Sibling Rivalry

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Sibling Abuse: The Truth

Sibling child abuse is a hidden epidemic in the United States. Parents and caregivers often conclude this form of violence to be simple sibling rivalry, and a part of growing up. Sibling abuse is any form of physical, mental or sexual abuse inflicted by one child in a family unit on another. This could apply to blood relatives, step-siblings, or any minors living in a house of cohabitation. The negative impact sibling rivalry and abuse can have on a person mentally is overwhelming, insuring further life difficulties.

The effects of sibling abuse are different from the effects of stranger or acquaintance abuse due to the victim can have a feeling of being trapped by the abuser over a long period of time. A National Family Violence Survey was conducted to construct the following characteristics of sibling abuse: Sibling abuse occurs at a higher rate among children in families in which both child abuse and intimate partner abuse are present, sibling assaults are higher in families with child abuse than those with intimate partner abuse, both sexes participate in sibling abuse, but boys are more likely engage.

It is my belief that first, the role of rivalry should be clarified. In addition to pursuing further research on sibling conflict and its developmental implications, researchers should rely less on self-reports and utilizes observational methods. Until we broaden the scope of research and fill in the many

gaps in our knowledge about sibling interactions, including conflict, we cannot clarify the role siblings play in competitiveness and in each other’s development mentally, and socially. Second, we need to father investigate the implications of parental involvement and parenting styles and their direct impact on sibling’s social skills. The question of whether parent’s involvement in childhood conflict properly prepares siblings for peer conflict later in life needs to be resolved.

A 1992 study of 3,357 students concluded that 74% of students approved of hitting their siblings if they were reacting to being hit first, 43% approved of striking their sibling if he or she broke something belonging to them, 38% approved of hitting their sibling if that sibling made fun of the student in front of friends, and 25% agreed it was ok to strike a sibling if there was an argument and the sibling would not listen to reason (Felson).

To better understand sibling rivalry we must first identify the causes of childhood rivalry and abusive behavior, and began to recognize the parent’s role in causing and preventing aggressive behavior. In a study published last year in the journal Child Maltreatment, a group of sociologists found that 35 percent of children had been "hit or attacked" by a sibling in the previous year. The study was based on phone interviews with a representative national sample of 2,030 children or those who take care of them. Although some of the attacks may have been fleeting and harmless, more than a third were troubling, and required further investigation. According to a preliminary analysis of unpublished data from the study, 14 percent of the children were repeatedly attacked by a sibling. 4.55 percent were hit hard enough to sustain injuries like bruises, cuts, chipped teeth and an occasional broken bone, and 2 percent were hit by brothers or sisters wielding rocks, toys, broom handles, shovels and even knives.

The sibling attacks in Dr. Felson's study were equally frequent among children of all races and socioeconomic groups; they were most frequent on children 6 to 12, slightly more frequent on boys than

on girls, and tapered off gradually as children entered adolescence. Children ages 2 to 9 who were repeatedly attacked were twice as likely as others their age to show severe symptoms of trauma, anxiety and depression, sleeplessness, crying spells, thoughts of suicide, and fears of the dark. Further unpublished data from the...
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