How Should a School Respond When ONE Parent Says, “That’s Too Dangerous!” ?

Hi hrbhiryeek
Readers! Over in jolly ol’ England,  there’s a man I revere named Tim Gill who runs the blog Rethinking Childhood, and wrote the book No Fear: Growing Up in a Risk Averse Society. This most recent post of his is SO GOOD — and asks such an important question — I asked if i could run part of it here. Replied Tim, “Take the whole thing!” See what I mean? A great guy. – L


How should schools, nurseries, kindergartens and other education, childcare and play services respond to anxious parents? I was asked this question recently by an Australian early years educator who heard me speak a couple of months ago.

She explained that her setting’s outdoor space was very small and sparse, but that it was located in some more extensive school grounds. She was keen to take the children into the grounds, so they could play games that they do not have room for in their own yard. She wanted to do this, not only because of the extra space, but also to prepare the children for the transition to the ‘big school’ that many of them would soon be joining. She continues:

Unfortunately, one parent has refused permission for their child to have anything to do with the school, because “she’s not going to that school next year”. I’ve spoken to my managers, and there’s nothing I can do about one parent preventing all the children from going to the school. I am not able to ask the child to stay home on those days. I am not able to leave her with one staff member at the setting. I am not able to leave her at the school office. And when I appealed to the mother she said that it is my problem.

It is amazing that one parent can determine what all the other children will be able to do! I asked my managers if they could make it a compulsory policy from next year’s enrolments that parents give permission before enrolling to access the school grounds. However, they said no, as I am supposed to engage with our community, according to regulations.

They did say they would look into it, as they hadn’t come across a parent like this before. I said they should, because there’s always one parent! If a parent doesn’t give permission then it’s certainly to their child’s detriment, but to affect everybody else’s rights to go on an excursion or to do an activity that is deemed beneficial and educational is not right.

Note the real problem here. It is not parents as a group. It’s that because of the policies and procedures of the setting, the views of a single parent are enough to derail things.

baby-knee-padsParents, like the rest of us, are on a spectrum when it comes to their attitude to risk. At one end of this spectrum, some parents apparently feel the need to protect their children through against all possible harm, even the harm from crawling on a hardwood floor.

All too often, systems and procedures effectively give risk averse parents a veto. Schools, services and settings feel under pressure to set their benchmark at the level of the most anxious parent. Often, the result is that all children lose out on some vital learning experiences.

My take-home message to services – and especially service managers – is simple. If you want to allow all children the chance to spread their wings a little, you cannot set your bar at the level of the most anxious parent. In the nicest possible way, you need to be assertive with the ones at the fearful end of the spectrum. They should not be allowed to think that they have a veto on what you offer to children.

Readers: How about you? How worried are you about the influence of anxious parents? What messages do parents get about your values – for instance, in your publicity materials, or your mission statement – and how well do these values square up with your practice? Have you succeeded in winning the more risk-averse over to the idea of expanding children’s horizons? Or do your procedures get in the way? I would love to hear your views and ideas. – -T.G.

Me too! – L.S.

P.S. You might want to check out the comments on Tim’s blog. Some good ones! 


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76 Responses to How Should a School Respond When ONE Parent Says, “That’s Too Dangerous!” ?

  1. Ms. Herbert July 27, 2012 at 2:22 am #

    I’ve run into this with our class blog. It was simple, if your parent didn’t give permission you didn’t get to post. That meant you couldn’t be in the video. You had to step out of the picture.

    Guess what – within 2 weeks the parent signed the slip. The only kids that didn’t happen with were kids in actual danger from “parents” who lost custody due to abuse. Those kids were handled differently from the beginning.

    Now our district hand book states that posting work on line is a standard part of education. So the default is that they post – unless the parent sends a letter. (We still get a standard warning if a student is endangered from past abuse).

  2. figgymommy July 27, 2012 at 2:24 am #

    I am so grateful that the place I ended up working has a preschool that aligns with my free-range parenting ideals.

    But that is just utterly ridiculous! Growing up, if your parent wouldn’t allow you to go on a field trip (even just to a field) then you got left behind with another class, or the office. I can’t believe the child isn’t allowed to be kept back in the office or something, and given busywork to do. (But poor child either way.)

  3. dmd July 27, 2012 at 2:37 am #

    Had a similar experience when my son was in K, although safety wasn’t the issue. One parent complained about activities they felt were too religious (watching the Polar Express and visiting Building a Bear which also included a ride on the Easter train at the mall). As a result, my son’s class had to watch their own movie on pajama day and missed the field trip. One parent definitely has power over the rest.

  4. spitlermaggie July 27, 2012 at 2:48 am #

    Really makes homeschooling look very appealing….No one gets to call the shots but me, myself and I!

  5. Tim Gill July 27, 2012 at 2:55 am #

    Gee, thanks for this Lenore – dare I say the feeling is mutual – it is great to have kindred spirits like you working to expand children’s horizons. I’m looking forward to reading what people have to say here. They may want to check the comments over on my blog too – I’ve had some smart suggestions.

  6. Chrissy July 27, 2012 at 3:28 am #

    That’s pretty ridiculous. It’s not even a safety issue!
    Anyway, I think it should basically be policy pretty much everywhere that if you don’t want your child to do the activity, then they will stay behind. If it’s a daycare, they can probably go hang out with the next younger group or the next older group, so it doesn’t seem like it should be a problem to me. If it’s a school, there are always people around who can keep an eye on the child- the librarian, office person, someone who watches other kids at recess, etc…. One parent should absolutely NOT have veto power over the rest.

  7. Yan Seiner July 27, 2012 at 3:32 am #

    Give the parent the option of picking the child up or the child does the activity. School is not a baby sitting service; if the parent does not want the child to participate in a school activity then the parent should be responsible for taking care of that child during the activity.

    Sorry; I have little to no patience with contrarians and “That’s your problem” kind of people. If your behavior causes problems for others, then it’s your duty to mitigate those problems and not pawn them off on others.

    My kids went to school in the Czech Republic for half a year; I am amazed at the number and variety of activities they did outside of school. Museums, concerts, ball games, etc. And no one complained.

  8. Roxiedog July 27, 2012 at 4:15 am #

    I am a teacher and have had parents refuse to allow their child to attend field trips because they are “too dangerous”. The field trips in question involved strawberry picking at a farm and attending a children’s play in a Toronto theatre. I have seen a mother follow the school bus in their car “just in case”. “In case what?” I always ask. “You never know what could happen” was the response. I find it increasingly bizarre and sad that activities that were seen as commonplace as recently as 30 years ago are now deemed “too dangerous” for children to take part in even when accompanied by a responsible adult.

  9. Silver Fang July 27, 2012 at 5:16 am #

    I’ll tell you how to handle parents like that: Call them out. Email their name and contact info to other parents in the class and say, “This parent is why your kid can’t go on field trips anymore”. I guarantee that would stop that behavior cold.

  10. Dave July 27, 2012 at 5:22 am #

    What happened to majority rule. Growing up if a parent did not want their child to join in an activity they could adopt out. They raise their child not everyone else is.

  11. Liz July 27, 2012 at 5:29 am #

    I agree with Silver Fang – I’m a bit of a rabble rouser, so I would push back with my administrator after gathering intel from surrounding schools/districts. Presenting the case that in the surrounding 37 schools, any child that does have permission to participate is left with another class or in the library, coupled with the buzzwords “It appears to be *best practice* to…..”

    I would also enlist the assistance of the room parent(s). They can usually be quite a powerhouse in their own right, and may have had older children who already went through the school, so the administration is VERY familiar with them, and may give them a listen.

    I would have an absolute meltdown in the principal’s, then the superintendent’s, office if some wingnut was preventing my child from frolicking in the grass because her kid isn’t going there! Who the h#&^ cares? My kid may not be going to college – so no college-level classes for ANYBODY! Really?!?!

