ArticlePDF Available

The Combination of Sibling Victimization and Parental Child Maltreatment on Mental Health Problems and Delinquency


Abstract and Figures

This study examined how the combination of sibling victimization and parental child maltreatment is related to mental health problems and delinquency in childhood and adolescence. Co-occurrence, additive associations, and interactive associations of sibling victimization and parental child maltreatment were investigated using a sample of 2,053 children aged 5–17 years from the National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence. The results provide primarily evidence for additive associations and only suggest some co-occurrence and interactive associations of sibling victimization and child maltreatment. Evidence for co-occurrence was weak and, when controlling for the other type of maltreatment, only found for neglect. Sibling victimization was related to more mental health problems and delinquency over and above the effect of child abuse and neglect. Moderation by sibling victimization depended on child age and was only found for the relation between both types of child maltreatment by parents and delinquency. For mental health, no interactive associations were found. These results highlight the unique and combined associations between sibling victimization on child development.
Content may be subject to copyright.
The Combination of Sibling Victimization
and Parental Child Maltreatment on Mental
Health Problems and Delinquency
Sheila R. van Berkel
, Corinna Jenkins Tucker
, and David Finkelhor
This study examined how the combination of sibling victimization and parental child maltreatment is related to mental health
problems and delinquency in childhood and adolescence. Co-occurrence, additive associations, and interactive associations of
sibling victimization and parental child maltreatment were investigated using a sample of 2,053 children aged 5–17 years from the
National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence. The results provide primarily evidence for additive associations and only
suggest some co-occurrence and interactive associations of sibling victimization and child maltreatment. Evidence for co-
occurrence was weak and, when controlling for the other type of maltreatment, only found for neglect. Sibling victimization
was related to more mental health problems and delinquency over and above the effect of child abuse and neglect. Moderation by
sibling victimization depended on child age and was only found for the relation between both types of child maltreatment by
parents and delinquency. For mental health, no interactive associations were found. These results highlight the unique and
combined associations between sibling victimization on child development.
sibling victimization, child maltreatment, delinquency, mental health, neglect, physical abuse
Conflict, even when it involves aggression, between siblings is
often seen as a normative and harmless component of sibling
relationships (Caspi, 2012). As a consequence, sibling victimi-
zation is one of the least studied forms of within-family vio-
lence (Kiselica & Morrill-Richards, 2007), even though it
occurs more often than maltreatment by a parent (Finkelhor,
Turner, Shattuck, & Hamby, 2015). Despite this lacuna in
research concerning sibling victimization, a few studies have
demonstrated the potential detrimental effects sibling victimi-
zation has on both psychological and behavioral adjustment in
childhood and adolescence. During childhood, sibling victimi-
zation is related to a lower self-esteem, more depression, anxi-
ety, self-harming behavior, conduct problems, and general
mental health problems (Bowes, Wolke, Joinson, Lereya, &
Lewis, 2014; Garcia, Shaw, Winslow, & Yaggi, 2000;
Graham-Bermann, Cutler, Litzenberger, & Schwartz, 1994;
Tucker, Finkelhor, Turner, & Shattuck, 2013). Adolescents
who are victimized by a sibling have more mental health prob-
lems and are more likely to engage in externalizing behavior
and delinquency (Criss & Shaw, 2005; Natsuaki, Ge, Reiss, &
Neiderhiser, 2009; Tucker, Finkelhor, Turner, et al., 2013).
Dyadic interactions within the family cannot be understood
as individual processes influencing child development, given
that interactions between family members are interrelated and
continuously influence each other (Cox & Paley, 1997; Stocker
& Youngblade, 1999; Tippett & Wolke, 2015; Tucker,
Finkelhor, Turner, & Shattuck, 2015). There is a wide agree-
ment on this family system approach, and a small body of
evidence exists for such associations between parent–child and
sibling interactions. Investigating the effect of victimization for
one family dyad might ignore the more complex family-wide
effects victimization may have on child development. Only a
small number of studies exist and show that child maltreatment
by parents and sibling victimization are associated (Bowes
et al., 2014; Button & Gealt, 2010; Straus, Gelles, & Steinmetz,
1980/2006). These results are, however, limited to a focus on
ineffective parenting or hostile parent–child interactions
(Bank, Burraston, & Snyder, 2004; Garcia et al., 2000;
Ingoldsby, Shaw, & Garcia, 2001). In the current study, we
expand on previous work by directly comparing the unique and
Department of Child and Family Studies, Leiden University, Leiden, the
Department of Human Development and Family Studies, University of New
Hampshire, Durham, NH, USA
Crimes against Children Research Center, University of New Hampshire,
Durham, NH, USA
Corresponding Author:
Sheila R. van Berkel, Centre for Child and Family Studies, Leiden University,
P.O. Box 9555, 2300 RB Leiden, the Netherlands.
