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Assault with a Deadly Peanut?

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After a 13-year-old was arrested for trying to harm a child with a severe peanut allergy, one Mom shares her personal story.


A teen was busted recently for intentionally planting peanut butter cookie crumbs in the lunchbox of a classmate who had a severe
peanut allergy.

Unfortunately, this isn't the first case of this kind of insidiously dangerous bullying. Mom•Logic spoke with Lisa VanEssendelft, a Mom whose own allergy-stricken children have both been "peanut bullied" at school.

Mom•Logic: Your daughter Sarah was bullied last spring?

Lisa: There was a group of about five girls in Sarah's class who decided they no longer wanted her sitting at their lunch table. Their way of getting her to leave was to bring in peanut butter sandwiches. They said to her, "You can't sit here, we're eating peanut butter."

Sarah sat at a different lunch table that day, and the girls at her new lunch table said to her, "We'll keep you safe, you can stay."

A week later, someone in her tech class innocently opened a package of peanut butter cups in the back of the classroom. It sent her to the hospital.

The girls at Sarah's new lunch table (who said they'd keep her safe) decided she was lying--there was no way she could have an allergy attack just by smelling peanut butter. They planned to bring in peanut butter sandwiches and anything they could find with nuts in it, and not tell Sarah. They wanted to see what
would happen.

One of Sarah's friends told Sarah not to come to lunch on Monday because this is what they were planning. I went to the principal's office Monday morning before school to give him a heads up. Sarah didn't go to lunch that day, and hasn't been in the cafeteria since then.

Mom•Logic: What was your reaction when you heard about the 13-year-old student in Lexington, KY who allegedly put peanut butter cookies crumbs in a student's lunchbox to make the kid sick?

Lisa: I felt so bad for the victim's parents. They need to press charges against these kids who are using this bullying tactic. If a bully pushes you in the hallway or calls you "ugly," you can walk away. If a bully exposes you to your allergen, they start a process and you can't just walk away. They can put a child into anaphylaxis shock, and "I'm sorry" doesn't make it better! It could be deadly.

Mom•Logic: What are your thoughts on this new breed of cruelty?

Lisa: I don't understand it. Last week, I watched the video of the young girl who was beaten up by the cheerleaders, and I feel this is on the same level of violence. I don't understand how these kids are becoming so desensitized to the consequences of their actions at such an early age.

Mom•Logic: What is your message to Moms?

Lisa: I want Moms who are raising allergic kids to know they're not alone. I didn't know that until I plugged into a local support group. I didn't realize there are support groups nationwide. I also feel parents should advocate for their children. Be consistent and have a good working relationship with the school.

All parents need to have serious conversations with their kids who don't have allergies, explaining that it's not just lips that swell when an allergic kid has a reaction--all of their organs swell, including their lungs and liver. Their body swells and their organs can't function. I hope kids will be more compassionate. If not, they could end up in jail.

For more information on protecting kids with allergies, visit Protect
Allergic Kids

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