  12. Liz July 27, 2012 at 5:30 am #

    Does *not* have permission . . . sorry

  13. SKL July 27, 2012 at 5:38 am #

    I think it should be handled similar to a dairy allergy. You don’t want YOUR kid doing it? Fine, figure out something else for your kid while the rest of the kids participate.

    Honestly, I can’t imagine trying to tell my kids’ school what to do with the whole class, unless there was a really glaring issue. I mean, I didn’t even complain (out loud) about the screamy little biter that all the kids had to deal with last year. They’ve been doing this for years, right?

  14. KimCmumof2boys July 27, 2012 at 5:49 am #

    My eldest son starts K in the fall at the local elementary school. He attended the school’s summer day camp programs this summer. I think I have gotten very lucky – the camp seemed to have a relaxed, common sense approach to safety & risk. The camp had a beach day & kids were encouraged to bring pool & water items to school. Our kids have water guns at home but I didn’t even think of sending one with my son that day (the school asks not to send toy guns, swords, etc). Funny enough, the camp happily allowed water guns!

    Go common sense go!

  15. John Barnes July 27, 2012 at 5:51 am #

    Consciously or not, this looks like an opening for setting the precedent that “most anxious parent” determines the rules, and no child is allowed to have experiences that most anxious parent’s child doesn’t (that appears to be the point of “and you can’t just leave them behind.”) Potentially this is a wedge issue; the extremist protect-the-kids types have already begun to mutter that it isn’t fair that the free range children are having more fun and developing more abilities and confidence, and that it’s unfairly difficult on them to prohibit an activity if the other kids do it.

  16. Peggy July 27, 2012 at 5:59 am #

    SKL, FYI, nowadays if your child has a food allergy, the whole class is usually not allowed to eat that food at school either.
    As a teacher I will say the schools and teachers are handicapped by anxious and pushy parents all the time. I found it more of a problem with parents who were pushy about wanting their child to have special attention and “advanced” work (re: not developmentally appropriate), but it happened with safety issues as well. The administrators usually went along with whatever parent was pushiest and loudest, not what was in the best interest of all. If, as a teacher, I tried to fight the administrators decision I would probably have been fired or put in a work condition so miserable that I would have wanted to quit. A HUGE reason why I am going to homeschool my kids!

  17. Donna July 27, 2012 at 6:06 am #

    My daughter has two Jehovah’s witnesses in her class. Jehovah witnesses don’t celebrate holidays or birthdays. This has not stopped the class from having parties. The parents either pick their sons up before the party or the boys go to the office during the party.

    A field trip should be treated the same. Don’t want your child to go? Great; pick your kid up before the field trip or don’t send him to school that day. If this is a short event, an hour or so, the kid staying in the office is fine, but anything more and the parents need to take the kid home. The school is not a babysitting service.

    The Jehovah’s witness boys skipped at least two field trips. One to the teacher’s house for an easter egg hunt and one to the local arcade for a classmate’s birthday (her parents own the arcade).

  18. Lollipoplover July 27, 2012 at 6:10 am #

    “I’ll tell you how to handle parents like that: Call them out.”

    I agree. This type of thing is handled better before it escalates into a “new policy”. I have no problem calling out a parent with an irrational fear. Why should they ruin the fun for everyone else?

    We had one of those “race” for education fundraisers. I showed up to volunteer (handing out water) and my daughter came over upset because she was told she could only walk, not run, for the race. Seems someone complained that running could cause falls. My daughter wanted to run so I told her teacher I would run with her to keep her “safe”. Soon I had a gang of fellow running kids who I ran on the inside loop to avoid the walkers. Shockingly, no one fell and all had fun. Besides, what kind of race involves walking?!

  19. Donna July 27, 2012 at 6:12 am #

    “nowadays if your child has a food allergy, the whole class is usually not allowed to eat that food at school either.”

    Not in any of the schools my child has attended. Her pre-k had a “no nut” rule but no other restrictions. All three schools she has attended since beginning kindergarten (one in Georgia, one in American Samoa and one for summer school) have absolutely no food restrictions at all. Her Georgia school even had PB&J sandwiches on the school lunch menu.

  20. Bronte July 27, 2012 at 6:39 am #

    Presumably the kid in question will be going to a school next year if not the school over the fence. It would still be beneficial for said child to get used to a big school even if it’s not the one he/she will be attending.

  21. Ms. Modern July 27, 2012 at 7:10 am #

    In my experience, private daycares and public schools run things totally differently. A school will operate under “best practices,” while at a daycare the parents are customers and I have seen some private daycares do just about anything to placate and please their customers. I’m not surprised by this at all; unfortunately it seems par for the course. It seems like this preschool/daycare admin should allow the caregiver to leave the child in the office or with someone else within the operating guidelines. (There are usually strict age restrictions, like a preschooler can’t be left with toddlers or infants.) I like the idea of this being in the enrollment papers since it would be in the children’s best interest to have access to better playground equipment. A parent unhappy with that could find another place to send their child or find an acceptable compromise with admin.

  22. Mike in Virginia July 27, 2012 at 7:15 am #

    My child’s pre-school once held a field trip and the permission slip said if we didn’t wish for our child to participate, we had to keep him at home because the class was going on the trip.

    Its every parents choice whether or be free-range or helicopter, but it is not okay to interfere with other parents.

  23. mollie July 27, 2012 at 7:19 am #

    I guess I see a larger view of this issue: how the vocal minority can really change policies when the passive majority stands idly by.

    That’s why I love you so, Lenore! I felt so helpless when all around me the “parenting norm” was seeming to be 24/7 surveillance of kids, and I wondered: am I really in the minority, or are many of us just “going along,” like sheep, because we assume there’s a “good reason” for the draconian policies?

    Now I’m getting the sense that all along, a majority of parents here in my town, at least, were seething about the expectations that they accompany children to birthday parties, arrange playdates, and be constantly watching their kids at all times. And well they should seethe! Were it not for this blog, and Lenore’s other efforts, I might not have been as bolstered as I have been to live the way I want to live, and become part of a vocal, common-sense majority!

    I know it seems sometimes that the fretters and worriers are winning. But let’s keep it up, the dialogue, the passion, the observations, the community.

  24. CrazyCatLady July 27, 2012 at 8:33 am #

    I am facing a problem like this with my oldest, who will be in 7th grade. We homeschool with an ALE in WA. (Think homeschooling charter school. Public money, some oversite of us and curriculum, the district pays for secular curricula.)

    Anyhow, we have classes a couple times a week. As there wasn’t room in any of the existing schools, the program is housed in a church that is adjacent to school property that has an elementary school and an alternative high school. Our program has really expanded, and next year will be doing a day long STEM program for 6-8th graders. The principal tried to get a dedicated room for this at the elementary school, but that fell through. Instead, they will be using a room in one of the portables at the alternative school.

    Now, homeschoolers, most of them, are very interested in their educations from what I have seen. And, as I have observed the Alternative School high schoolers, I can see that they also are interested in their educations, and like us homeschoolers, taking a different path. I have seen no drug or alcohol use on campus (parking is adjacent) and very little smoking. The high schoolers have never really interacted with the home schoolers, not sure if they have been told not to.

    But, because this room used to be part of the alternative school, we got an email from the principal saying that the safety of our kids is his highest concern, and ALL kids will be escorted to and from the room. Huh? We have other portables that face the alternative school and share a basketball court. Why now do we suddenly need our kids escorted?

    I wrote back and told him that my kids have my permission to go to and from the room unescorted. I trust that she can make it to the bathroom in the church and back just fine and no one will bother her. There is no need for staff, who should be working with other kids, to take time to go with her when she needs a potty break. Likewise, if she needs to go (and girls do sometimes have issues when they need to go “now”,) she shouldn’t have to wait. I am willing to bet I will need to argue this one in the fall.

