If a child with a peanut allergy comes into contact with peanut butter, the consequences could be severe. Which makes what happened recently at Dufferin Grove Park in Toronto, Ontario, way more than a harmless prank.
Last week, alarmed local parents were warning others in their community after they found the play structure at the park smeared in peanut butter. According to one mom who took her 2-year-old son to the park to play on Aug. 10, the peanut butter was everywhere: on the hand railings, the ladder and all over the swings and slides.
Peanuts can cause a severe, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis), making it crucial for parents to keep their children with allergies well away from peanuts and peanut products. While casual contact with peanuts — for example, touching peanut butter residue — is less likely to trigger a severe reaction, it still poses a huge risk for kids, who may not have the sense to ensure that the peanut butter doesn't come into contact with their eyes, nose or mouth.
As word of the vandalism spread across social media, parents shared their shock and concern, referring to the culprit as a "sociopath" and a "psychopath." Any vandalism of kids' play equipment is worrying, but this incident is particularly disturbing simply because it's so malicious. Fortunately, the peanut butter was removed from the park quickly, before it could cause serious harm.
Even more worrying is the fact that the Dufferin Grove Park smear is believed to be the fourth incident of this kind in parks in the west end of Toronto in recent months. Reports of peanut butter smears in Carleton Park, Perth Square and Hillcrest Park were received, although in those instances, parks staff couldn't detect any traces of peanut butter when they arrived on the scene.
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