It’s time to talk peanut allergies. And whether schools should ban things like peanut butter to protect allergic students from possible exposure.
Symptoms of an allergic reaction happen within minutes of exposure and can range from mild hives and itchiness, to life-threatening anaphylactic shock, where the airway swells shut. Experts say that the rate of peanut allergies has more than tripled.
And parents of severely allergic children are understandably worried, afraid that a smear of peanut butter on a jungle gym, or box of crayons - and then rubbed into nose, eyes or mouth - could send their child to the hospital, or worse. So many schools have decided to reduce the risk by banning all nuts and nut products from campus.
But a lot of parents think bans take things too far, and put the needs of one child above all others. Peanut bans in schools often lead to a flurry of angry phone calls and letters to local newspapers. Some communities even circulate petitions asking school officials to change their minds. Because kids have to learn to protect themselves in a world that’s not peanut-free.
Even allergy groups like The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network recommends schools treat each student's allergy individually and adopt plans that emphasize preparation and caution, rather than food bans. Like, focusing on educating school staff on ways to prevent or deal with a reaction, like by having easy access to an Epi-Pen – a fast-acting injection which helps stop the allergic reaction.
What do you think? Should peanuts be banned from schools? Weigh in at Facebook.com/JohnTesh.