    Sheese. In a couple of weeks my 7, 10 and 12 year old will be showing animals at the county fair. Where, as I was told, ex cons clean the bathrooms, gang members are not supposed to wear colors, and “who knows who else will be there!” Personally, I found it pretty safe last year. There is lots of security, both hired and local enforcement and we leave before 9:30 most nights because we have to be back early. I try to get them to go with family or friends when they need to use the bathroom, but honestly, they will spend a lot of time out of my sight, with who knows how many ex criminals who don’t want to get in trouble again. And, no doubt, some of the alternative high school kids will be there too. Not sure if they will come through the animal barns, but they probably will use the bathrooms.

  25. renee July 27, 2012 at 8:59 am #

    FYI, did you see the WSJ article about helicopter parents and colleges? July 25th issue, personal journal section pg1

  26. missjanenc July 27, 2012 at 10:07 am #

    In regard to food allergies, I read where a whole school was not allowed to bring peanut butter sandwiches to school because ONE child had a nut allergy. Well then, why can’t this kid eat in the office and let the rest of the school eat their PB&Js? It ain’t rocket science and one person should not be able to hold everyone else hostage.

  27. This girl loves to talk July 27, 2012 at 10:13 am #

    my daughters prep class (5 years old) were doing some experiements or other science related things and the teacher laughed and said most things they used to do years past are now banned as too dangerous (even throwing toys/things up in the air – gravity example, or they used to put kids on large tarps etc) anyway the science experiement for prep last month was ……

    Setting Jelly (Jello to you americans)!!!!! gee how exciting!

    and funnily enough in the end this created problems as the kids were to ask their parents if they could eat jelly. I said yes fine my daughter can. At the end of day I mentioned ‘how was the jelly’ and my daughter broke down crying and saying we have to go back to school to get her jelly as in the end they were not allowed to eat it as there were several vegetarians and vegan’s in the class and Muslim’s who cannot eat geletine!! it was a friday and I said the school is closed now you cant have your jelly and she cried for ages! lol. Poor teacher said on the monday how terrible it turned out and upset kids and she is now looking for another science experiement!!! LOL!

  28. hineata July 27, 2012 at 10:31 am #

    To me it sounds as if the original parent is not so much anxious as a total b#*%! Fancy telling a teacher it was her problem when she (the parent) was in the process of ruining an educational experience for a whole group of students (plus, more importantly, a whole load of fun!).

    Some people are simply as arrogant as they can get away with – and this must make certain types feel very powerful. In this case though, the management really need to grow a pair. Possibly it is as an earlier poster said, a case of a private daycare catering to the whims of any parent who makes a noise.

  29. hineata July 27, 2012 at 10:42 am #

    There was recently a case in Wellington where a boy had bad allergies to a variety of foods, which is unfortunate. His parents moved him to a kindergarten where the teachers were more than happy to cater to his allergies (actually, all kindergartens and schools are required to do that around here).

    Not so bad so far. However, because he could get ill touching a place where said foods had been, the kindergarten then proceeded to ban all foods (pb, eggs, etc, etc, etc – there was a fair list) from the kindy that might cause him problems for every session the kindy was open, even the ones where the children concerned would never cross paths with this child.

    This one child affected 60-odd families,many of whom would never lay eyes on him, but to me that wasn’t even the worst of it. The killer for me was when the mother came on TV (must have been a slow news day) and told the nation that if other people at the kindy didn’t like it, they could just move their children. After maybe a week of her child being there……

    Sooooo entitled!

  30. SKL July 27, 2012 at 11:16 am #

    Here they will ban nuts for wee kids if a classmate is allergic – but from what I’ve read, that’s a really dangerous allergy and you don’t even have to eat a nut to have a reaction. For the many kids who have issues with other foods such as milk, it’s on the parents to supply the kid with OK food to eat, and the teachers and parents work together to make sure the kid doesn’t share anyone else’s food.

    My kids’ future school (grades K-8) has a “nut-free table” and they have PBJs on the lunch menu. It’s on the parents to make sure allergic kids know how to protect themselves.

    I haven’t heard of any deaths yet.

  31. CrazyCatLady July 27, 2012 at 11:54 am #

    A fair number of kids at our ALE (alternative learning environment) have food allergies. Halls and one area kids eat are free, as are the classrooms. But the main lunchroom where all the little messy kids eat, nuts are allowed. Big kids can eat in the hall or other area and usually don’t do PBJ. This compromise was come up with the parent’s help.

    With the ALE, the kids don’t HAVE to attend classes, they can do all of their school work at home, which is why the allergy thing is not as big a deal. I guess that is part of how they get around having public school in a church that still has it’s usual signs, banners and Sunday school work up on the walls of the classrooms.

  32. Heather July 27, 2012 at 11:57 am #

    All I know is that I don’t ever want to witness a kid getting the Epi-pen.

  33. gap.runner July 27, 2012 at 2:19 pm #

    A few things…

    At the School Age Center (grades K-5) at the base where I work, peanuts aren’t allowed. My son used to bring a peanut butter sandwich with him when he went there because he got out of school too late for the SAC’s lunch. One day I was told that the SAC was a peanut free zone. I asked if a child with a severe peanut allergy was the reason for the ban. The director said no, but it became a US Army Europe policy in case a kid with a peanut allergy ever came to the center. The on-base Teen Center (grades 6-12) has no food restrictions and trusts that teenagers will know how to manage any food allergies they have.

    The on-base school (grades K-8) has a program called Wonderful Wednesday during the winter. The kids get out of school at noon on Wednesdays, eat a quick lunch, then take a 10-week ski course. Every year there are a few kids who don’t do Wonderful Wednesday. They have to stay behind at the school with a designated teacher and either do their homework or PE. Some of the parents of the kids who opted not to do Wonderful Wednesday have complained that it’s unfair for their kids to do school work while the others are out having fun on the ski slopes. But they are the same people who made the choice for their kids not to participate in the program.

    My son’s school does several overnight activities. The fifth graders go with their respective classes for a week (Monday to Friday) to a big farmhouse out in the middle of nowhere between Garmisch and Munich. Parents aren’t allowed. The kids are supervised by their homeroom teacher plus one other teacher. All of the kids in my son’s class went to the farmhouse. On the consent form it said that any kid who didn’t wish to participate had to go to school but be in a different 5th grade class for that week. This coming school year my son will be in 8th grade. He is looking forward to going to ski camp in Austria for a week, which is part of the 8th grade curriculum (I live in a major ski resort, but the school still takes the kids to Austria. Go figure.). Any child whose parents don’t consent to him going to ski camp will have to stay behind and attend school with a different 8th grade class.

    Earlier this week my son’s class did a local overnight trip (school in Bavaria ends this Tuesday). Because a second teacher wasn’t available to supervise the activity, the kids weren’t covered under the school’s liability insurance during the overnight portion. If my son got injured, my health insurance would have had to pay for the medical care. I had to sign a release saying that the school didn’t have responsibility. No problem. One parent didn’t want her child to stay overnight because of the school insurance situation. Did she make a big fuss and demand that the trip be cancelled? No, she simply picked her son up after dinner and brought him back early the next day.

  34. MR July 27, 2012 at 4:54 pm #

    I have to say I hate how these types of things always bring up the discussions of food allergies and how some seem to think it is entitlement if a school bans nuts and peanuts for allergic kids. I used to ignorantly agree. Then my little girl nearly died from a peanut allergy, and now I am thankful. Peanut and nut allergies are scary, and many are air-born. There are many many children who could have an anaphylactic reaction to peanuts or nuts without eating it, just by being near someone who has eaten it. And no matter how careful you are, there is no way to be sure that every child who ate in that separate area washed their hands well, rinsed their mouths…especially in the younger grades where most children get food on their faces and hands while eating, and often use their arms or sleeves as napkins. Will it change your life irreparably if your child can’t have peanut butter at school? Do you think it would change mine if your child ate that PB sandwich at school then interacted with my child and she died? Come to think of it that would change my life a lot and I bet you’d feel pretty bad the rest of your life that your sandwich killed a kid.

