What’s Your Take on the Peanut Butter and Jelly Debate?

When I was a kid growing up in Los Angeles, other than visiting the beautiful beaches of Santa Monica on the weekend with my parents, the only other thing that put a gigantic smile on my face was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. One-half peanut butter and the other half Welch’s grape jelly – delicious. The peanut butter would stick to the roof of my mouth and the jelly was sweet. I’d have a glass of cold water nearby so that I could chew and sip interchangeably. Oh those were the days. So, why on earth would a school impose a six-year ban on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? Well, the answer is not a simple one. It will leave you wondering both why and why not – but you may end your tune with why?

A student in Arkansas was just about to open wide and take a big bite out of his peanut butter and jelly sandwich when his teacher swooped in and grabbed the sandwich right out of his hand. The teacher was honoring the current ban on PB&J sandwiches which the school had in effect for six long, agonizing years. The teacher took immediate possession of the sandwich and assisted the student in getting a new lunch. She then wrote a short note to the kid’s parents explaining why she confiscated the sandwich and replaced the child’s lunch with something that was more acceptable. She sent the infamous note home with the student.

After reading the note, the child’s mother, Denise Clifton-Jones went ballistic. Clifton-Jones took to her Facebook page to discuss the peanut butter ban that was imposed by the school and strictly enforced by the teachers and that’s when things got heated. Everyone all over the world chimed in about why they were for the ban and why they were against it. Seemed each side had very valid arguments. However, I think the side I would concur with would be the side that supported the ban on peanuts. Before, you get all huffy and puffy, let me explain why.

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, about 2 to 2.5 percent of Americans suffer from food allergies, including allergies to peanuts and peanut products, such as peanut butter. Allergies to peanuts and peanut products are extremely common and often manifest during a child’s first years. While some people eventually outgrow food allergies, most never outgrow peanut allergies. This can be a dangerous allergy, in addition to fish and shellfish, peanuts (and tree nuts) are most likely to trigger anaphylaxis, a serious reaction.

Anaphylaxis is a serious allergic reaction that is a rapid onset and may cause death. As a parent, if I am aware of the fact that other children, who attend the same school as my child (ren), may suffer a life-threatening illness or reaction to peanut butter, then I would certainly agree with enforcing the ban. Remember, we are talking about children and their exposure to a life-threatening allergic reaction that could result in death. Worldwide 0.05–2% of people are estimated to have anaphylaxis at some point in their life and rates appear to be increasing.

Fact, children have actually lost their lives while in school, due to peanut exposure. It’s all about protecting our children and if that means adhering to a ban on peanuts so that ALL children can be protected, then I support it.

On the other hand, why should we impose a ban on ninety eight percent of the population, by making other children suffer (by preventing them from being able to enjoy something few considered harmful many years ago?) It’s two percent of kids, versus ninety eight percent of kids – that’s a no-brainer, majority wins. However, not in the case of this particular school in Arkansas; whom although the minority, were the victor. We should do everything we can to protect ALL children. If one child is at risk, then I absolutely support NUT-FREE ZONES in our schools. No pun intended.

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