Parents Angry Over Food Allergy Bullying in Movie 'Peter Rabbit' | IUK Med Online
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Parents Angry Over Food Allergy Bullying in Movie 'Peter Rabbit'

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Parents Angry Over Food Allergy Bullying in Movie ‘Peter Rabbit’

Call for boycott prompts apology from Sony Pictures

MedpageToday

  • by Contributing Writer

Beatrix Potter’s mischievous bunny Peter Rabbit is once again in trouble, but this time it’s with parents of children with food allergies.

Sony Pictures is being met with a firestorm of criticism from furious parents over a scene in its newly released, eponymous movie in which Peter and his friends pelt their human nemesis, Mr. McGregor, with blackberries — knowing that he is severely allergic. When one lands in his mouth, he must resort to self-injecting epinephrine.

Angry parents took to Twitter late last week with the hashtag #boycottpeterrabbit, and the Asthma and Allergy Foundation (AAFA) group Kids with Food Allergies issued an open letter to Sony Pictures and its affiliates calling on them to “help in preventing food allergy bullying.”

“Depicting a character being attacked intentionally with his food allergen in order to trigger anaphylaxis is alarming,” AAFA president and CEO Kenneth Mendez noted in a written press statement. “With six million kids living with potentially life-threatening food allergies across America, anaphylaxis is not funny.”

Bullying via food allergy is not merely hypothetical. A 2010 study by Scott Sicherer, MD, and colleagues from the Mount Sinai Jaffe Food Allergy Institute in New York City found it was common among children and even adults.

One-quarter of children surveyed in that study reported a history of being bullied because of their food allergies, and more than half (57%) reported that the harassment included physical events, such as having an allergen thrown or waved at them.

Just 2 weeks ago, a group of Pennsylvania teens faced criminal charges after deliberately exposing a classmate to pineapple, to which the girl was known to be allergic.

Sony Pictures and the creative team behind the movie issued an apology late Sunday, according to the Associated Press.

Reactions from allergy specialists who spoke to MedPage Today about the movie controversy were mixed.

Allergist Christine Cho, MD, of Denver’s National Jewish Health, called the scene “unfortunate and inexcusable.”

“Children with food allergies not only have stress and anxiety over the possibility of having a severe, life-threatening reaction, but many also face bullying,” Cho said.

“I am a pediatric allergist who has witnessed anaphylaxis, and there is nothing funny about having to use the epinephrine in real life. It is unfortunate and inexcusable to have a children’s movie that seems to trivialize food allergy and anaphylaxis, conditions that in this day and age are quite common.”

But pediatric pulmonologist Miles Weinberger, MD, of the University of Iowa, noted that children’s entertainment has a long tradition of hyperbolic imagery.

“It seems to me that movies and particularly cartoons have long displayed behaviors that shouldn’t be emulated,” he said. “Whether children readily identify those as fiction, not to be emulated, is unclear, but to pick specifically throwing berries at an allergic person seems more benign than blowing him up with a bomb or dropping a piano on him, both of which are common in cartoons. I think this is better ignored than bringing a lot of attention to it.”

2018-02-13T15:15:00-0500
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Medpage Today

Parents Angry Over Food Allergy Bullying in Movie 'Peter Rabbit'

Call for boycott prompts apology from Sony Pictures

MedpageToday

  • by Contributing Writer

Beatrix Potter's mischievous bunny Peter Rabbit is once again in trouble, but this time it's with parents of children with food allergies.

Sony Pictures is being met with a firestorm of criticism from furious parents over a scene in its newly released, eponymous movie in which Peter and his friends pelt their human nemesis, Mr. McGregor, with blackberries -- knowing that he is severely allergic. When one lands in his mouth, he must resort to self-injecting epinephrine.

Angry parents took to Twitter late last week with the hashtag #boycottpeterrabbit, and the Asthma and Allergy Foundation (AAFA) group Kids with Food Allergies issued an open letter to Sony Pictures and its affiliates calling on them to "help in preventing food allergy bullying."

"Depicting a character being attacked intentionally with his food allergen in order to trigger anaphylaxis is alarming," AAFA president and CEO Kenneth Mendez noted in a written press statement. "With six million kids living with potentially life-threatening food allergies across America, anaphylaxis is not funny."

Bullying via food allergy is not merely hypothetical. A 2010 study by Scott Sicherer, MD, and colleagues from the Mount Sinai Jaffe Food Allergy Institute in New York City found it was common among children and even adults.

One-quarter of children surveyed in that study reported a history of being bullied because of their food allergies, and more than half (57%) reported that the harassment included physical events, such as having an allergen thrown or waved at them.

Just 2 weeks ago, a group of Pennsylvania teens faced criminal charges after deliberately exposing a classmate to pineapple, to which the girl was known to be allergic.

Sony Pictures and the creative team behind the movie issued an apology late Sunday, according to the Associated Press.

Reactions from allergy specialists who spoke to MedPage Today about the movie controversy were mixed.

Allergist Christine Cho, MD, of Denver's National Jewish Health, called the scene "unfortunate and inexcusable."

"Children with food allergies not only have stress and anxiety over the possibility of having a severe, life-threatening reaction, but many also face bullying," Cho said.

"I am a pediatric allergist who has witnessed anaphylaxis, and there is nothing funny about having to use the epinephrine in real life. It is unfortunate and inexcusable to have a children's movie that seems to trivialize food allergy and anaphylaxis, conditions that in this day and age are quite common."

But pediatric pulmonologist Miles Weinberger, MD, of the University of Iowa, noted that children's entertainment has a long tradition of hyperbolic imagery.

"It seems to me that movies and particularly cartoons have long displayed behaviors that shouldn't be emulated," he said. "Whether children readily identify those as fiction, not to be emulated, is unclear, but to pick specifically throwing berries at an allergic person seems more benign than blowing him up with a bomb or dropping a piano on him, both of which are common in cartoons. I think this is better ignored than bringing a lot of attention to it."

2018-02-13T15:15:00-0500
Comments

Accessibility Statement

At MedPage Today, we are committed to ensuring that individuals with disabilities can access all of the content offered by MedPage Today through our website and other properties. If you are having trouble accessing www.medpagetoday.com, MedPageToday's mobile apps, please email legal@ziffdavis.com for assistance. Please put "ADA Inquiry" in the subject line of your email.



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