Confession time. I was bullied mercilessly as a kid. Pretty much from 2nd grade to 6th grade. Even my “best friend” joined in when with others. Mike Perry…if you’re reading this…there’s a special place in hell for you.
And why was I bullied? Cause I was an easy target in the eyes of the bullies. I had long hair. I was extremely shy. I had no confidence. I’m not remotely saying it was my fault (or it’s ever anybody’s fault) for getting bullied, but it made me a target for sure. It wasn’t until middle school that I found my footing and found my friends. But I’m sure the emotional scars are still there.
This leads me to today’s email. It comes from a mom whose 8-year-old has celiac disease, gets food thrown at him at school, and the school is not remotely providing the protection the child needs and deserves. She needs advice from someone who has been there. Here’s what’s going on:
I met with the school last year and only asked that they wipe down the tables in the cafeteria and classroom after lunch. I also asked that the teacher have the kids wash their hands. The first week of school a student threw food at him. I went in to the school and spoke to them personally about it. The same student did it again two weeks later. Over the course of the school year there have been 6 episodes of food being thrown and two episodes of taunting him about Celiac in the classroom.
Believe me when I say I have been very present in the school and adamant that they put a stop to it. At the end of the school year, I asked that they move my son with a few friends for third grade for peace of mind and comfort. I knew these friends understood his illness and would never throw food. The school never did this to my dismay. They also haven’t solved the problem with the cafeteria and the constant food throwing. I asked them to hire an aide to supervise their table and they have refused.
Do you have any idea what my rights are or how I can put a stop to this? I’m worried sick about him going back to school in a week. This must be some kind of violation against the Americans with Disabilities Act. Any advice would be so appreciated.
A few thoughts on my end:
- We have a case here of life imitating art. Back in 2013, Disney had a show called Jessie and in one of the episodes, they make fun of a boy who was gluten-free. And yes…they throw food at him. Sound familiar? The celiac community was so incensed, we started a petition and Disney cancelled the episode right before it was about to air. Here are the details.
- Sadly, bullies are a way of life. Even in second grade. It is 100% up to the school to put an end to it.
- A big eff you to the school for not moving the child to a class with a few friends. It’s third grade for crying out loud. Who is being harmed by it?
- I strongly recommend you read this page on the ADA website. It deals with celiac disease, gluten-free and the ADA.
I wish I had a better answer for you. Mostly I just feel sad. I’ve received similar emails from other parents so I’m hopeful someone out there has some sound advice. Anybody out there?