Child Maltreatment
ªThe Author(s) 2018
Reprints and permission:
DOI: 10.1177/1077559517751670
combined associations of sibling victimization and parental
child maltreatment with mental health and delinquency over
the course of childhood and adolescence using a nationally
representative U.S. sample. Our work will highlight possible
family-wide effects of within-family violence.
From the family system perspective, three patterns of reci-
procal and combined effects of parent and sibling interactions
can be distinguished: cross-system contagion, additive effects,
and interaction effects. Cross-system contagion is the process
by which negative interaction patterns in one dyad spread to
other dyads within the family (Criss & Shaw, 2005) often
through processes of observational learning (Patterson, Reid,
& Dishion, 1992). For example, exposure to coercive or hostile
sibling interactions. In addition, parental neglect may increase
sibling victimization by modeling a lack of supportive and
empathic behaviors (Linares, 2006). Furthermore, contagion
may occur through a spillover effect due to the stress children
experience from parental maltreatment that is expressed via
aggressive sibling interactions. Cross-system contagion may
be the explanatory effect for the co-occurrence of several forms
of victimization. Previous studies have found evidence for the
co-occurrence of dysfunctional and hostile parenting and sib-
ling conflict and victimization during childhood and early ado-
lescence (Bank et al., 2004; Stocker & Youngblade, 1999;
Tippett & Wolke, 2015; Tucker et al., 2015). The relation
between parental child maltreatment and sibling victimization
(Bowes et al., 2014; Button & Gealt, 2010; Straus et al., 1980/
2006) may indicate that sibling effects are confounded by the
effects of other types of family abuse, since sibling victimiza-
tion and parental maltreatment often co-occur. However, there
is also some evidence that siblings from violent families may
show less aggression and physical abuse and are supportive
toward each other (Waddell, Pepler, & Moore, 2001).
Additive effects occur when victimization in one dyad influ-
ences child development over and above the effect of victimi-
zation in other dyads. Several studies establish siblings’
additive influence on child development in the context of par-
ent effects. Sibling aggression has a unique effect on antisocial
behavior, delinquency, peer difficulties, depression, and self-
harming behavior over and above the effect of dysfunctional
parenting and even parental abuse (Bank et al., 2004; Button &
Gealt, 2010; Criss & Shaw, 2005; Garcia et al., 2000; Wolke,
Tippett, & Dantchev, 2015). However, most of these studies
have focused on adolescents (Bank et al., 2004; Button &
Gealt, 2010; Criss & Shaw, 2005; Wolke et al., 2015) and some
only investigated these effects in boys (Bank et al., 2004; Gar-
cia et al., 2000) and used small samples.
Finally, sibling and parent–child victimization may have an
interactive effect; thus, the effect of sibling victimization on
child and adolescent well-being may depend on the effect of
child maltreatment by parents. Since experiencing victimization
in multiplecontexts enhances therisk of poor adjustment (Tucker,
Finkelhor, Turner, et al., 2013; Turner, Shattuck, Finkelhor, &
Hamby, 2015), siblingvictimization may exacerbate the effect of
parental child maltreatment (Kiselica & Morrill-Richards, 2007).
In this case, the combined experience of victimization by a
sibling and a parent would be more devastating than experien-
cing either type of victimization. Further, it may also be that
sibling victimization is only negatively associated with child
development in the context of parental maltreatment. The inter-
action effect between hostile or harsh parenting and sibling
victimization has been shown to amplify the risk of delinquency
and antisocial behavior in childhood and adolescence (Bank
et al., 2004; Garcia et al., 2000; Ingoldsby et al., 2001).
