School Ban on Peanut Butter Brings Out the Crazy in Selfish Parents

Rant 211

peanut butter sandwichWow, people are passionate about peanut butter and jelly. What started as one Arkansas boy's sandwich has now turned into an international debate with people vehemently raging both for and against the right to eat peanut butter in schools.

It started when Jenkins Clifton-Jones took a PB&J to school one day. Apparently his mom didn't know about the six-year ban his school had in place against peanut products to protect students with allergies. According to Area Wide News, when a teacher saw him about to take a bite, she confiscated the sandwich, helped the boy get a new lunch, and sent a note home explaining the school's policy.

Sounds simple enough, right? Not even close.

Instead, his mom, Denise Clifton-Jones, took to Facebook to express her anger over the policy, and eventually started the page "School Nut Ban Discussion." Since then hundreds of people have chimed in with their very adamant opinions on either side; there's even a warning to people to stop with the profanity and name calling because it's gotten so heated. Comments like this from one woman pretty well sum up the side that's irate about the confiscation:

I joined this discussion because I am so sick of hearing about nut allergies. Many children and adults have allergies that they need to learn to deal with. Don't penalize 99.9% of the school for 1 child's allergy.

I'm flat out appalled that people could be so selfish. It seems like such a non-issue. When so many children suffer from peanut allergies (some reports say it may be as high as 1 in 25) and children can DIE if exposed to them, then I don't think asking people not to bring peanut products to school is such a big deal. It's one meal a day, and no one is going to die if they don't get their favorite sandwich.

Is it somewhat inconvenient? Sure. I always have peanut butter in my cupboard, and when I haven't been to the market in awhile, I know I can always rely on it. If I couldn't, it would be a pain, but not nearly as big as the one parents of children with food allergies face every day, worrying that some speck of food might kill their kid.

It's the epitome of laziness and self-centeredness to try and fight for the right to send your child to school with a food that could seriously harm another child. No, we can't ban every food that every child is allergic to, but nuts are a big one, so why not help these families out? I bet if those parents who are so passionate about sending peanut butter had to walk in the shoes of a parent who lives in fear of the product for even one day, they'd change their minds in a Jif (pun totally intended).

Do you think schools should ban peanut products to protect children with allergies?

Image via {N}Duran/Flickr

in the news, kid health, kids nutrition, school lunch


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nonmember avatar Cleak

I think it isn't too much to ask for people to not bring nut based products to school, however it does tend to create a slippery slope. You state that it is absurd to ban all products that any one student in the school might be allergic to but some schools try to do just that. This issue is further complicated by the way schools treat medicine. They have to lock up epi-pens and inhalers to keep them "safe" or keep them with a nurse, who may be on the other side of the school, which essentially renders them useless in an emergency. I think the true answer to this debate lies in teaching children to manage their allergies well and trusting them to do so. We do no one any favors by over coddling.

work4... work4mickey

There are a few questions I have.

Are there actually any students at the school who have the alergy? Notice it's a blanket ban (6 years) and is not in place because of a paticular student, or group of students.

What grade was this?

This king of ban makes sense in younger grades (when children cannot be expected to be responsible for their safety) but I've heard of high schools having this ban. By high school students with alergies should know what precautions to take.

But also this ban gives parents of children with alergies a false sense of security. Many products that you might not ecpect have peanut products (my favorite brand of potato chips are fried in peanut oil). Also kids might just sneak stuff in.

Heather Duso Johnson

So what are these kids gonna do when they grow up and have to go to college or get jobs?   Do you not take them to public parks or the mall?   

work4... work4mickey

Cleak, as you noted, I do think it's a bigger issue that kids with alergies aren't allowed to keep their epi-pens on them for emergencies.

nonmember avatar Clark

I believe this is another case of increasing intolerance in society for those who are different, and a huge opportunity is being missed to bring people together in understanding rather than driving them apart with mistrust.

Yes, peanut allergies are serious; as are bee stings and other allergies that others share. You shouldn't ban nut products for the same reason you can't ban insects on the playground - its near impossible, as this story indicates. Despite a six year long ban, peanut butter is still brought to school by a parent unaware of the ban.

Instead of banning the product, we should educate both those who enjoy a PB&J and those who find them deadly. Washing one's hands after a meal is a society norm which would prevent contact, just as staying away from bees is a society norm. This lesson would give further value to making sure kinds are sensitive to the needs of others, and instead of making it a ban, kids could make it a choice because it's the right thing to do in order to support their schoolmate's disability.

Banning products deprives others of a choice, ostracizes those who have a disability, and deprives society of a sorely needed lesson in how to get along.

Miche... Michelephant

I understand a nut ban for elementary school. A child that young with an allergy, no matter how responsible he/she is, cannot be expected to keep a look out everywhere.  And other kids around him may not fully understand the severity of the allergy and put their sticky peanut butter hands everywhere.  I see lots of parents saying how selfish it is to send a child with a cold to school but no one seems to mind sending their kid to school with the nut allergy equivalent of a nuclear bomb.

nonmember avatar Gretta

I often wonder about other food sensitivities though... what if your kid is allergic to milk? Gluten? Eggs? Strawberries? In this line of thinking shouldn't schools ban those too?

the4m... the4mutts

If your kid could die from inhaling nut dust, or touching nut grease, then they NEED to be in a special environment. Whether that be homeschooling, or a private school, or even a school for kids with a disability. They need to be taught that the stuff is everywhere, and that they need to avoid it. What happens when they're out in the real world, like their first job or something, and an employee brings a granola bar w/peanuts, or a pb& j, or pb on celery sticks for their lunch? You can't expect an employer, or any of the real world for that matter, to cator to someones allergy.

Public Schools shouldn't have to either.

I would like, more than anything, to see 1 school for each level of schooling, per district, that allows ONLY kids with allergies. It won't take any time out of anyone else's day, and they could help prepare kids to deal with allergies in a school/employment type setting. Better for everyone all around.

nonmember avatar em

My son had a food allergy that could have killed him as a small child. It was VERY stressful trying to make sure he was not fed something by accident. Teachers had been known to give him the wrong food. Eventually he grew out of it. Nut allergies are so much worse. We have quite a few children in our school, sounds like the national average. I would be very upset if my child brought something with nuts to school that hurt another child. So school is all nut free in my mind. I get that the children with allergies will need to learn to deal with the "real world" but the real world is not a confined space of little children eating pb&j and getting it on their hands and clothing and spreading it all over the playground.

Ashle... AshleyB1984

This ban is ridiculous. People have allergies to all kinds of things: nuts, shellfish, gluten, strawberries.  You can't possibly think that if your child is allergic, everyone else should be so accomodating. This parent needs to teach their child that they should stay away from whatever ails them. Your child would have to live in a bubble to never be exposed to any type of nut.

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