    Such a different discussion and nothing to do with entitlement. Keeping a whole class back from playing in a field beside the school because you have an irrational fear that “something bad could possibly happen” is so completely different than asking people to not eat a food for one meal that could kill my child with one speck. Not an irrational fear, but a very real one that we face every day and one that we have seen nearly take our child’s life once already in her young life. Think about it, a sandwich worth more than a child’s life? IT’S JUST A FREAKING SANDWICH, stop babying YOUR child and letting them be so fussy that they will only eat one food. When we eat out in public I am there to help her if she has a problem and to watch for an allergy and once they are past a certain age it is different because they know the signs of an allergy, they know how to use the epipen themselves, everyone is neater while eating and everyone becomes better at not sharing spit.

  35. SadButMadLad July 27, 2012 at 5:42 pm #

    Tyranny of the minority.

  36. tdr July 27, 2012 at 7:48 pm #

    I’m trying to figure out why the school needed permission from the parents to access school grounds. Isn’t the assumption, when you put your kids in a school, that they will use the school?

    As my wise father always said “If you don’t want to hear the answer, don’t ask the question.”

    Of course, sometimes that does not apply — obviously (?) a field trip requires a permission slip. I can’t fathom why a permission slip was even necessary in the first place here. They opened up a can of worms by letting the parents have any say to begin with.

  37. tdr July 27, 2012 at 7:53 pm #

    OK since the subject of allergies has been raised — I’ve often wondered something … do schools alter their policy based on the student population from year to year? If a severely allergic child graduates and there are no others in the school, does the school reassess the no-nuts policy? It always seemed to me that once the policy is in place, they just leave it in place. Nuts are SO healthy and filling and tasty that I would hope that schools would not leave the no-nuts ban in place in years where it is truly not needed.

    Sorry this is very off-topic.

  38. Andy July 27, 2012 at 9:24 pm #

    @MR Such strong allergy is rare. So, while no one can eat peanuts while your daughter is nearby makes sense, the “every single school bans peanuts” policy is stupid. The strength of your daughters allergy is not common. People are angry because such policies are in place even if such child is not in town.

    Not eating peanut butter will not make my life worst. I find it incredibly distasteful. How can somebody eat that?

    However, having to follow and remember 1000 illogical rules every single hour makes my life worst. It does matter a lot whether I can act on common sense and reason. It does matter a lot whether I have to act on irrational policies set by someone with controlling issues.

    It would be different if I would know that if I read “no peanuts allowed”, than whoever set the policy knew that there is someone affected around. I do not know that actually, I can make very safe bet that no one like that is around.

  39. Kim July 27, 2012 at 9:39 pm #

    My son’s class had an child with a peanut allergy last year and the only issue was class snacks. You could still bring peanuts/peanut butter but if you were providing class snacks that week – nothing with peanuts. If it was my kid with the allergy – no way in hell would I let him eat anything anybody else brought. Can’t tell you how many times I was in charge of class snacks and realized I had almost chopped fruit on the cutting board I made the pb and j’s on.

    At my sons school they have a tree across a ditch to climb across (and both my kids have fallen off it) a big playground structure that the kids climb all the way to the top and balance on, woods to climb through etc. Some parents limit their kids as to what they can do but most of the kids take part in everything.

    Recently my oldest son’s class was denied an overnight camping trip by the director (it was a reward for the class) because it was considered to dangerous and someone might get bit by a snake. Of course there would be parent chaperones and it would have been fine, but the director (now gone, thank goodness) had the final word. Ticked me and a lot of other parents off and we made our voices heard.

    I think that the more involved you become with your kids school, the more comfortable you become with letting your child do things out of your comfort zone. If you don’t know the parents, the teachers, the bus drivers, the administration, it’s kind of scary to turn your kids over to someone else and assume they will watch them. I think these parents saying no my kid isn’t going to participate are probably a little scared. That’s how it was for me anyhow. The first time another mom drove my son on a field trip I was kind of a wreck. I knew he was going to be fine but it was the first time I had let someone I didn’t know too well take my kid 2 hours up the road. I laugh about it now. .

  40. Soapbox0916 July 27, 2012 at 10:02 pm #

    Speaking as someone who has multiple allergies, including having multiple food allergies/sensitivities as a kid, I have never had anyone else alter their eating habits based on what I could not eat. Very few kids and even very few teachers knew that I had multiple food allergies/sensitivities. I just handled it myself by not eating certain stuff. It really only came up rarely, on field trips or planned dinners where I could not bring in a sack lunch. I had parties where I quietly ate my PB&J sandwich while others ate what I could not, it was no big deal. Plus, it seemed like someone else always had it worse off than me.

    While I am certain that food allergies/sensitivities have become a lot more common, I have my personal theories on why that it the case, a big reason why the average person thinks that people did not have allergies back in their childhood is because those of us that did have allergies did not make a big deal out of it. I would have been horrified at the thought of anyone else being denied a food item because I could not have it.
    Now the peanut thing that can cause an allergic reaction just by being airborne, that does scare me, and I have real sympathy for those that it includes. I understand why there need special considerations. However, I think the long term answer is going to have be something like food allergy shots for people who have that kind of allergy, and the preliminary studies have been very promising for shots for severe peanut allergies. Unfortunately, the shots are not quite available for the mass public. The interesting thing about the shots is that they introduce a trace amount of the allergic component in a controlled manner so that the person can build up immunity.

    I understand that in the short-term without a peanut allergy shot available, the parent needs to keep their kid alive. However, the long term solution is going to have to be that they can handle trace amounts by building immunity. There cannot be the expection that the whole world be a bubble.

    As for the PB&J sandwiches, I am fine with the PB free tables, washing hands, and not introducing PB into the classroom. However, as a kid with multiple allergies, PB&J was one of the few foods that I could eat. So we are pitting the kids with different food allergies against each other. So is the kid that can only eat a few food items due to allergies is supposed to be denied the PB&J sandwich thereby decreasing even further what that can eat due to another kid having a allergy to PB&J.

    Maybe it seems entitled if a kid that can eat anything complains about not being able to eat a PB&J sandwich, but is it entitlement if a kid that can eat only a few food items including PB&J sandwiches is denied when less extreme measures could have been taken. Even in some of the most severe cases, a few common sense things can be done instead that don’t have as a big of impact as a total ban on the entire school. Kids with allergies will always be at risk and this is coming from the perspective of someone who has been to the hospital a few times myself due to allergies. I take every precaution that I can, but at some point I have to accept that I always will have some risk.

    I understand the extreme allergies take priority, but we overreact, and then it really seems come down to whose kids is considered the most important.

  41. Havva July 27, 2012 at 10:39 pm #

    This case sounds like the administrators on some level wanted to scuttle the excursion. The excuses for why the one kid can’t be left at the school, while the others enjoy their visit to the larger yard, seem paper thin. If anything it speak of the long standing problem of administrators who think their jobs are to make lots of policies and be ‘in charge’ of the teachers, rather than to facilitate the smooth operation of the school and support the teachers in providing for the good of all students. It seems to stem from the same issues that, back in the 90’s, prevented teachers and bus drivers from enforcing consequences of any sort on bullies (and I’m talking kids who committed frequent physical assaults, not just ones using mean words), unless enough evidence could be produced (by the victims) to secure a conviction in a capital case. These administrators either are unwilling, or incompetent, to assist the teacher in finding a way to work within the rules. The attitude leads to a willingness to turn a blind eye to the majority of kids being harmed, lest they have to think out side the box, get their hands dirty actually solving a problem, or heaven forbid tell a parent the way things will be done. While willing to make new stricter rules “for the good of the children,” these people are unwilling to nominate rules for alteration or elimination, when the rule proves to cause more harm than good. Basically small people hiding behind policy and so invested in minutia, that they have lost sight of the overall goal.