Parental and sibling influences may change when children
grow older. In a meta-analysis, Buist, Dekovı´c, and Prinzie
(2013) showed that the effects of sibling relationship quality
(considering both warmth and amount of conflict) on both
internalizing and externalizing behavior are stronger in child-
hood than in adolescence. This is not surprising given that,
compared to childhood, sibling relationships in adolescence are
less intense and conflictual (Kim, McHale, Osgood, & Crouter,
2006) as extrafamilial relationships become more important
and the influence of family members may decrease (Buist,
Dekovı´c, & Prinzie, 2013; Steinberg & Monahan, 2007). In
terms of sibling victimization, it occurs more often in child-
hood and sibling physical victimization has a stronger effect on
mental health problems during childhood than during the teen-
age years (Tucker, Finkelhor, Turner, et al., 2013; Tucker,
Finkelhor, Turner, & Shattuck, 2014).
In summary, this study investigates co-occurrence, addi-
tive, and interactive associations between sibling victimiza-
tion and child maltreatment by parents (physical abuse and
neglect) in relation to mental health problems and delin-
quency in a nationally representative U.S. sample. In addi-
tion, we examine whether these relations change with age.
Most studies focus only on physical aggression between
siblings or conflictual sibling relations (e.g., Bank et al.,
2004; Criss & Shaw, 2005; Garcia et al., 2000; Wolke
et al., 2015), whereas this study also includes sibling prop-
erty victimization, which includes disrespect of a sibling’s
one of the most common forms of victimization between
siblings (Ross, 1996; Tucker, Finkelhor, Shattuck, &
Turner, 2013). This is one of the first studies to investigate
co-occurrence, additive, and interactive associations of par-
ental child maltreatment and sibling victimization for chil-
dren in the age range from school age to adolescence and to
directly compare these associations in one sample. No stud-
ies have investigated changes in the interrelationship of sib-
ling victimization and parental maltreatment from childhood
to adolescence. Based on our review of the literature, we
expect that (1) sibling victimization is related to physical
abuse and neglect by parents (co-occurrence), (2) sibling
victimization is related to mental health problems and delin-
quency over and above the effect of physical abuse and
neglect by parents (additive), (3) the combination of sibling
victimization and parental child maltreatment exacerbates
the negative relations of the individual victimization types
on mental health problems and delinquency (interactive),
and (4) given the increased importance of peer influences
2Child Maltreatment XX(X)
when children become older and reach adolescence, the
strength of the associations of sibling victimization
decreases with age.
Participants were derived from the National Survey of Chil-
dren’s Exposure to Violence of 2014 (NatSCEV 2014), a
national survey to obtain incidence and prevalence estimates
of a wide range of childhood victimization types in the United
States consisting of 4,000 completed interviews of children and
adolescents aged 0–17 years from August 28, 2013, to April 30,
2014 (for details, see Finkelhor et al., 2015).
This article focuses on 2,053 children aged 5–17 years, who
had at the time of the interview at least one juvenile sibling
living in the same household. The children were on average
10.6 years old (standard deviation [SD]¼3.7). The sample was
evenly divided across gender (53%boy) and having older or
younger siblings (51%at least one older sibling). Most parti-
cipants had an European American ethnicity (78%), followed
by having a Hispanic ethnicity (10%) and an African American
ethnicity (7%). With regard to family composition, the majority
of children were living in a two-parent household (82%) and
had one juvenile sibling living in the same home (61%), and the
other large groups consisted of single-parent households (11%)
and households with three children (25%). Annual household
income ranged from less than US$20,000 to more than
US$100,000, with a median of US$75,000–US$100,000. With
regard to educational level, in the majority of the families, one
of the parents had at least a bachelor’s degree (68%).
Study interviews, averaging 60 min in length, were conducted
over the phone in English or Spanish by the employees of an
experienced survey research firm. This methodology has been
demonstrated to be comparable to in-person interviews in data
quality; some evidence even suggests that telephone interviews
are perceived by respondents as more anonymous, less intimi-
dating, and more private than in-person modes and, as a result,
may encourage greater disclosure of victimization events
(Bajos, Spira, Ducot, & Messiah, 1992; Pruchno & Hayden,
2000). One child was randomly selected from all eligible chil-
dren living in a household by selecting the child with the most
recent birthday. If the selected child was 10–17 years old, the
main telephone interview was conducted with the child. If the
selected child was under age 10, the interview was conducted
with the primary caregiver. Respondents were promised com-
plete confidentiality and were paid $20 for their participation.
