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American Idol, Peanut Allergies, Bullying and Jokes

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Have a lemon? Make lemonade!

I don’t condone making fun of any kids, including kids with food allergies. After-all my 9yo son is allergic to tree nuts and peanuts. He’s very aware and self conscious of his food allergies. It disturbs me that kids are becoming so self conscious at such a young age. But things have changed a lot over the years. Kids seem to be exposed to so much more at younger ages. Kids had super stars like Shirley Temple - Menudo - Square Pegs to admire, and today’s children have Lindsay Lohan, Justin Bieber and the next American Idol. Shows like American Idol are changing kids from working at barbecue shacks into overnight super stars. Imagine one day being an “ordinary teen” and overnight you are singing in front of millions on national television. Along with the overnight fame, comes a huge responsibility.

When I heard that one of the American Idol contestants, Caleb, made jokes about pranking his fellow competitor, Alex, by putting peanuts in his underwear, I wasn’t surprised. First instinct as a food allergy parent and mama bear is anger and protection. We work tirelessly to keep our food allergy kids safe and are often considered overprotective or helicopter parents. Food allergy parents, like Eleanor Garrow-Holding, founder of FAACT (Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Connection Team) work endless hours educating the public and raising awareness and are making progress. In addition to outstanding organizations like FAACT, FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education), and KFA (Kids With Food Allergies), teenagers are jumping on board in an effort to educate and help people understand that food allergies are not a joke. Teenagers, Tiffani Pope and her best friend, Mariana, are devoting time and have recently launched their website, Nutties For a Change, in hopes of reaching people and "eliminating ignorance towards allergies." Because of their hard work and dedication, the public is becoming more aware that food allergies are serious and even fatal. Having someone come on national television and jeopardize this progress is upsetting. BUT rather than look at the negative, lets look at the positive. Lets think about the motto, “no publicity is bad publicity.” Over 15 million watch American Idol, and yes to have a contestant poke fun of food allergies is aggravating. BUT at the same time, they brought up food allergies, which gave us an opportunity to educate and help people understand that food allergies are serious. And again, thanks to organizations like FAACT for reaching out to American Idol and requesting that they take responsibility for their actions, Caleb apologized. Caleb took the time the following night during American Idol and sincerely apologized. I commend American Idol and its contestant, Caleb for stepping up.

Learn more about food allergy and bullying:

Vote for American Idol Contestant, Alex Preston, Call toll free at 1 (855) 443-6509. Vote up to 50 times per phone line.

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