Mr. Peanut: Public Enemy

Mr. PeanutFood allergies are a serious thing and can be life-threatening, but some advocating for the protection of allergic kids in school suggest that even elementary school students who, for example, wave a granola bar in the face of an allergic child be charged with assault, up to attempted murder, and then murder. 

It seems to me there may be some in-school supervisory and disciplinary steps before getting to this level, because I’m not sure that 3rd graders who are dealing with lunch tables segregated by allergic condition necessarily belong in SuperMax facilities for being idiotic with their PB&Js.  But if they do. . . this guy is de facto PUBLIC ENEMY No. 1.


  1. Megan Frampton

    Okay, so when I was younger, my mom had me convinced that I was allergic to eggs (likely because she is sensitive to eggs, and assumed I would be also). My classmates knew as well, so they thought it was a hoot and a half to wave hard-boiled eggs in my face to try to get me sick.
    Not that my nonexistent allergy was life-threatening, but I can see where a really mean, thoughtless kid might do something like that to a kid with a severe peanut allergy. So I have some sympathy for the lawmakers and parents, even though it seems silly on its face.

  2. Clare 2e

    I have sympathy for the seriousness of the condition–I just think threatening 3rd graders with felony convictions may be overkill–no pun intended–and that they can’t really understand what that means anyway. Detention, suspension, principal’s office, I think they get.

  3. Terrie Farley Moran

    I have to go with Megan on this one. Peanut allergy (and many other allergies) are not a joke. Life threatening means the allergic child could die in minutes or even seconds. The link in your article points to the real culprits–parents who are so unaware or uncaring that they think it is okay for their child to taunt an allergic child. So if it takes a law to get the message across to the parents, so be it. Peanut allergy doesn’t result in a bad case of hives. It closes the throat and causes death. By first grade, age 6, every child should know that if they are told in school that this is a serious issue, it should be treated as such. The parents of all students have a responsibility to enforce the school rules regarding peanuts, not reject them. Clare, and how do you think the third graders would feel about a dead classmate? That is what these rules are trying to prevent. It is all about getting the message to the parents.

  4. Christopher Morgan

    Ok, so say a kid takes bullying with a peanut-butter sandwhich a little too far and a child dies. We take the fact that they can be charged with assualt further along it’s logical course and now we have a 3rd grader charged with murder. Are we prepared to start sentencing 3rd graders to the death penalty (the punishment for murder in areas of the country)? I am not allergic so I may be a little insensitive, but it seems that threatining kids with hard time is a bit extreme. Not even touching the idea of getting kicked out of school (the punishment for carrying a weapon to my HS) for brining in a PB&J…

  5. Clare 2e

    I guess that’s where I’m at- not that it isn’t serious, but that the immediate necessity to stop the behavior before it starts is more effective with the tools that teachers and staff and YES parents! already have before jumping to “attempted murder.” I have also heard of some allergic kids who have been so stigmatized by the extreme standards that they don’t have any non-food-sensitive friends because no one’s allowed to get near them and they’re made pariahs. I think that’s sad, too.

    Maybe someone knows the annual numbers of deaths by food allergen outside the home versus in outdoor pools or by other accidents for elementary school-aged children? I know it’s a morbid question, but maybe I just don’t have the right idea of the prevalence of the problem.

  6. Teresa Nielsen Hayden

    Peanut allergy awareness has the same problem meteorologists have with hurricane evacuation warnings: if their warnings are going to be effective, they have to sometimes be wrong.

    At the same time, threatening to charge children with assault for waving a granola bar at a kid with peanut allergies is not a good way to get the problem taken seriously.

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