    The best supervisors I have ever had, are the type who respond to major hindrances to my work by saying: “That is MY problem, I will take care of it. Keep working the project.” And then calmly take care of it, no matter the red tape or the powerful people they have ruffle to get the job done. And the people ruffled in the process, when they settle down, appreciate our dedication to the primary mission, and end up lots more cooperative. As far as I can tell, that sort of manager is a rare gem in academic administration.

  42. acm July 27, 2012 at 10:50 pm #

    Just for the record, to folks who recommend “just leave the kid with another class,” many times that’s not an option because each class is already at maximum size, and the school could get into trouble with governing bodies for letting the student/teacher ratio exceed the state standards. And not every preschool has “an office” the way that bigger schools do. So this teacher may have no option other than “you have to keep him home” (which is likely to lose a customer) and “no visits to the big play yard.”

    Bummer! Makes the social pressure option look best.

  43. baby-paramedic July 27, 2012 at 10:53 pm #

    I am someone with some significant allergies, as are other people in my profession. I occasionally work with one woman who has anaphylaxis to latex. I myself react (but not quite so severely) to some of the stuff on the ambulance I can come in contact with.
    As a child I learnt not to touch things. If at the age of six I can refuse to eat the museli bar provided because it contained traces of my allergen (despite my teacher insisting it was okay – this was a couple of decades ago, so before all the education about allergies really came out), then surely others can too. Of course, it is different if the allergen airborne can cause issues, but let us face it, that is incredibly rare.
    I have asked people to change the eating behaviour though – any intimate kissing means you cannot have a certain food soon before! But I reckon that is an informed choice issue there, not a blanket ban.

  44. Amanda Matthews July 27, 2012 at 11:25 pm #

    It’s pretty difficult to find vegetarian/vegan sources of protein that can stay edible in a lunch box until lunch time. It’s also difficult to find a good for you, filling snack that does not contain nuts. And while being vegetarian/vegan is usually a choice, so is sending your child to school/sending your child to the particular school you send them to.

    I think the allergic people should alter THEIR lives… everyone else should not have to alter theirs for the allergic people. Set up some peanut & nut-free private schools, tell people the option to homeschool is there, and EDUCATE ALLERGIC KIDS ABOUT HOW TO TAKE CARE OF THEMSELVES. But don’t make regular schools peanut/nut-free for one (or sometimes, zero!) allergic student.

    My niece is severely allergic to nuts and peanuts. So she always has an epipen on her and has been taught to check things before she eats, and to not touch other people while they are eating until they have washed their hands. With her school allowing peanuts, can anyone be sure all the kids will wash their hands and keep peanuts away from her? No. Just like they can’t be sure all the kids at the public playground, or the person that pressed an elevator button before her will always wash their hands and keep peanuts away from her. So the options are 1. keep her in her own house at all times, ensuring all visitors go through a peanut/nut decontamination process before entering or 2. Educate her and the people close to her or watching over her, and let her lead a normal life (which means everyone else not catering to you) while taking precautions.

    One of my kids is severely allergic to cream. As in, if another kid eats ice cream and then touches his hands he will have a severe reaction. Though we homeschool for other reasons, we still let him go to parties where cake and icecream will be served. If the host does not offer a cream-free alternative (we don’t ask for one), he takes one with him. We taught him to remind other kids that have eaten icecream to wash their hands before touching him. And he’s 2! If a 2 year old can handle this, I’m sure a school-aged child can.

    @MR “Do you think it would change mine if your child ate that PB sandwich at school then interacted with my child and she died? Come to think of it that would change my life a lot and I bet you’d feel pretty bad the rest of your life that your sandwich killed a kid.”

    Yes I’m sure it would. Come to think of it, I’d feel pretty bad for the rest of my life if I was driving and got into an accident and killed someone’s kid. Guess I just shouldn’t drive for the rest of my life, it will be a bit inconvenient but won’t change my life irreparably.

    OR I could just NOT live my life in fear of what COULD happen to someone else’s kid. It’s bad enough that we’re expected to live in fear of what COULD happen to our own kids – now we’re suppose to live in fear of what could happen to yours too? That’s way more of a sense of entitlement than expecting my kids to be able to eat a sandwich.

  45. Jen Sekunda Thompson July 27, 2012 at 11:34 pm #

    I really like the idea of what pp.’s have said – either the child does the activity or the parent has the option of picking them up. This should be true of everything – I wholeheartedly agree especially about religious ideals of one or two parents in a class preventing the entire class from celebrating a holiday/birthday. One thing I am fine with is “peanut free” – though it’s a bit of a PITA for my non-peanut-free kitchen at times, I respect the child’s safety who cannot be exposed to this allergen. But where do we draw the line? I have friends who have gone gluten free simply because they have heard it’s better/healthier/whatever – same goes for the ‘sugar free’ kids. If that’s the case then I’m sorry – your kid is just going to have to feel left out when they don’t get to eat the cupcakes or whatever it is you don’t feel is appropriate for your child. Allergies, yes… otherwise, NO.

  46. Sharon Davids July 27, 2012 at 11:40 pm #

    What about the guidance counselor? In my daughters school the kids and/or parents who don’t want to particpate in Halloween activities have an alternative activity with the guidance counselor. No food was served for them and I saw my daughter hug the girl who missed the main celebration when she came back to get her backpack to end school.

  47. Nicole July 28, 2012 at 12:29 am #

    In the original example, I don’t think the school should have to cancel over one parent not giving permission. That child should just be left with another class.

  48. Fuchsia July 28, 2012 at 12:32 am #

    Soapbox0916 – this is a really common sense approach. And it the same one that has been taken by both parents of severe allergy kids that I know. They know that their kids cannot exist in a bubble and that they MUST learn to protect themselves. They cannot rely on anyone else to keep themselves alive because they cannot control the world. They cannot control the fact that the person before them on a bus ate wheat and got crumbs on the seat, which could increase their mortality by a couple of years if ingested besides making them incredibly sick. They MUST wash completely before eating. And eat off a surface that they ensured was not contaminated. They have to know and are being taught how to protect themselves.

  49. Nicole July 28, 2012 at 12:33 am #

    On the allergies, I don’t have a problem with ONE peanut-free classroom per grade for kids with airborne allergies, but when it gets extended to the whole school, and then to all children being restriced from anything a few children can’t have it because of decisions their parents’ made (religion, vegetarianism, etc.), then I think it’s going too far.

  50. EricS July 28, 2012 at 1:05 am #

    For me, in most situations, as Spock said…”the needs of the many, out weigh the needs of the few.” Food allergies and other medical conditions are one thing. Even if they are the minority, it’s a medical issue and should be taken seriously. But for the most part, as in the article’s situation, there is no issue of safety or medical concerns. It’s just the fear of ONE parent. Other children should not suffer for that one unsubstantiated, ignorant fear. The management should have put their foot down, if the mother refuses to participate in the school’s curriculum, and her child cannot be left alone with one staff or in the office, then that child should be sent home while the rest of the class gets to do what what everyone else wants to do. If she decides to pull her child from the school, so be it. Rather one loss account, than several from parents who find out their children aren’t getting the full attention and activities they need, and that they are paying for. It’s really that simple. But that would be the decision of management. Think smart. Don’t think fear. What is the worse that ONE mother will do? Get mad and take her child elsewhere? lol Bye-bye. Better for the school to be rid of the dead weight dragging everyone else down. And it will also show the mother that she can’t be that spoiled fearful brat she is teaching her child to be. And it will prevent her infectious paranoia from spreading to other parents and their children.