Respondents who disclosed a situation of serious threat or
ongoing victimization were recontacted by a clinical member
of the research team who remained in contact with the respon-
dent until the situation was appropriately addressed locally. All
procedures were authorized by the Institutional Review Board
of the University of New Hampshire.
Sibling victimization and child maltreatment. Sibling victimization
and child maltreatment by parents were measured using the
Juvenile Victimization Questionnaire (JVQ; Finkelhor,
Hamby, Ormrod, & Turner, 2005; Finkelhor, Ormrod, Turner,
& Hamby, 2005). This form of the JVQ obtained reports on 53
forms of offenses against youth that cover six general areas:
conventional crime, child maltreatment, peer and sibling victi-
mization, sexual assault, witnessing and indirect victimization,
and Internet victimization. Follow-up questions for each
screener item gathered additional information, including per-
petrator characteristics, the use of a weapon, whether injury
resulted, and whether the event occurred in conjunction with
another screener event.
For this study, a measure of sibling victimization—consist-
ing of physical and property victimization (Tucker, Finkelhor,
Shattuck, et al., 2013)—and two measures of child maltreat-
ment by a parent—physical abuse and neglect (Finkelhor, Orm-
rod et al., 2015)—were constructed. Property victimization
assessed whether a child had experienced situations in which
others disrespected the child’s property (e.g., “did anyone steal
something from [your child/you] and never give it back?”/“did
anyone break or ruin any of [your child’s/your] things on
purpose?”). Physical sibling victimization and physical abuse
by a parent were assessed with the same items about experi-
ences of physical assaults (e.g., “did anyone hit or attack [your
child/you] on purpose with an object or weapon”/“did anyone
hit or attack [your child/you] on purpose without using an
object or weapon”) and follow-up questions regarding the iden-
tity of the perpetrator determined whether it was considered
victimization by a sibling or a parent. Finally, neglect by a
parent was assessed using items concerning a lack of physical
care (e.g., did parents not care whether [your child was/you
were] clean, wore clean clothes, or brushed teeth and hair?)
and a lack of emotional care (e.g., did parents often had peo-
ple over at the house who [your child was/you were] afraid to
be around?). Sibling victimization covered assaults perpe-
trated by a juvenile sibling living in the same household and
child maltreatment covered experiences with biological,
adoptive, foster, and stepparents. Both sibling victimization
and child maltreatment included only experiences in the
past year.
Mental health problems. Trauma symptom scores for the anger,
depression, and anxiety scales of two closely related measures
were used to measure mental health problems: the Trauma
Symptom Checklist for Young Children (TSCYC; Briere
et al., 2001), which was used in the caregiver interviews for
children from 5 to 9 years old, and the Trauma Symptoms
Checklist for Children (TSCC; Briere, 1996), which was used
in self-report interviews for children from 10 to 17 years old.
Caregivers indicated how often their children showed each
of the 15 symptoms of the three subscales of the TSCYC in the
past month, and youths (10–17 year olds) indicated how often
they had experienced each of the 18 symptoms of the same
van Berkel et al. 3
subscales of the TSCC in the past month, on a 4-point scale (0
¼not at all to 4 ¼very often). Internal consistency (Cron-
bach’s a) of the composite of these three subscales was .81 for
the TSCYC and .90 for the TSCC.
Delinquency. Delinquency was measured as the sum of “yes”
responses to 19 questions about possible delinquent behaviors
during the past 12 months. These items included such beha-
viors as breaking or damaging other people’s property, fight-
ing, stealing, cheating, skipping school, carrying a weapon, and
using drugs or alcohol (Finkelhor, Ormrod, & Turner, 2007).
