Bullying hits closer to home: more damage to kids when bullied by siblings, study finds

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If it hasn t already, the subject of bullying has hit closer to home nay, at home now more than ever.

A new study finds that bullying by a sibling can be just as damaging as bullying by classmates and peers in school, linking the behavior to increased risk of depression and anxiety in victimized children and teens. From physical to emotional abuse, the link holds true, researchers say.

In fact, the study shows that sibling aggression is linked to worse mental health (for the victim), and in some cases it s similar to what you find for peer aggression, says lead author Corinna Jenkins Tucker, associate professor of family studies at the University of New Hampshire in Durham.

Data from nearly 3,600 kids ages 17 and under with at least one other sibling in the household was analyzed. Researchers interviewed the teens about bullying within the household; parents responded for those under the age of 9.

Mental health and four types of aggressive behaviors were measured mild and severe physical assault, property aggression, and psychological assault. Researchers found that being the victim is linked to lower well-being for children and teens. Furthermore, the damage was found to be greater in younger children than in the older adolescents.

ACSH s associate director of public health, Ariel Savransky notes, This is a no-brainer. The fact that kids who were bullied at home had higher scores on anxiety, depression and anger demonstrates that this type of bullying cannot just be dismissed as kids being kids. Being bullied as a child by a sibling, especially if that child is always the victim, has the potential to be detrimental to the child s life into adulthood, and it s really dismissed way too easily as being harmless. We often say that talking about bullying starts at home, but the act itself shouldn t.