  51. Donna July 28, 2012 at 2:08 am #

    The problem with a peanut ban is not that my kid can’t have a PB&J sandwich. It is the fact that it usually has no purpose whatsoever. It is not in response to an actual situation but an unnecessary ban on a fairly common food.

    Severe airborne peanut reactions are extremely rare. If you have such a child, the responsibility should be on you to notify the school and provide whatever documentation it needs. The school can then activate a plan that is already in place.

    People actually react much better and carefully if they know there is an actual child at risk and aren’t just following another stupid rule. Think about it. How many times have people here said “just do it anyway” when presented with a stupid rule? How many young kids, who may not completely understand peanut allergy, pack their own lunch without supervision (mine for one)? Teachers don’t inspect every lunch box that comes in. Severely allergic children are much safer with everyone informed and reacting to an actual situation with a name and a face. I would certainly put more effort into explaining to my daughter why she can’t take peanut butter to school if there was a reason to do so.

    The sense of entitlement comes from the belief that EVERY peanut (and often other) allergy should be treated with a ban because we don’t want Snowflake to feel left out and you just never know what will happen. Unless sitting next to a person who is eating a PB&J would cause a serious allergic reaction, the allergy is yours to live with. You will likely have it for life and peanuts are not going to be eradicated from the world. Learn to deal. We all have humps to get over and we all have things about our lives that make us feel different and left out at times.

  52. Karen July 28, 2012 at 2:23 am #

    My daughter’s sixth grade class almost did not get to go to Science Camp last spring. The tuition the school pays per kid for the camp was based on a minimum number of kids participating. This past year so many kids opted out of participating because their parents were freaked out by the idea of their 11year olds going away from them for four whole days to a camp where they had not personally met and interviewed each of the staff and where they might go sledding if there was still snow (so dangerous), etc. etc. that the school did not meet that minimum number and were in danger of having to pay a much higher tuition rate per kid, which the school budget could not cover. Luckily, the camp was willing to negotiate a lower rate. The sixth grade teachers say they’ve never had that many “anxious” parents before. In other years there would be maybe one or two in each class. This year it was like half of each class.

  53. hineata July 28, 2012 at 7:17 am #

    @MR _ not sure if you read my post accurately. The child I referred to is not just allergic to peanuts, but to a list of foods. In nz there are no cafeterias for kindy or state primary schools so this mother is relying somehow on umpteen other parents to remember what her kid is allergic to. It’s not just about pbj. Anyway it was the mum’s attitude that got to me. I have a kid whose immune system sucks. Therefore unimmunised kids are a danger to her, as there is a list of diseases as long as your arm that she is susceptible to as weell as silly things like colds. Should I be allowed to demand that only immunized kids are in her class/ school?Or that anyone in her vicinity stays home when they have the flu? Of course not! Whatever my personal views on immunization etc, it is up to we parents to educate her about situations she can/can’t be in, and to her to monitor herself, take medication etc. As other posters have said, the world doesn’t bend for us.

  54. platesintheair July 28, 2012 at 8:24 am #

    My kids have severe food allergies: eggs, peanuts, tree nuts. We pack our own food, and they know not to eat anyone else’s food. If they were going somewhere as a class that would be too dangerous, food-wise, I’d just keep them home. Everyone shouldn’t lose out. And I don’t ask people to make egg-free cupcakes for parties: we bring our own. However, even though my son’s egg allergy is far worse than his peanut, what you have to realize is that peanut–and tree nut, too–allergies are typically more life-threatening, leading to anaphylaxis. Yes, the world has peanuts, and they’ll have to learn to live in it. But we monitor it closely: we don’t go to places that have peanuts, we avoid social situations that are really dangerous food-wise, and we ask everyone who comes to our house to wash their hands. If a child is at lunch, and kids are eating peanut butter, even if the allergy isn’t airborne, the oils from the nuts go everywhere, like doorknobs, class supplies, etc. This can be really serious, and it can be averted by having kids wash hands (and I’ve worked in schools: that doesn’t take long, and it’s good practice anyway). In short, lumping food allergic kids’ parents with parents anxious to play outside in a field isn’t fair. We should be able to compromise. If the school is peanut-free, teach your kids how to avoid packing peanut butter. (This is not hard: our 2 year-old neighbor understands this much.) And if you’re a parent with a food allergic kid, know that sometimes your kid will miss out. That’s life, and it’s okay. (Also, for the person who could only eat pbj, know that there are now so many alternative options, it’s difficult to think that you’d be allergic to ALL the nut butters, seed butters, pea butters, and other alternatives. You’d only need one safe one, one that isn’t a peanut butter that puts another child at risk of dying, just by being in the same room.) Compromise! Most schools are more than happy to work with you, and I know from watching my kids’ friends that when children understand that my kids could die (we just say, get really, really sick and go to the hospital) if they eat certain foods around them, the other children are more than happy to work with that. In fact, they’re often excited about it. It gives them an opportunity to think about others and learn to serve others, which is a great thing. And, like I said, in cases where my kids’ allergies could ruin the whole party/event, we simply don’t go.

  55. Lin July 28, 2012 at 10:58 am #

    I do feel for teachers having to deal with parents like that. The school staff are supposed to show community spirit, but it isn’t expected of the parents apparently. I’m not sure if this is necessarily a FRK issue though. It sounds like the parent is deliberately trying to make trouble.

    But I also think the school is at fault here for not having a back-up plan. If you require permission for an outing, then you should have a strategy for dealing with those kids whose parents don’t want to sign the permission slip.

  56. JaneW July 29, 2012 at 7:48 am #

    @hineata: Of course you have the right to demand that the other children at your school be immunized! It’s the law, it’s common sense. And it’s not just your child at risk, it’s all of her classmates’ infant siblings. Going out in public unvaccinated is incredibly irresponsible. Here in the US, 25 infants died of whooping cough last year, and every one of those deaths was 100% preventable. The numbers on vaccine-preventable diseases in other first world countries are even worse.

    It’s not like you’re asking that every one of the other parents take extraordinary precautions. You’re not asking that the school cancel field trips, or forbid to every child a dozen foods that your child happens to be allergic to. You’re asking them to do one simple thing to protect everyone around them, including their own most vulnerable family members.

    If you want to drive without a seatbelt, IMHO, that’s your choice. If you want to drive drunk, or drive a car without breaks, that’s morally reprehensible.

    I hate hate HATE babykilling antivaccinationist lunatics. I hate them like fire in my blood.

  57. CrazyCatLady July 29, 2012 at 8:59 am #

    JaneW, actually here in WA, where we are having an outbreak of whooping cough at levels not seen since the 1950’s, the state has said that 1 in 6 cases of whooping cough involve people who have had the immunization. At least 1 in 6, because some doctors may feel the immunization is perfect and not test for whooping cough.

    The best thing is for parents to keep their kids home when they are sick. Yes, I know that means a hardship for some working parents, and schools who expect all kids to have 100% attendance so they can get money for each day. (Not all states work like that, but some do.)

    Yes, all of my kids are up to date on their shots.

  58. Jackie July 29, 2012 at 9:08 am #

    I work for a ski club on winter weekends. We have a little girl who has a severe tree allergy. Her mother was concerned the first few weekends she attendend, and spoke to me regarding her concerns and what we could do to make sure she would be taken care of so Mom didn’t have to come to the ski area each weekend. Here’s what we do-and this was a discussion with Mom, the girl, and our head instructor. Girl carries a laminated card with the information regarding her allergy, and an epi-pen on her (she didn’t before). I also have one in the ski lodge with me. When she meets her new instructor for the day, she shows them the card. As the season progresses, she will most likely get the same instructors over and over since we have a set number of them. This young lady is 6 years old, and Mom has given her the responsibility for her allergy and the prevention of problems, but all adults are also aware. The probability of her having a reaction is rare, but she still skis in areas where there are the trees she is allergic to, just not very close to them. We haven’t had a problem, her class has not been asked to stay away from tree lined slopes, and her mom no longer has to come and sit in the lodge all day. Kudos to mom and daughter.

