Sibling Bullying Isn’t Healthy
Anyone who has an older sibling is well aware of the type of sibling bullying and taunting that occurs within the household. The vast majority of parents consider it normal, but CBS News says that it may not be so harmless.
A new study claims that taunting or aggression by brothers and sisters is connected to significantly worse mental health in children when compared to children who hadn’t been bullied by their siblings. The researchers, lead by Corinna Jenkins Tucker, associate professor of family studies at the University of New Hampshire, said the affect is equatable to peer bullying, which has been shown to increase the risk for psychological problems as an adult.
“Even kids who reported just one instance had more mental health distress,” lead author Corinna Jenkins Tucker, associate professor of family studies at UNH and lead author of the research, said in a press release. “Our study shows that sibling aggression is not benign for children and adolescents, regardless of how severe or frequent.”
The study analyzed data from the National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence (NatSCEV), a national survey of 3,600 children ranging from one month to 17 years old. Thirty-two percent of the children reported sibling bullying.
The researchers then looked for signs of mental health distress such as anxiety of depression symptoms, and they found the overall rates of mental health problems brought on by sibling aggression was the same across all ages, and roughly equal to the signs reported by those who endured peer bullying.
“If siblings hit each other, there’s a much different reaction than if that happened between peers,” Tucker explained. “It’s often dismissed, seen as something that’s normal or harmless. Some parents even think it’s beneficial, as good training for dealing with conflict and aggression in other relationships.”