Bullying on the school
playground is bad—everyone knows that. Yet a new threat may be going on, right
under parents' noses at home: bullying between siblings.
Brothers and sisters, of
course, have been hazing each other since the dawn of time, and parents
generally tolerate this behavior as harmless. But a new study in the journal Pediatrics argues otherwise: Using data
from interviews with over 3,600 children under 17, the study examined physical
assaults but also more psychological forms of mistreatment like threats,
name-calling, stealing or destruction of property.
All told, one-third of the
children in the study reported being victimized in some manner by a brother or
sister in the past year. What's more, these kids scored higher on traits like
anxiety, depression and anger. Later on, these kids ended up having more mental health
problems than those who weren't bullied by siblings. The study also compared
the impact of being bullied by a siblings to being bullied by a peer on the
playground, and found that they had similar effects: Bullying is bullying, no
matter who's doing it.
siblings hit each other, there's a much different reaction than if that
happened between peers," said the study's
lead author Corinna Jenkins Tucker, an associate professor of family
studies at the University of New Hampshire. "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
the verdict is in: Bullies at home are bad news, too, so don't turn a blind