Teens in the Real World
  Food Allergies in the Real World  

Handling Bullies With Ease

By Caitlin, age 16. Allergic to peanuts and tree nuts.

I have been very fortunate throughout my life not to have encountered many people who are unsympathetic about my food allergy. Usually when there was an issue, it was because someone simply forgot or just wasn’t thinking about it. I have never really encountered a genuine bully who was malicious in teasing me about my allergy. My friends jokingly tease me sometimes, but that’s because we are so close that we can do things like that to each other. They would be the first ones to get help if anything serious ever happened.

I do remember one time in first grade; a boy in my class sort of taunted me about not being able to have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch. He said he was going to bring one in to see what would happen to me. Looking back now, it was just childish immaturity and ignorance that caused him to say what he said, but as a first grader it made me nervous. I told the teacher, who talked to him and made him apologize. He said he never really meant any of it and that he was just trying to be funny.

In high school, there was no real bullying about my allergy. People were mostly curious. However, my boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend did not like it that we were dating, and so she started spreading around mean jokes about us and my food allergy. The remarks really hurt, because my boyfriend was very supportive and understanding of my allergy, but I tried not to take it too seriously because I understood she was venting. I didn’t want to retaliate in any way, because I knew she would move on from the whole thing. Soon enough she did, and the remarks disappeared after about a week.

I would say that if the bullying becomes a serious and everyday thing, you should tell an authority figure you trust to handle it properly, so that they can aid you in stopping the problem. The best thing to do is not to give in to bullies, but to try educating them. Often they simply do not understand what it is they are teasing you about. There will be a few stubborn people who just do not wish to broaden their minds beyond belittling others with disabilities like food allergies, so it is best to just ignore those individuals and to surround yourself with people who really care about you.

 

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