Can Kids Bully Others With Food Allergies?

On behalf of Peterson, Berk & Cross, S.C.

As you know, it can be life-threatening if your child has an allergy to certain types of food. Other adults and children should also understand this important fact, but food allergy bullying is not often recognized in schools. You and other Wisconsin parents who have kids with allergies need to know about this dangerous form of bullying.

Children might think it is funny to deliberately expose their classmates to something they are allergic to, but this behavior is neither funny nor acceptable. According to, about one-third of children with food allergies have reported being bullied at some point by their peers or adults who should know better. Your child might experience the following types of food allergy bullying:

  • A classmate might rub an allergen, such as peanut butter, onto a surface that your child makes frequent contact with, like a keyboard or desktop.
  • During lunch, a student might shove an allergen into your child’s face or dare him or her to take a bite.
  • A child might deliberately bring a treat to share with the class that includes ingredients your child is allergic to.

Why do children bully others with food allergies? Some kids are simply bullies and will use anything they can to taunt or show superiority over another child. Other children might resent not being allowed to bring a certain food to lunch or to share with the class. Some children might not realize their behavior is bullying, but might think it is harmless to tease a classmate with allergies or play a prank involving an allergen. Adults can also participate in food allergy bullying. Your child’s coach or teacher or another parent might not think an allergy is a big deal, and could offer your child a treat with the allergen to try to prove this point.

Bullying with a food allergy is something you and your child should never have to worry about. Like other forms of harassment or assault, this behavior can result in serious harm, and may give you the right to seek compensation.