Bullying Statistics: Sibling Bullying Common in Families

Bullying Statistics: Sibling Bullying and Family RelationshipsA recent study on sibling bullying within the family reinforced my suspicions on the subject. The study released by the Institute for Social and Economic Research [ISER] at the University of Essex along with the University of Warwick revealed some interesting statistics on bullying, including:

  • 50% of children age 11 to 15 are involved in sibling bullying within their home
  • Those children who are slapped or shouted at by their parents are more likely to bully their own siblings
  • The likelihood of sibling bullying increases with the number of children in the family
  • Middle children are more likely to be involved in bullying behavior, and youngest children are least likely to be involved in bullying behavior
  • Parents’ wealth, education level or type of family (two biological parents, step parents, single parents) did not contribute significantly to the likelihood of bullying behavior
  • Sibling bullying at home increases the likelihood of bullying in school

In my opinion, the most alarming statistic is that 50% of families are dealing with sibling bullying in some way, shape or form. I had no idea this destructive behavior was so prevalent, and I feel for those children who must deal with this destructive and demoralizing behavior. The findings of this study prove the need to stop bullying through the implementation of effective anti-bullying programs aimed not only at school bullying, but also at bullying occurring between siblings within the home.

Have you been a victim of sibling bullying yourself, and do the findings of this study hold true for you as well?

Image courtesy of Brian Tomlinson

Brought To Our Senses family saga novel by Kathleen H. Wheeler


17 thoughts on “Bullying Statistics: Sibling Bullying Common in Families

  1. memyself

    As the ‘ middle child ‘ of nine, I will state categorically that I was the bullied child in the family. The eldest child was the bully. my siblings, all will attest to this, except , of course, her. My parents encouraged her in this, as she had the “right’ to do so. No complaints listened to, except as proof of my whining. Bruises didn’t count, teasing was normal. This carried on to school. This nuns were vicious. I did not hurt others by intent, apologised constantly for any perceived wrongs.
    I have spent my life isolated, avoiding all relationships. I find this study to be over generalised in its’ reported summation.

    1. Kathleen H. Wheeler Post author

      I appreciate your thoughts on the subject and the study, and I am truly sorry for the pain you experienced and the way it has affected your life. Perhaps the study gives an over generalization of the problem, but I did find it interesting that in my case it was right on the money. I think we can both agree sibling bullying is definitely a problem though, that’s for sure.

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  4. Anna

    My brother was awful to me. He hit me, strangled me, insulted me and then lied to opur parents. I was afraid of him for years. Even now he still throws insults at me and hasd recently maniupalted our cousins to join in. Cousins I always got along well with until he starting working for them. Now all of a sudden they hate me and I’ve done nothing to them. This has gone on for over 30 years now and I just give up. No amount of bruises, phyical or emotional has proven my accusations to my blind family. My brother propered and did well in life. I failed at everything. Because he abused me and got away with it. I hoped that becoming an adult would stop the abuse but even in our 40’s he continues it. I’m praying and hoping daily that one day it all blows up in his face and the truth is finally exposed.

    1. Kathleen H. Wheeler Post author

      I’m very sorry, Anna, for your pain and what you have been through. My hope for you and others in similar situations is that you are able to come to terms with the past and move on to a happier and more productive life for yourself. Focusing positive energy on yourself instead of negative energy on others is always a better path in the long run. I’ve learned it the hard way myself, and it took many years to get past the anger.

  5. Michelle

    I started to look up these issues today after another round of terrible bullying. My sister was the main instigator for years, and my response was to be more like her in the hope that she would treat me better if I was more like her. On the contrary, this was seen as competition and simply got worse over the years. It has all come to a head now (once more) just before the scattering of my father’s ashes. I’ve decided not to attend, and never to attend another function that she is at. I am giving myself a break from all siblings, as they flux and wane with regard to support. The closer she is to either of my brothers is the one that is the most hostile. I am not the only one to experience this: being jealous of the beauty of my brother’s future wife, she called her a whore and heavily influence my brother not to marry her. He did – and now she has him side with her.

    I have learned I would rather create positive relationships for my own daughter with others who are healthy, than pursue a relationship with a family split by her narcissism and bullying. She has split this family for the final time.

    1. Kathleen H. Wheeler Post author

      Michelle, I am so sorry to hear of your difficulties and sympathize completely. I think your decision to stay as far away from the problem as possible at this point is a good one. You cannot control others, only yourself and your own actions. Stay strong and focus on the positives in your life, and I wish you well.

      1. Michelle

        Thank you for your quick response and support. Looking more and more into these stories, I recognise so much of the behaviour, such as pointing out to me at an age as young as three that everything was hers and not mine. To her and my brother destroying the only bear I had.

        I have surrounded myself with chosen family over the years, and will relax into their support and love for a far better future.

  6. Dianne

    I am a parenting who is witnessing sibling bullying. The instigator is my 20 year old daughter who is the third oldest but the older of the 4 still at home, there are 2 brothers older who now live away from home. She has 2 younger brothers and a 3 year old sister. My daughter and i have had issues since she was around 13 and thinking back she was most likely bullied by an older brother and ignored by myself. I myself was mentally and physically abused by their father for years which the older 3 children . witnessed. However the circle seems to be turning again and my 20 year old daughter is mentally and physically abusing my 10 year, and my 15 year old son finds it amusing and joins in. This is name calling, extreme teasing, and sometimes tripping up and slapping. I have on numerous occassions asked for this to stop and threatened to move the daughter out of the house, but to no avail. It is extremely upsetting for my 10 year old. I myself am sworn at and she shouts at me if I try to talk to her about stopping this. She has the 15 year old copying her although he i know wouldn’t if she wasn’t there. She can be nice to the 10 year old who in turn will be nasty to me or his 15 year old brother or his step father just to keep in with his sister. She on occasion has got her 3 year old sister to swear and hit and kick the 10 year old while she holds him down, she makes it all out to be ‘just fun’ but it is very upsetting to my 10 year old. i need help what can i do to stop this behaviour??