Statistical Analyses
Co-occurrence of sibling victimization and child maltreatment
was assessed with bivariate Pearson’s correlation analyses and
a multiple regression analysis. To investigate additive and
interactive associations of sibling victimization and child mal-
treatment with mental health problems and delinquency, two
hierarchical multiple regression analyses were conducted. In
the first step, covariates (child gender, child age, ethnicity,
presence of older siblings, number of children in the household,
family structure, and socioeconomic status [SES]) were
entered, and in the second step, main effects of the two child
maltreatment measures (physical abuse and neglect) and sib-
ling victimization were tested. The third step contained the
interaction between child age and sibling victimization (to
investigate age effects on the impact of sibling abuse) and the
two interactions between child maltreatment and sibling victi-
mization. Finally, in the fourth step, age effects on the relations
between victimization and mental health and delinquency were
computed using 2 three-way interactions, one between age,
sibling victimization, and physical abuse and the other between
age, sibling victimization, and neglect. Analyses with and with-
out covariates showed similar results.
Preliminary Analyses
Pearson’s correlations between demographic measures, child
maltreatment, sibling victimization, mental health problems, and
delinquency are presented in Table 1. Correlations between the
covariates show that all risk factors for child victimization were
related to each other. For example, low SES was related to all
other covariates, with being of a younger age, with being a girl,
with self-indicating to have a non-White ethnicity, with having
older siblings, with living in a family with more juvenile children,
and with living in a single-parent family. Furthermore, children
who identified themselves as belonging to another ethnic group
than “White” lived more often in a single-parent family in the
presence of an older sibling. Parental physical abuse and neglect
were related, indicating comorbidity of different victimization
types by the same perpetrator. Furthermore, physical abuse and
neglect by a parent and victimization by a sibling were related to
more mental health problems and more delinquency.
Co-Occurrence of Sibling Victimization and
Child Maltreatment
Pearson’s correlations showed that sibling victimization was
positively related to parents’ physical abuse and neglect (see
Table 1). A multiple regression analyses showed that when we
controlled for the presence of the other form of child maltreat-
ment by parents, only neglect was associated with sibling vic-
timization, b¼.25, p< .001, whereas for physical abuse, this
relation was no longer significant, b¼.04, p¼.069.
Additive Effects and Interactive Effects of Sibling
Hierarchical multiple regression analyses, controlling for child
age, child gender, ethnicity, presence of older siblings, number
Table 1. Descriptives and Correlations for Child and Adolescent Sibling Victimization, Child Maltreatment, Mental Health Problems, and
Variable 1234567891011M(SD)%
1. Age 10.61 (3.73)
2. Gender
.01 — 52.5
3. Ethnicity
.01 .04 78.8
4. Presence older sibling(s)
.36** .01 .05* — 50.6
5. Number of children in family .06* .05* .03 .20** 2.58 (0.90)
6. Single-parent household
.02 .03 .19** .00 .03 — 11.1
7. Socioeconomic status .05* .04* .32** .05* .10** .31** 0.09 (0.88)
8. Physical abuse .05* .06** .02 .04 .01 .01 .03 — 4.1
9. Neglect .11** .03 .03 .05* .01 .00 .03 .19** 4.9
10. Sibling victimization .25** .02 .06* .12** .09** .03 .09** .04* .07* 39.1
11. Mental health problems .39** .05* .01 .16** .06** .04* .04 .22** .25** .07** 25.03 (6.71)
12. Delinquency .13** .11** .00 .11** .00 .05* .01 .15** .14** .10** .31** 0.80 (1.54)
Note. SD ¼standard deviation.
Percentage of Category 1 is presented.
0¼Other ethnicities,1¼White.
0¼no older siblings,1¼at least one older sibling.
household,1¼single-parent household.
*p< .05. **p< .01.
4Child Maltreatment XX(X)
of children in the family, single-parent household, and SES (see
Table 2, Step 1), showed that sibling victimization was related
to more mental health problems and more delinquency after
controlling for the effect of child maltreatment (see Table 2,
Step 2). In Step 3 of the hierarchical regression analyses, the
interaction effects between sibling victimization and neglect
and physical abuse were entered, neither of these interactions
were significant.
Age Differences in Co-Occurrence, Additive Effects, and
Interactive Associations
Age differences in co-occurrence of sibling victimization and
child maltreatment were examined in multiple regression anal-
yses testing the association of sibling victimization with two
interactions: one between physical abuse and child age, b¼
.00, p¼.873, and one between neglect and child age, b¼.00,
p¼.964. These results indicate that there were no age differ-
ences in co-occurrence of these victimization types.