  59. Ms. Herbert July 29, 2012 at 12:31 pm #

    missjanenc isolating one child like that would be cruel. As someone with peanut allergy I think the rule is foolish. The child is going to encounter peanuts out and about in public. Best to learn how to handle the situation politely but forcibly with the back up of responsible adults.

    I also worry that a child will have a reaction to peanuts, and not be taken seriously because peanuts are not allowed on campus. Well unless they are going to inspect the laundry of every student – your going to have peanut protein on campus. You know those “nice” smelling perfumed detergents – they use peanut products to bind the scent. I damn near died because of it a few years back.

    I was house sitting for my Aunt. Went to bed, woke up in the shower – in my pajamas, sitting under the water. I had a rash every were the PJ’s didn’t cover and I couldn’t breathe right. I called a cousin and she took me to the ER.

    ER Doc said the sheets must have been washed in a detergent that used Peanut protein to bind the scent. The ER doctor was amazed that I woke up enough to get in the shower. My cousin and I weren’t – every single one of our 1st cousins, their kids, and grandkids has a history of sleepwalking. It isn’t even the first time I woke up in a bath or shower from itching.

    My rules for a safe school environment for Peanut Allergic student.
    1. Any and all food prepared on campus should be peanut free. (I couldn’t buy hot lunch in K – 5 because all lunches had to have a peanut cookie on the tray – that was flat out stupid rule)

    2. CLASSROOMS the child is going to be in should be peanut free. That means NO using M&M’s not even the plain ones for math lessons. You will have to use skittles instead. (All Mars and Nestle chocolate products in the US have peanut oil or they have may contain traces warnings.)

    3. Teasing of the I’m going to put peanuts in your food type should be treated as death threats and handled by the police. (The only times someone said this to me and didn’t follow through was when a police officer told the bitch – I should arrest you NOW, but if you leave and don’t come back I won’t.)

    4. Actually chasing a person with peanut products should be treated as attempted murder. (I have not eaten something with peanuts since well before 2001, but I’ve been in the ER about 7 times since 2001 reacting to having touched something with peanut traces on it. These were accidents, but I wouldn’t hesitate to call the cops if it was done on purpose.)

  60. Donna July 29, 2012 at 2:26 pm #

    “Of course you have the right to demand that the other children at your school be immunized! It’s the law, it’s common sense.”

    There are a number of exceptions to immunizations. Kids who can’t be immunized for medical reasons. Religious reasons. You can’t demand a kid whose sister was put into a vegetative state from her measles vaccine to get a measles vaccine (my brother’s neighbor growing up) because your kid has an immune disease. Nor can you make a Christian Scientist, at least in the US.

    “3. Teasing of the I’m going to put peanuts in your food type should be treated as death threats and handled by the police. …
    4. Actually chasing a person with peanut products should be treated as attempted murder.”

    GIVE ME A BREAK!!!!! And, before you ask, my mother has analphylactic allergies to all mammal meat and if someone who TEASED her – especially a child – was arrested for ANYTHING I’d use all my knowledge and power to defend them. Heck, I’ve teased her numerous times.

    Now actually feeding my mother a hamburger after telling her it is a turkey burger knowing she has a serious allergy may be an assault.

  61. Amanda Matthews July 31, 2012 at 12:34 am #

    @JaneW “Of course you have the right to demand that the other children at your school be immunized!”

    Nope. You have the right to not send your child to that school. You have the right to vaccinate your child or not. But you do not have the right to say what other people must do with THEIR children.

    “Here in the US, 25 infants died of whooping cough last year, and every one of those deaths was 100% preventable.”

    I’d be willing to bet that most of those 25 infants were TOO YOUNG for the whooping cough vaccine. Whooping cough is mostly passed via adults for which the vaccine has worn off (because that one is not permanent) and mostly fatal to babies too young to get the vaccine. What we SHOULD be doing is vaccinating (re-vaccinating, for those whos parents chose to get them it as a child) ADULTS for whooping cough and keeping sick people away from others (and have them wear facemasks if they absolutely must go out).

  62. BMS July 31, 2012 at 1:36 am #

    I actually had a situation recently with my college seniors. They work on required senior design projects. One group is designing a hand held peanut sheller for home use that separates the shells from the nuts. Three different students in the class have life threatening peanut allergies. So I asked the allergic students: what do you need? They worked with me to engineer a solution whereby the peanut group worked in one room (hereby designated the peanut gallery) and were supplied with hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies. The group working with peanuts closes the door and posts notices when they work, the allergic students have educated their team members about epi-pens, and everyone can get their work done. I am grateful to these students’ parents for teaching them to manage their own allergies and educate others. It was all done in a very congenial, cooperative way. I love engineers!

  63. Nicholas July 31, 2012 at 2:48 am #

    When talking about vaccines, please keep in mind the concept of herd immunity. No vaccine is 100% effective. They rely upon high vaccination rates to severely limit the spread of the disease. This means that with a 90% vaccination rate you would expect many of those who contract the disease to be vaccinated, and you can also conclusively say (from a statistical perspective) that it’s very likely the fault of those who didn’t get vaccinated, even if they themselves are not ill.

    Also, remember that generally those most succeptable are also those who are unable to get vaccinated themselves (newborns, elderly, etc). It’s the responsibility of the rest of us to keep herd immunity active so and outbreak doesn’t occur and endanger them.

  64. SDF July 31, 2012 at 3:21 am #


    FYI, hand sanitizer doesn’t remove allergen particles from a person’s hands.

  65. hineata July 31, 2012 at 6:29 pm #

    @ Jane W – I really appreciate your sentiments, but unfortunately it’s not the law down here (to vaccinate, I mean). That said, personally I do wish everyone would….

    Midge went so long without being diagnosed that she has actually had almost every vaccination going….fortunately the live ones were prior to age one, when evidently she had my antibodies still floating around. I cringe when I think about the BCG…..Anyway once again I am totally off topic, so better head off to sleep before I write something even further off!

  66. BMS July 31, 2012 at 7:08 pm #

    @SDS Seems to work, and it was suggested by the allergic people themselves, so unless students start dropping like flies, I’m going to say it’s a solution. Their biggest concern was people getting stuff on the computers in the common lab. So far, no issues.

  67. Emily August 1, 2012 at 3:14 am #

    @Donna–I’m with Ms. Herbert. There’s friendly teasing, but “teasing” someone about a life-threatening allergy they have through no fault of their own, isn’t teasing, it’s harassment at best, and yeah, threatening someone with something that can kill them, is a death threat, and yeah, that’s a criminal offense. So, someone threatening Ms. Herbert with peanuts, would be the equivalent of threatening anyone else with a loaded gun, because peanuts could kill Ms. Herbert, just like a loaded gun could kill anyone else.

  68. Lisa August 1, 2012 at 6:48 pm #

    The preschool in this article sounds like it is a DEC preschool and attached to a Primary School – you can not leave a preschool child in a primary classroom, so that would not be an alternative. It is not classed as an excursion as they are not leaving school grounds, so technically no permission is actually needed (I would have thought) probably informed parents as a matter of courtesy. Most parents are supportive of preschoolers going up to “big” school as part of their transition. Unfortunately there is some snob value attached to DEC preschools. Many are attached to low SES schools and are virtually free compared to other preschools in the area (although this year a small fee has been introduced) – so there are people out there that are happy to use the DEC preschool to save money but have no intention of sending their child to the school that is attached. This parent is probably frightened their precious child may have to mix with “public” school children. I sympathise with this teacher as it is a totally unfair situation. I think the Principal should have stood up to the parent, similiar situation at our school preschool when a parent complained about unisex toilets in preschool, she wanted us to have seperate boys and girls units installed. My Principal was very clear – “that is not going to happen and you are free to remove your children, we have a waiting list” – that was the last complaint from that parent. They soon change their minds when they are faced with the choice of DEC charging $10 per day or other centres charging around $40 per day.

