Food allergy-related bullying and associated peer dynamics among Black and White children in the FORWARD study

Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2021 Mar;126(3):255-263.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.anai.2020.10.013. Epub 2020 Nov 4.


Background: The experiences of Black children with food allergy (FA) are not well characterized, particularly with respect to bullying victimization and other psychosocial outcomes.

Objective: To evaluate bullying experiences of Black and White children with FA, including associations with peer relationships, anxiety, and school policies.

Methods: Surveys were administered to parents of 252 children with physician-diagnosed FA enrolled in the multisite FORWARD cohort. The surveys assessed demographics, atopic disease, bullying victimization, and school FA management practices and policies. Descriptive statistics of bullying by race were compared by χ2 tests. Multiple logistic regression analyses adjusting for race, age, parental education, household income, child sex, and multi-FA compared adjusted probabilities of bullying victimization by school policies.

Results: Nearly 20% of school-aged children were bullied for FA with no substantial racial differences overall, though for children ages 11 years and up, White children reported higher rates of bullying. However, Black children experienced non-FA-related bullying twice as frequently as White children (38.6% vs 17.7%; P = .002). Most of the caregivers (85.7%) who intervened in their child's bullying reported that it was helpful. Among parents, 17.3% reported that they were teased or bullied owing to their child's FA. More than half of the respondents (54.8%) reported that some allergens are banned from their child's school, most typically peanut. In schools banning peanuts, FA-related bullying was less frequently reported by all students who have food allergy.

Conclusion: Bullying owing to FA is common, and caregivers, medical professionals, and school administrators can help reduce bullying by screening for bullying and supporting and educating school policies.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Black or African American / statistics & numerical data*
  • Bullying / psychology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Food Hypersensitivity / psychology*
  • Food Hypersensitivity / therapy
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Schools
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • White People / statistics & numerical data*