To Address Bullying, “ALLERGY Act” Introduced in Congress

On December 5, federal legislation sponsored by Rep Matt Cartwright (D-PA) was introduced in Congress and assigned to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

The Alerting Local Leaders and Ensuring Responsible Guidelines for Youth Act (ALLERGY Act), if enacted, would mandate schools develop programs to address the bullying of children with food allergies. According to a study published in the journal Pediatrics, “31.5% of the children and 24.7% of the parents reported bullying specifically due to FA [food allergy], frequently including threats with foods, primarily by classmates.” The study was based on 251 respondents to a survey of families of children with food allergies.

Quoting the bill, the legislation specifically mandates that schools:

(1) educate students, school personnel, and parents about allergy bullying, and that such bullying is against the rules of the school;
(2) clearly define what the punishment or response may be for a violation of the rule against allergy bullying, which may include a therapeutic response, where appropriate;
(3) have in effect policies and procedures that encourage each victim of allergy bullying to report such bullying to school personnel; and
(4) in carrying out the requirements of paragraphs (1) through (3), is in compliance with the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ( 20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq. ) and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ( 42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq. ).

The bill defines allergy bullying as follows:

The term allergy bullying means unwanted, aggressive behavior by a student toward another student with an allergy and includes—

(1) a real or perceived imbalance of power due to such other student’s allergy, such as physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity, to control or harm such other student; and
(2) actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, physical or verbal attacks, and excluding such other student from a group on purpose.

The legislation was introduced with the support of Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics (AANMA) and Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), two organizations at the forefront of food allergy advocacy and support.

We at SnackSafely.com support the aims of the ALLERGY Act and the efforts of Rep Cartwright. We urge you to contact your representative and ask they to sign on as co-sponsor of the bill and support the legislation as it makes its way through the House.

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