  69. Patti August 3, 2012 at 12:04 am #

    As for the preschool, I had an incident when I worked as a preschool teacher that turned out a bit differently. We had a policy that children should have weather-appropriate gear and/or clothing to change into if they got wet or dirty. I had one family that insisted their three-year-old was too fragile to be out in a slight drizzle. Do you understand how fun mud is for small children? At any rate, they said their kid had to be kept inside on cold or rainy days. My director told them that if that’s what they wanted, then they’d have to come supervise their child while the rest of the class went out, since it wasn’t fair to make the rest of the class stay in and we didn’t have enough adults to split everyone like that. After a few weeks, the family got tired of coming in during outside time, the kid started coming outside, and the kid lived to tell the tale.

    I have two children with severe food allergies (one had to be flown in a helicopter to a children’s hospital after a reaction, so I’ve been there). I support peanut-free tables and hand wipes being available in classrooms where hand-washing is a challenge. I support classroom bans when warranted by age or severity though I don’t request them for my own children. But I do not support school-wide bans because they prevent faculty, staff, other students, and my own kids from learning how to prevent exposure. I’ve done a lot of thinking and reading and talking to people over the years, and I can help my children interact with the world without getting themselves killed. It’s a work in progress, obviously.

    I must say, while some adults have difficulty with the whole food allergy thing, all the kids in my children’s school have been helpful and supportive. They even saved a middle schooler’s life when a food fight broke out and he got hit by a PB sandwich. He was embarrassed and tried to hide his reaction. Several kids noticed and got an adult’s attention just before the allergic kid passed out. If peanuts had been banned and the students not informed of proper precautions and procedures, that middle schooler might be dead today. The kids don’t get upset about it and they look out for each other. They wash their hands after eating stuff they know might make their classmates sick, usually without being asked.

    It would be nice if we could all focus on looking out for each other rather than how we don’t like how other people might negatively impact our comfort.

  70. SDF August 4, 2012 at 1:33 am #


    Research from Johns Hopkins’ Pediatric Allergy and Immunology Dept. published in J Allergy Clin Immunol says it doesn’t:

    I think this misunderstanding (even by people who are allergic!) is part of a broader misunderstanding of what hand sanitizer does: it doesn’t remove dirt or anything else from one’s hands; it kills (some) pathogens. And since allergen particles aren’t pathogens and can’t be “killed,” hand sanitizer is not a reliable solution for protecting people from them.

  71. Donna August 4, 2012 at 12:12 pm #

    “So, someone threatening Ms. Herbert with peanuts, would be the equivalent of threatening anyone else with a loaded gun, because peanuts could kill Ms. Herbert, just like a loaded gun could kill anyone else.”

    THREATENING a peanut allergic person with forcing a peanut butter sandwich down her throat while holding a peanut butter sandwich may, in fact, be an assault. TEASING someone is not an assault, regardless of whether the teasing is about a peanut butter sandwich or a gun. Let’s stop equating teasing to threats.

  72. Kaatie Gertiel August 5, 2012 at 5:46 pm #

    I hate to say this, but how do parents send their children to public school if their peanut allergy is so life-threatening, even to be around a child that earlier ate peanuts will kill them? What I mean is, surely you have to know loads of kids eat either peanut butter or some peanut butter cereal for breakfast? How does that not kill these kids? I know if my kid was that severely allergic, I wouldn’t risk it. Unfortunately, what I have seen is parents claiming their kids have life-threatening peanut and other food allergies for purposes of attention and getting their way.

    We had a kid in my younger daughter’s class who was supposedly life threatened by just someone who’d eaten peanuts breathing on her. She then spent the night at my house and ate half a jar of peanut butter to no ill effect because I didn’t know she was the reason they’d banned peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in school lunches. You see, the school couldn’t tell us which child due to privacy rules, and I guess the mom assumed I knew or that the kid – then 10 – would tell us.

    It came out after many of the kids had seen her eating Reese’s Pieces prior to the slumber party at my house. I still about died when I found out she was the supposed allergic child. What if she’d actually been allergic and died or something?

    Getting back to the individual child running the rest of the school, this is absolutely what I see all the time these days. I think it is just plain rude. When I was a kid, and even when my older child was in grammar school, we didn’t see as much of this. People had manners and understood while it is fine for you to do whatever you like with your child, you have no right to prevent other children from enjoying whatever is offered just because you can’t or don’t want to. This field trip should absolutely go through, and the dissentor’s child should be given a choice of sitting at a desk doing work for whomever is available at the school, staying with a different class if that is legally permissable, or staying home would all be great options for this kid. If none of that is available, they ought to pay for a caregiver for the length of the field trip.

    The one time a single parent got to run things their way when I was in school was a mom who threw a fit because she had two kids in the band in high school. Every other group representing the school such as drill team, flags, football, and pepsquad got to rent air conditioned buses for the first football game of the year, which was being held a week earlier than had prior been usual due to changes in school year length.

    The football game was at a particularly problematic location. They’d built the stadium running east to west in hot, hot east Texas, and it was solid concrete, thus blocking most breeze. While the other kids got to sit in their air conditioned buses at 3rd quarter break, the band only got to walk around in the hot sunshine away from the bleachers where they was a slight breeze.

    Half the band wound up with varying degrees of heat stroke / heat exhaustion, and so many passed out by middle of the fourth quarter, they loaded us all into the buses and took us to the nearby hospital. 12 our of 85 band students wound up hospitalized, and the rest of us were made to drink gatorade from little cups for a couple of hours while bedded down on the floor in some sort of storage area so we could get a little air conditioning.

    While I doubt this will be quite that dramatic, it certainly sounds detrimental to the children, and shouldn’t be allowed to be missed.

  73. Ange August 7, 2012 at 2:20 pm #

    Regarding school camps and excursions – the school my teenage children go to in Melbourne (Australia) states that they are compulsory. The camps are considered part of the curriculum and are mostly in the outdoors (camping, hiking, canoeing, rock climbing etc.). When my children were younger there were some excursions (at a different school) that gave me some concern but I either volunteered to go myself (on the trip on an open ferry) or discussed it with the school (farm visit with hay rides). Sure, sometimes things happen, but I always tried to find some way to deal with any anxiety I had while still enabling my child to participate (and not passing my worries on to them). I definitely understand parents anxieties but generally my own were put to rest after I saw how the school teachers and helpers ran their excursions. On another note, when my daughter was 3 years old and attending a child care centre located in a very large city park the children were allowed outside in the park (outside the centre grounds) with staff on some occasions if parents gave their permission. On that occasion we didn’t give permission due to the many dogs allowed to run off-lead in that park and my daughter’s dislike of dogs at the time (and probably a bit to my own fear of dogs – resulting from being bitten as a child). Other children in her group still went outside, she merely stayed inside the grounds and did something else. It never seemed to be a problem for that child care centre to accommodate everyone’s needs.

  74. Warren August 17, 2012 at 8:37 am #

    Jane W,
    I take offense at you saying that someone can demand my children be vaccinated.
    My youngest daughter’s school learned the hard way, not to challenge me on that. They were going to deny her admission because she had not received the chicken pox shot. Which by the way was not given to her on the advise of our family doctor.
    And after he ripped the principle and regional sup. new ones they relented. His words, ” No agency or school has the right to determine any medical treatment for one of my patients!”


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