Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Sibling aggression linked to poor mental health

Date:
June 17, 2013
Source:
University of New Hampshire
Summary:
Fights between siblings are so common they’re often dismissed as simply part of growing up. Yet a new study finds that sibling aggression is associated with significantly worse mental health in children and adolescents. In some cases, effects of sibling aggression on mental health were the same as those of peer aggression.

Angry little boy glaring and fighting with his brother.
Credit: crestajohnson / Fotolia

"It's not fair!" " "You're not the boss of me." "She hit me!" "He started it." Fights between siblings -- from toy-snatching to clandestine whacks to being banished from the bedroom -- are so common they're often dismissed as simply part of growing up. Yet a new study from researchers at the University of New Hampshire finds that sibling aggression is associated with significantly worse mental health in children and adolescents. In some cases, effects of sibling aggression on mental health were the same as those of peer aggression.

Related Articles


"Even kids who reported just one instance had more mental health distress," says Corinna Jenkins Tucker, associate professor of family studies at UNH and lead author of the research, published in the July issue of the journal Pediatrics. "Our study shows that sibling aggression is not benign for children and adolescents, regardless of how severe or frequent."

The study, among the first to look at sibling aggression across a wide age and geographic range, is unique in its size and scope. Tucker and her co-authors from UNH's Crimes against Children Research Center -- center director and professor of sociology David Finkelhor, professor of sociology Heather Turner, and researcher Anne Shattuck -- analyzed data from the center's National Survey of Children's Exposure to Violence (NatSCEV), a national sample of 3,599 children, ages one month through 17.

The study looked at the effects of physical assault with and without a weapon or injury, property aggression like stealing something or breaking a siblings' things on purpose, and psychological aggression such as saying things that made a sibling feel bad, scared, or not wanted around.

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.

Their analyses also showed that, while peer aggression like bullying is generally thought to be more serious than sibling aggression, sibling and peer physical and psychological aggression had independent effects on mental health. The mental health of those experiencing property and psychological aggression, whether from siblings or peers, did not differ.

An important implication of this research, Tucker says, is that parents and caregivers should take sibling aggression seriously. "If siblings hit each other, there's a much different reaction than if that happened between peers," she says. "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." This research indicates that sibling aggression is related to the same serious mental health effects as peer bullying.

The authors suggest that pediatricians take a role in disseminating this information to parents at office visits, and that parent education programs include a greater emphasis on sibling aggression and approaches to mediate sibling conflicts.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of New Hampshire. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Corinna Jenkins Tucker, David Finkelhor, Heather Turner, and Anne Shattuck. Association of Sibling Aggression With Child and Adolescent Mental Health. Pediatrics, June 17, 2013 DOI: 10.1542/peds.2012-3801

Cite This Page:

University of New Hampshire. "Sibling aggression linked to poor mental health." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 June 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130617091142.htm>.
University of New Hampshire. (2013, June 17). Sibling aggression linked to poor mental health. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130617091142.htm
University of New Hampshire. "Sibling aggression linked to poor mental health." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130617091142.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Touch-Free Smart Phone Empowers Mobility-Impaired

Touch-Free Smart Phone Empowers Mobility-Impaired

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) A touch-free phone developed in Israel enables the mobility-impaired to operate smart phones with just a movement of the head. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) Polish scientists isolate bacteria from earthworm intestines which they say may be used in antibiotics and cancer treatments. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) A team of scientists led by Danish chemist Jorn Christensen says they have isolated two chemical compounds within an existing antipsychotic medication that could be used to help a range of failing antibiotics work against killer bacterial infections, such as Tuberculosis. Jim Drury went to meet him. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hugging It Out Could Help You Ward Off A Cold

Hugging It Out Could Help You Ward Off A Cold

Newsy (Dec. 21, 2014) Carnegie Mellon researchers found frequent hugs can help people avoid stress-related illnesses. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins