A new study from the University of New Hampshire discovered a link between sibling aggression and poor mental health in children and adolescents.
“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. “Our study shows that sibling aggression is not benign for children and adolescents, regardless of how severe or frequent.”
The study was one of the first of its kind to look into sibling aggression across a wide age group. It looked into the effects of physical assault both with and without a weapon, as well as stealing or breaking siblings’ possessions, and psychological aggression (or saying things that made their sibling sad or scared). They found that of the 32 per cent of children who experienced sibling victimisation, mental health distress was greater for children than adolescents.
While other forms of peer aggression such as bullying were still deemed more traumatising, sibling and peer physical and psychological aggression had serious effects on mental health.