Sibling Bullying Linked to Mental Health Problems in Study

June 17, 2013 Updated: July 18, 2015

Sibling bullying, taunting, and aggression could cause psychological problems, including anxiety and depression, according to a new study.

Brother and sister aggression was linked to much worse mental health in adolescents and children when compared to children who were not bullied by their siblings, according to a study published in “Pediatrics.”

Corinna Jenkins Tucker, associate professor of family studies at UNH and the lead study author, said in a press release that “kids who reported just one instance had more mental health distress.”

“Our study shows that sibling aggression is not benign for children and adolescents, regardless of how severe or frequent,” she said.

Researchers analyzed data from the National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence, which took a national sample of 3,599 children between the ages of one month to 17 years old.

The study evaluated physical assault, injury, property aggression–including stealing or breaking toys, psychological aggression, and other incidents.

“The researchers found that of the 32 percent of children who reported experiencing one type of sibling victimization in the past year, mental health distress was greater for children (1 month to age 9) than for adolescents (age 10 – 17) who experienced mild sibling physical assault, but children and adolescents were similarly affected by other psychological or property aggression from siblings,” reads the press release.

Following the findings, Tucker said that she hopes parents can be more vigilant about sibling aggression.

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