Sibling Violence

Sibling ViolenceDefinition

  • Sibling violence or abuse occurs when one member of the sibling dyad intentionally causes psychological or physical harm, injury, or death to a brother or sister.
  • The range of behaviors includes humiliating, threatening or terrorizing, pushing, hitting, kicking, beating or using weapons. The repeated pattern of the acts is what defines the behavior as sibling abuse.

Facts

  • Sibling violence may be one of the most frequently occurring forms of family violence in the United States
  • Sibling violence is one of the most underreported and least understood forms of family violence
  • Past research focuses on physical violence, suggesting that 82% of children engaged in one violent act towards a sibling in the preceding year. 88% of males and 94% of females were victims of sibling violence in the preceding year
  • Αge is inversely related to the incidence of sibling violence: as children develop better verbal skills the need to use violence decreases
  • Siblings closer in age report more violence than those spaced further apart
  • Male/male siblings experience the most violence and the most severe physical violence.4
  • Parent to child violence is a more robust predictor of sibling violence than parent to parent violence
  • Mother to child violence is less predictive of sibling violence than father to child violence
  • Sibling violence is a statistically significant predictor of dating violence

Implications

Problems most often reported by adults with childhood histories of negative sibling interactions include the following:
  • difficulty with relationships: mistrust, suspiciousness, fearfulness, hateful feelings, problems relating, inability to form intimate relationships, troubled parent-child relationships; poor peer relationships; aversion to nonsexual physical contact, revictimization in subsequent relationships
  • negative emotions: self-blame, depression, anxiety, anger, low self-esteem
  • sexual dysfunction: avoidance of sexual contact, sexual compulsiveness, promiscuity, sexual response difficulties
  • posttraumatic stress symptoms: intrusive thoughts, flashbacks

References

  1. Coulter, M.L. (2005, May 21). Child Neglect, Sibling Violence and Abuse of the Disabled Lecture. University of South Florida College of Public Health.
  2. Caffaro, J.V., & Conn-Caffaro, A. (1998). Sibling abuse trauma : assessment and intervention strategies for children, families, and adults. New York : Haworth Maltreatment and Trauma Press.
  3. Steinmetz, S.K. (1977). The cycle of violence : assertive, aggressive, and abusive family interaction. New York : Praeger.
  4. Noland, V.J., Liller, K.D., McDermott, R.J., Coulter, M.L. & Seraphine, A.E. (2004). Is adolescent sibling violence a precursor to college dating violence? American Journal of Health Behavior, 28(1): S13-23.
  5. Barnett, O.W., Miller-Perrin, C.L., & Perrin, R.D. (2005). Family violence across the lifespan: An introduction. Second edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications

Connect with us!