Sibling as Bully

A recently published article in the journal Pediatrics titled, “Association of Sibling Aggression With Child and Adolescent Mental Health” has received a substantial amount of western media attention.

The study found that children and adolescents who experienced sibling aggression in the form of physical assault, property victimization, and/or psychological aggression were more likely to have worse mental health outcomes as measured by the Trauma Symptom Checklist for Young Children and Children.  The study also found that the effects of sibling bullying were distinct and independent from the effects of peer bullying.

While this is only one study (it did however utilized a large national sample), the findings challenge the belief that sibling aggression is somehow less or not harmful.  Bullying has received a great deal of attention in the United States with corresponding efforts to try and prevent this form of violence.  Given how common sibling aggression is (32% of children in the study reported being victimized by a sibling), it seems important to think of ways to prevent this form of bullying as well.

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