My son could have died today by the hands of a bully. He is a bright first grader who enjoys life and everything in it. He is a normal child who would rather build a tower with his blocks before he would harm a fly.
My wife and I have taught him about the ills of the world and he respects the value of life. He lives each day to the fullest with a regard not seen from someone at the innocent age of six. My son Anthony has been a fighter from his first breath. He was born premature, overcame the effects of Plagiocephaly, and lives with the affects of a severe peanut allergy.
Anthony’s peanut allergy is so severe that he has an adult strength epinephrine pen in the event Benadryl does not take away effects of a reaction. We have taught Anthony to be aware of his surroundings and not put himself in a situation where his health and safety are in question. During the family grocery trips, Anthony holds his breath when he passes the jar peanut butter out of fear he will get sick. He understands the effects, but he wants to be cautious. We have even taught him to understand the difference between items which are processed on equipment and items processed in a facility which manufactures peanuts.
The opportunity lies with other parents that do not have a child living with a severe allergy. The insensitivity which can occur. Not from the parent, but from the parent to the child. From his first day of school, we have told teachers of Anthony’s allergy. We have entrusted his safety to his school on a daily basis.
This leads me to the aspects of bullying. A bully will torment someone perceived to be of a weaker status by means of physical, verbal, or emotional abuse. In this case, my son was bullied with food. The thought may appear to be awkward, but the bully knows my son’s “weakness” and attempts to overpower him.
The teachers have told the other students there is someone in class that has a severe allergy. Notes have been sent home to parents asking them not to bring in homemade goods. Barring a complete denial of peanut butter products in school, peanut butter based products are still allowed.
The bullying appeared to be harmless at first, waving a peanut butter sandwich in his direct and watching him squirm in fear. Later the torment became worse. This time another child decided to hold a peanut butter cookie near him and target his allergy. The child came too close and Anthony had an allergic reaction. Fortunately he was rushed to the school nurse and received a dose of Benadryl.
Will the same happen tomorrow or the next day? I hope not. You see, bullying does not have to be in traditional forms to still be bullying. The children were attempting to prove their “strength” at the expense of my son’s life.
As a parent, I have taught my children about the effects of bullying. I ask you to spend five minutes with your child and let them know even something as small as a cookie can be a vehicle for bullying.