Friday, March 25, 2011

Ignorance



I don't know if you have seen the news from Florida, but there is a little girl who is 6 with a severe peanut allergy. The school has the children wash their hands and rinse their mouths when they get to school and after lunch. They are not allowed to have food in the classroom. Parents are upset by these restrictions and are protesting outside the school with signs and chants. They are demanding the restrictions be lifted and/or this child be home schooled.

That just breaks my heart.

I just cannot fathom what it must be like for that little girl and her family. To be vilified for a medical condition. How can people be so cruel?

I think there is so much misinformation about food allergies and surprisingly little tolerance for those who are different from the masses. I suppose it shouldn't really surprise me because there is so much hate and knee jerk reactions...especially when it comes to children. Our children are precious but your little darling is no more precious than mine. Your child's snack might kill mine.


Just ponder that for a moment.

This school was not peanut free and people are mad about hygiene. They are upset that their kids can't have dirty hands and cupcakes...not that this little girl walks in fear and with an outcast because of things beyond her control. Never mind the fact that she has a RIGHT to be educated. People throw around "right" far too often these days but in this instance it is legitimate. The school must make accommodations for her. There is no right to PB&J...which they did not take away, they just ask that you clean up afterwards.

Food allergies are on the rise. She will not be the last nut allergic kid to attend that school. People need to educate themselves about food allergies and intolerances. Just because your child doesn't suffer from allergies doesn't mean his/her best friend isn't highly allergic to your favorite snack. I bet if you ask your grade school aged child they will tell you all about food allergies. Who is allergic to what and what they do at school. Kids are fast learners and want to help and protect their friends. They don't want to banish them. They are accepting, understanding and compassionate. They *get* it, where as most adults do not. Adults should learn from the young...you never know everything and sometimes you need a little wake up call to what is really important in life. I'm pretty sure cupcakes and dirty hands aren't highest on the list.

I have family members say, "Oh just a little bit won't hurt" or leave a bowl of nuts out on the counter. I've seen people offer food to Raph and he says, "No I'm allergic to that" or to Heidi and one of the boys reminds them that Heidi is allergic. These are FAMILY members who don't take the time to educate themselves or simply don't care because it doesn't effect their kids or their lives.

I think, as with most things in life, people must step back from the moment. Put aside what they are feeling and look at the bigger picture. Our life goes beyond our living room. Relationships should not be ruined because we cannot see past our own noses. Our community relies on mutual respect and educating the masses about pertinent issues. What are you teaching your children by protesting and demanding a little girl leave because she has a medical condition? Would you want me to raise a sign outside your school demanding your child leave because she has diabetes or some other disease? Your child makes me uncomfortable therefore you should just leave. If you are allergic to dogs would you want me to rub my dander covered clothes on your face? Its your problem after all, not mine.



Ignorance is rampant. Clearly these protesting parents are ignorant of what a life with allergies is like...that or they are simply callous. I'm hoping they are ignorant and in that case the school failed because they should have educated those families. Before Raph has started a new school year a note goes home to all the parents. His new school was more thorough and explained food allergies, ways to prevent exposure and the consequences of an accidental exposure. The flier also listed additional resources for further reading and the nurse's phone number if they had any questions. We should not embrace ignorance, we should rise above it. Learn something today. It doesn't have to be about food allergies or intolerances (though I highly recommend it) but something you don't know. There is something floating around in your life that you do not understand...understand it. You will be better for it.

2 comments:

The Happy Mother said...

I can't believe these parents! It is so simple for the kids to take these precautions- I cannot believe they are making such a big deal. They are raising their kids to be very soft and that is sad. I have heard parents say "if my kid cannot eat peanut butter, he'll starve- he doesn't eat anything else!"- that is a problem of bad parenting. They only eat peanut butter because the parents are too lazy to make them eat anything else. I have no sympathy for those parents.
NONE of my 5 children has allergies, but I still take precautions for the sake of others. If we have children over for a playdate, I always ask the parents if the kids have allergies, so I can plan ahead. Same thing when we have families over for dinner or bring dinner to them.
These days everyone is up in arms over second hand smoke. Peanuts can be instantly lethal for some children. Second hand smoke will never kill anyone the minute they walk into a bar, yet most establishments are smoke free. Why are we willing to have all restaurants (and other public places) be smoke free but we won't allow schools to be nut free?
On my blog, I asked for suggestions for meat-free school lunch ideas for my kids (other than peanut butter) and people gave me great ideas! Enough to get us through Lent and then some!

Erin said...

I saw that news story too and was similarly appalled. I comforted myself by saying that it was national news worthy only because it was so absurd. Then again, people in Florida are NUTS.

On the other hand, I'm really happy to hear how Raph's school took a proactive role in educating fellow parents.