend’s mom that works in the school. I felt a lot better after talking to her. I realized that those girls were really immature and they had no respect for themselves or other people.

Another time during my first year in high school, some boys were joking around about my allergy. They brought in an empty peanut can for a class project and started joking around about how they would rub the can around my seat to see if anything would happen. I took it seriously and told my mom, who told the assistant principal. The principal talked to the class but didn’t single anyone out. I am glad he didn’t and was just able to talk to the whole class.

The important thing to remember is never to take the jokes or bullying too personally. It really just shows how immature the bully is.
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