Gluten Free Bullying – is it happening to you?

sad childIs your child’s packed lunch safe?

There was a rather scary story on the message board from a mother whose daughter is coeliac. One of the other children at school has taken to ‘accidentally’ dropping not-gluten-free food into her packed lunch, rendering it inedible.

I think this is classic bullying. Unfortunately, the teachers seem to be treating it as accidental, and don’t understand the serious effect this could have:

  • if the child throws her food away (which she is), then she’ll be hungry, and not able to concentrate
  • if the child gambles, and eats the food, she could suffer:
    • vomiting and/or diarrhoea (neither of which the teacher will enjoy having to deal with in class)
    • brain fog, making her unable to concentrate
    • and possibly a host of other symptoms, as well as long-term damage.

This is obviously bad for the child, but also difficult for the teachers and other staff …

Luckily we’ve never had to handle this kind of bullying. We’ve had to deal with other bullying (both physical and psychological), but never anything to do with being gluten free.

How would you handle this?

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Lucy is the mother of a coeliac, and has been managing a gluten free diet for her daughter for 20 years - though, to be fair, she does do most of it herself now...

10 thoughts on “Gluten Free Bullying – is it happening to you?”

  1. Bullying? Yes.
    However, I think this goes beyond that. It’s reckless endangerment.
    What if this child had a different allergy – life-threatening – like to nuts?
    And the other bullying child decided to “see what would happen if”.

    GOOD LORD the thought terrifies me.

    The parents need to contact the school (administrators, teachers, etc) immediately and demand intervention on their child’s behalf.

    Besides – in the long run – that other child (the bully) MUST learn NOT to behave this way with other human beings and also to learn how dangerous and life-threatening these actions can be.


  2. My sixteen year old has to protect his lunch at all times or someone will “accidentally” toss some cookies, bread or chips on his lunch…which he then throws away his lunch and goes hungry because there is nothing safe for him to eat at school.

  3. Bullying is awful, isn’t it? And children can be so unaware of the consequences …

    My experience of the way schools handle bullying at the moment is that there tend to be a lot of excuses made by the professionals for the way the bullying child is behaving (her grandfather recently died, it was an accident, she’s a big child and so isn’t really aware of where her limbs are (!), etc etc)

    Verna, I’m very interested to hear that the child on the message board isn’t the only one who’s had this experience, and astonished to hear that even teenagers can behave in this way. You would hope, wouldn’t you, that nearly-adults would have learnt how to fit into society a bit better!

  4. The problem is the school and not the other child. They are, after all, a child and need to be advised that their behavior is wrong and that bullying is bad.

    I think pressure should be put on the school by the parents. start with a request for a meeting with the teacher, if they are not taking this seriously then escalate to the head teacher. Don’t hesitate to get your doctor involved also – a letter to the head outlining the medical risks will often get their attention.

    Unfortunately some adults don’t take coeliac condition seriously because they lack knowledge. We just have to persevere.

  5. Hi Erika … for some reason your comment got marked as spam, so I’ve only just found it. Thank you for commenting. The idea of getting a doctor to write to the head is a good one – I hadn’t thought of that as a possibility before.

  6. I haven’t run into this here in the US, but I have heard of it happening mostly with children who have severe allergies. That makes a very scary situation.

    Sheltie Girl @ Gluten A Go Go

  7. Scary – and getting through it depends on the child being strong enough to to give in and eat the contaminated food. Not always easy when you are a child managing this kind of situation alone …

  8. If I have any gluten at all, I develop the lesions that can happen to Celiacs, not just the diarrhea and general unwellness.

    I read on a well-known Celiac awareness site that when gluten is freely eaten by a Celiac, they tend to develop a few cancers. Scary.

  9. Hi Mina – lesions as well: how very unpleasant for you.

    I know the cancer worry is scary, but at least you know what to do to avoid it. Think if you weren’t diagnosed, and were still eating gluten … I think its better to know these things.

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