He laid on the floor gasping, barely conscious, as seconds ago he was running and playing. His eyes were barely open. What was normally smiling lips were now swollen and blue. As kids and adults stood gaping the babysitter knelt beside him “What do we do? What do we do?!” The medics arrived just in time to administer CPR and an Epi-pen. The boy was taken to the hospital.
Although that was not a true story, it easily could have been. The fact that someone can have an allergic reaction and no one knows what it is or what to do should be terrifying. Yet we live in a society that tries to hide the problem instead of educating people.
For example, in this article a school banned peanut products instead of educating the students. Students who typically eat peanut butter and jelly had to eat something else or skip lunch because someone has an allergy. This puts a lot of pressure on the child who is allergic to peanuts. The child will feel it is his or her fault, bearing unnecessary blame. The child will also feel shunned or unwanted because the other kids cannot do what they normally do.
One solution to a problem is education. Your child is in school and should be expected to learn about differences. Children should know about allergies, causes, effects, and how to handle them. The more people that know how to give Epi-pens and when, the better chance the one having the reaction has to survive. If education can save lives, wouldn’t school be an appropriate setting?
Most children who are allergic know they are allergic. They also know to avoid these foods and the people that have eaten them. There is no reason to penalize these children for having allergies by separating them from other children when they already know not to get near them. Maybe the children who bring food containing peanuts should be the ones to be separated from other students.
The children that eat known allergen products need to know that they need to wash their hands after lunch. Elementary school is a great time to teach children to wash hands before and after eating. Most schools have sinks in the classrooms. The teachers can easily allow washing after lunch.
Separation may be the only practical solution. However, separation should be done in such a way that everyone gets affected. That way no student will feel like he or she is doing something wrong or is not “normal”.
More from Jane Vee:
Autism – Where to Find Information
Nutritious Snacks for Kids that You Can Pack in a School Lunch Box
Prepare Children for Emergencies
How to Talk to Your Children About Money
Children’s Table for Holiday Dinners