- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
Peanuts: The Death of Students
Peanuts should not be allowed in schools. While not all children are highly allergic to peanuts, there are those that have reactions to the tiniest particles of peanut butter. Because so many students bring peanut butter for lunch every day, this puts students with allergies are put in a very dangerous situation.
Many schools are isolating students who have allergies instead of addressing the problem. The presence of peanuts in schools needs to stop. While few schools are putting a stop to the presence of peanuts in their schools or creating peanut free zones, many schools are just isolating the students with allergies.
There are those that believe peanuts should be banned for the safety of the students, and others believe that schools need special peanut free zones, or simply isolate students with peanut allergies. Peanut butter should be banned from schools because it puts students in danger, causes allergic reactions, and uncomfortable situations.
Peanut Butter in Schools
Peanut butter should not be allowed in schools. Peanut butter puts a lot of kids at risk for allergic reactions. In America there are over three million people with peanut allergies. Forty-four percent of these people are under the age of 18.
Peanut allergies are increasing every day. In the past five years, peanut allergies in children have doubled. By allowing students to have peanut butter in school, peanut butter can potentially cause serious harm to those with allergies. When peanut butter is brought to the lunch room, the peanut butter will get into the air and onto tables.Peanut butter, unlike peanuts, can be absorbed by the skin more easily, and peanut butter lets off more vapors in the air.
Because not every student washes their hands after lunch, the peanut butter can be transferred into the class rooms and the rest of the school. While many student have to ingest peanuts before they will have reactions, there are students who will have reactions to just the vapors or by touching peanut butter.
One minute a student could be giving their best friend a high-five and the next they could be rushed off to the hospital because their throat is swelling closed. It may not have been intentional, but even a little peanut butter can put certain people in the hospital.
When a student with an allergy to peanuts comes in contact with peanuts, they have an allergic reaction. These allergic reactions range from mild to life-threatening.
Those students with mild peanut allergies often experience, stomachaches, runny noses, an itchy skin rash, hives, or tingling on the lips or tongue. These initial reactions can develop into wheezing, coughing, and swelling in the throat. These reactions can appear minutes to hours after eating or touching peanuts. Mild allergic reactions can usually be easily treated through the use of an antihistamine.
The students, who are most at risk by the presence of peanuts, are those who have anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening allergic reaction that often times results in difficulty breathing and swallowing, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, dangerously low blood pressure, swelling of the lips, tongue, throat, and other parts of the body, and a loss of consciousness. Unlike students with mild reactions, these students have to have immediate treatment, or death can result. These reactions usually occur within minutes after exposure to peanuts.
All of these reactions can be set off by small amounts of peanuts. Most of these reactions occur because students unknowingly ingest or touch peanuts or peanut products.
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Peanut allergies can cause awkward situations between students and their peers. A student may be forced to move to a different table because a friend brought a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch, which is a very common occurrence in school. Students attending the Rochelle middle school, who have peanut allergies, have to sit at a special table away from everyone. Students at other schools may have to sit by themselves. They have to sit away from their friends because they have allergies.My brother, who attends Rochelle Middle School, was forced to site in the hallway during a day when students were allowed to eat lunch in their class rooms.
As a parent once said, “isolate the food, not the child." Bullies in schools have been reported as threatening other students with allergies. A nine year old student from Kentucky was reported of smearing peanut butter on the arm of a student with allergies. The student broke out in small hives, but if he had touched his mouth, his reaction would have been a different story.
These bullies do not seem to understand that for some students, when it comes to peanut butter it really is life or death. Students should not be forced to sit elsewhere or be harassed because of a disability.
School District Bans Peanuts and Nut Products at Elementary
What's the Big Problem ?
Why do people refuse to give up peanut butter? Peanut butter is a cheap and easy lunch item. Peanut butter does not require refrigeration or a cold pack. Why, many people argue, should we pay more for our children’s’ lunch because of a few students who have allergies?
Parents are complaining that banning all peanut products is going too far. School administrators argue that even if peanuts were banned from school there would be no way to monitor everyone to see if someone brings peanuts with them. Other people argue that a peanut free zone will suffice for students who have allergies. Areas in the lunch area and class room where peanuts are not allowed.
There is also a belief that an educated public will help prevent these reactions. Some believe that if students, parents, and school staff are aware of these problems, this awareness of peanuts would cause safer environments for students with allergies
Lunch or Life?
As a parent once said, "my child's life or your kid's lunch."
Even though peanut butter is a cheap lunch item and many children enjoy it, when it comes to a child’s safety, peanut butter should be banned. "Parents get very passionate and angry when their kids can't bring peanut butter to school," said Mike Tringale, director of external affairs at the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. "But you wouldn't throw razor blades all over the gymnasium. For these allergic kids, putting peanut butter in the cafeteria is the same thing."
While isolating students with allergies in the lunch room gets them away from peanut butter, the peanut butter is still in the air and on other students’ hands. Some schools have peanut free areas, special tables, bathrooms, desks, and class rooms where peanut products are not allowed, yet this method keeps students from interacting with their friends, and every day activities. While awareness of peanut allergies is a good thing, school staff can’t always monitor students’ behavior.
A school may make it mandatory that students wash their hands before returning to class, but there isn’t a way to make sure this is happening after lunch. The best preventions are at the schools where they banning peanut butter all together. At these schools students are not allowed to bring food with peanuts in it, and the cafeteria is not allowed to serve anything with peanuts in it. Students who break these rules are disciplined accordingly.
I really believe this is the best answer, as Alex Goldschmidt, a fifth-grader from Trevor Day school, once said, “well, you can't take chances. I mean, if you kept it here, then they might eat like some kind of food with nuts in it, then something bad would happen, then the next thing you know there would be somebody in the cafeteria that's dead.”
Learn More About Peanut Allergies
- Food Allergy Among U.S. Children: Trends in Prevalence and Hospitalizations
Four out of every 100 children have a food allergy.
- Peanut Dangers
Peanut Allergy is the most common cause of food related death
- Allergie Statistics
More than 3 million people in the United States report being allergic to peanuts, tree nuts or both.
- Food Allergies
Peanut allergy is one of the "Big 8" food allergies that account for 90% of those suffered by 21 million Americans.
Do You Have a Child with a Severe Peanut Allergy?
When it’s all said and done, peanuts can be dangerous and should be treated accordingly. A child’s health and well being should not be compromised for the well being of someone’s lunch. Peanuts can put students in the hospital because administrators are not doing enough to prevent these students from coming into contact with peanuts.
Students often feel left out of school activities due to being isolated during the school day. While the total banning of peanuts from a school seems a little over the top, I would rather be safe than have a child in the hospital. Parents should not complain about paying a few extra dollars a month for lunch meat instead of peanut butter.
My brother suffers from an extreme allergy to peanuts. If he touches peanut butter it will send him in to anaphylactic shock within minutes. Having him attend a school that would ban all peanut products would make his life so much easier. But for now he has to sit at a table all by himself at lunch. I believe in the near future that more schools will begin banning peanut products because more students are becoming allergic to peanuts every day.