I get it. I really do. I get it because I was once just as unfamiliar with diabetes. I get it because at some point in my life I’m sure I’ve made some joke that undoubtedly served as a face-slap to an entire subset of the population who have been affected by whatever it is I thought was hilarious. I get it.
But here’s why it’s not funny.
Someone shared this blog post on a Facebook group we belong to for parents of kids with type 1. They shared it with the hope that the T1D community would comment on the post and explain to the author how her title just perpetuates the stereotype that diabetes is caused by eating too much candy. Many parents, rightfully hurt and some outraged, commented on the post with stories of their young children, some diagnosed with type 1 even before eating solid foods, let alone candy. Others shared their frustration about the lack of distinction between type 1 and type 2 diabetes; while others offered words of support for both T1’s and T2’s.
And you know what happened? The author added this disclaimer:
Now, I know that you can’t “GIVE” your child Type I Diabetes. Type I Diabetes, in children isn’t caused by a high amount of sugar in the diet. However, Type II Diabetes is another story. Fifteen years ago, type 2 diabetes in children was almost unheard of. A 2007 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association estimated that there are about 3,700 new cases of type 2 diabetes a year among youth in the United States.
And she missed the point.
Yes, many parents of kids with type 1 were upset by her original post, myself included. However, the responses she received were not intended to simply make sure her readers were aware of the difference between Type 1 and Type 2. The responses were intended to let her know one thing: our children’s livelihood is not a joke. Regardless of whether someone has Type 1 or Type 2, this blog’s title is hurtful and just perpetuates a stereotype about what is a very serious disease.
The reality is that we have a lot of educating to do…not only about diabetes, but about kindness and respect. It’s easy to make assumptions about things we know nothing about. It’s easy, and I get it. I’ve done it, too. What makes the difference, though, is owning up to it and making the commitment to educate yourself about what you don’t know.
However, there is one thing I do know: our Halloween is gonna be awesome…candy and all.
Tricks and Cheers to Changing the World~