    1. Kathleen H. Wheeler Post author

      Dianne, I am so sorry to hear of your difficulties, but recognizing there is a problem is the first step in the right direction. I am not a professional on this subject, I am merely a victim of sibling bullying, so my advice is given from that perspective. You need professional help from a family therapist and should seek it right away, for yourself to learn how to deal with these issues and for your children to determine what their issues are that are forcing them to act out. Bullying is a vicious cycle and you must stop it, home bullies are likely to be behaving the same in other settings like school as well. You cannot let your 10 year old continue to suffer until the bullies leave your home, whenever that will be. There will be long standing repercussions from this issue for all your children for the rest of their lives. Like I said, I’m no expert, but the child who is bullying wants something and is unhappy about something, whether they can express the problem or not. You need to find it for that child and make everyone in your family know that bullying is not acceptable, is not the way to act, and will not be tolerated to stop the cycle of abuse within and outside your home. Best of luck with your efforts, my thoughts and prayers are with you to resolve your problems. Be strong and help your kids.

  7. Angela Lawson

    I am a mother of three. Over the last six months my youngest daughter has dropped out of cheer leading, decided not to particpate in any other sports, has no real friends (due mainly to the middle school girl issues), and is teary eyed and has recently started to use phrases like “i wanna kill myself”. I know my son (17) football star, well liked, alpha male, is rough on my youngest daughter but I myself, have seen and diffused (I thought) this sibling bullying he has tried on my daughter. Ove the weekend, we had a family discussion and my son was away for the weekend. My daughter shows deep fear and signs of an abused child when talking about my son. I know it had got bad at times but it is much worse than I had ever thought. He physically makes her do things she says no to. such as feeding the dog.. (he makes her by holding her by the neck and forcing her to get the dogfood out). My duaghter is in tears and is losing all confidence. I as a parent do not know what to do to help this situation. I dont know where all of my sons anger and agression towards my daughter is coming from. My daughter says there is nothing we can do, so she has already lost faith in us as her parents and looks to her brother as the powerfull one. Please help us!!!!

    1. Kathleen H. Wheeler Post author

      Angela, I am so very sorry to hear of your problems. I am not a professional, only another victim of sibling bullying. You have identified your problem, and you clearly recognize that you need help. Your son is crying out for it, so please find a family therapist for him to get to the bottom of his issues and for you to figure out what you need to do to protect your daughter. Please be strong and help your children, especially your youngest who is so vulnerable right now. My prayers are with you to do what must be done, and please do not delay.

  8. Pam Ashwood

    When I heard about the study, I breathed in a sigh of relief. I thought I was the only one. I am the youngest of 6. The fifth child, my sister Lisa (six years difference between us)bullied and tormented me all the way into my adult life. In the summer months, she was responsible to look after me. She would lock me out of the house all day, until just before my parents got home. We lived in the country. We didn’t have neighbors. I would drink water from the hose and pee and poop in the woods. I would eat berries from this one type of bush or eat raspberries. I got in trouble for eating carrots out of our garden. When she wanted to be with her friends she abandoned me at home. She would hit me with a ping pong paddle. She would slap me. She called me names. I could over-hear all of the rotten things she would say about me when she didn’t know I could hear. She would go out of her way to be cruel and abusive. I tried to commit suicide when I was 16 When I was 20 I gave birth to my daughter (I was not married). She would send me nasty letters or newspaper clippings in the mail about people on welfare. I got off welfare three years after my daughter was born. She never even looked or touched my daughter until my daughter was 4. To this day she looks beyond me when I am in the room. She has never said hello to my husband and we have been together for 16 years. She doesn’t speak to my two younger children. Despite the fact I have distanced myself from my family or origin, I am being treated for depression and anxiety. The biggest obstacle I have is when I am outside and a family member exits the house and closes the door, I panic because of what she did to me as a child. I am 48 years old now. I have no identity. I don’t know who I am. I am always looking over my shoulder to make sure I don’t make a mistake. I have a few good friends, but they all come from decent families, normal families. At least less dysfunctional than mine. I have raised three wonderful adults. There was no bullying in my home. They are there for each other and our family gatherings are fun, respectful, with a lot of laughter, for that I am grateful. My husband is very understanding about my anxieties and understands about what she put me through. We have no health insurance because we can’t afford it, otherwise I would be seeking help for the damages she inflicted on me. All I can do is distance myself to keep myself safe from my poisonous sister.

    1. Kathleen H. Wheeler Post author

      Pam, I am so sorry for the pain you have experienced, but you should know you are not alone, as the statistics prove sibling bullying is a serious issue. You are best to focus on your own happiness now, as an adult you can make your own choices and steer clear of siblings you know still want to cause you pain. You cannot change others, only yourself. Here is a link to more resources and information. At the bottom is a link to books that might interest you as you move forward positively in your own life. I wish you much health and happiness in your future, and thanks for visiting. http://www.adultchildrenofdysfunctionalfamilies.com/

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