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In some cases, peanut bans needed at schools

Submitted by on Monday, 1 September 2008 No Comment

Here’s reason No. 5,731 teen-agers scare the crap out of me:

A 14-year-old boy died at school in Australia two years ago after classmates dared him to eat a peanut.

Think playground taunts of the food allergic are limited to down under? Consider this tale I heard recently from a school nurse about an incident in my county, also about two years ago.

Seems a bunch of bullies thought it would be a kick to play “rub the anaphylactic kid’s face with a peanut butter sandwich.” This girl, like Big Guy, was contact allergic. Luckily, she knew to immediately run to the nurse’s office for Benadryl and monitoring.

Three bullies were immediately suspended.

That reassured me that I could let Big Guy continue in kindergarten, which was a relief. His father and I are both short, but at some point when he cracked 5-feet tall or so, folks would have started to suspect that he was older than 5.

It does raise the question, though, that a school in New Zealand is pondering now that it has an anaphylactic student enrolled. Should peanuts be totally banned from schools?

The New Zealand school in question tried limiting the ban to the child’s classroom but found he still was being exposed to trace amounts of peanut, according to a newspaper there.

Predictably, some parents were upset. One woman complained that her daughter would not longer be able to “enjoy her favorite peanut butter sandwiches,” the paper reported. Others lamented the economic impact.

On some level, I’m sympathetic. Big Guy is one of the pickiest eaters on the planet — an issue I honestly believe is related to his food allergies — and I’d be a bit put out if there were something he would eat but was going to be banned from taking to school. And in this day, for some families the financial impact of losing a cheap lunch protein can cause real pain.

However — and this is a huge however — when a school has tried everything short of a ban to keep a kid healthy and it doesn’t work, what alternative is left? And why can’t people understand that for some children, there is no way other than a ban.

We’re not anywhere near that point with Big Guy’s school. Peanuts are banned in his classroom, but not from the entire campus. I would not hesitate to request a ban, though, if classmates decided to start using their lunches as lethal weapons.

Copyright 2008 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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