To investigate age differences in the additive relations of
child maltreatment and sibling victimization, an interaction
between sibling victimization and age was entered in Step 3
of the hierarchical regression analyses on mental health and
delinquency (Table 2). A simple slope analysis (Aiken & West,
1991) of the significant interaction between sibling victimiza-
tion and child age on delinquency showed only for younger
children (i.e., one SD below the mean) a positive relation
between sibling victimization and delinquency, b¼.25, p<
.001, while for the older children (i.e., one SD above the mean),
no relation was found, b¼.03, p¼.417. Finally, the three-
way interactions in Step 4 of the hierarchical regression anal-
yses (Table 2) indicated that the interactions between sibling
victimization and child maltreatment on delinquency differed
with age. To investigate these result, post hoc Bonferroni tests
were conducted using a median split for age resulting in a
group of children (5–9 years old) and one of youths (10–17
year olds). The post hoc analyses indicated that children who
experienced parental physical abuse (with or without being
victimized by their sibling) showed the highest levels of delin-
quency, followed by children who experienced only sibling
victimization. Children who experienced neither form of victi-
mization had the lowest levels of delinquency (see Figure 1).
For youths, experience of both parental physical abuse and
sibling victimization was related to higher levels of delin-
quency compared to those who experienced only one form or
no victimization (see Figure 1). Children’s experiences of sib-
ling victimization were thus related to more delinquency, and
this relation was amplified when they also experienced parental
physical abuse. However, the relation between physical abuse
and delinquency was not influenced by sibling victimization.
For youths, sibling victimization was only related to more
delinquency when they also experienced physical abuse by a
parent. When youths experience only one form of victimiza-
tion, there was no relation between experiencing sibling victi-
mization and delinquency. With respect to neglect,
victimization by both a parent and a sibling was related to the
highest levels of children’s delinquency, followed by children
who experienced only sibling victimization (Figure 2).
Table 2. Associations of Child and Adolescent Sibling Victimization, Child Maltreatment, With Mental Health Problems, and Delinquency.
Independent variables
Mental Health Problems Delinquency
Step 1—Covariates .21 .06
Child age .45 .000 .18 .000
.05 .001 .11 .000
.03 .065 .02 .295
Presence of older sibling(s)
.00 .965 .04 .052
Number of children in the family .02 .344 .03 .188
Single-parent household
.03 .100 .07 .000
Socioeconomic status .05 .001 .01 .566
Step 2—Additive effects .25 .08
Physical abuse .17 .000 .12 .000
Neglect .16 .000 .09 .000
Sibling victimization .17 .000 .13 .000
Step 3—Interaction effects .25 .10
Sibling Victimization Child Age .00 .982 .13 .000
Sibling Victimization Physical Abuse .01 .726 .03 .233
Sibling Victimization Neglect .03 .204 .04 .098
Step 4—Interaction effects by age .26 .11
Sibling Victimization Physical Abuse Child Age .02 .357 .06 .014
Sibling Victimization Neglect Child Age .00 .953 .07 .008
Note. bs are derived from each step in the regression analyses; main effects and (both two-way and three-way) interaction effects remain the same in a model
without covariates.
0¼Other ethnicities,1¼White.
0¼no older siblings,1¼at least one older sibling.
0¼two-parent household,1¼single-parent household.
van Berkel et al. 5
Children who experienced only parental neglect had similar
levels of delinquency to those who did not experience any form
of victimization. For youths, similarly to the younger children,
experiencing both parental neglect and sibling victimization
was related to the highest levels of delinquency. However, for
youths, this was followed by the experience of neglect only,
while levels of delinquency were similar for youths who expe-
rienced only sibling victimization and who did not experience
any form of victimization (Figure 2). None of the interactions
related to mental health were significant.
This study using a nationally representative U.S. sample pro-
vides evidence for combined effects of sibling victimization
and child maltreatment by parents on child behaviors from
school age to adolescence. These findings support the family
system perspective that interactions between family members
can only be truly understood within the family context. The
results suggest that there are additive effects of these victimi-
zation types; however, the results concerning co-occurrence
and interaction effects are less clear and should be interpreted
cautiously. Bivariate analyses revealed co-occurrence of both
parental physical abuse and neglect with sibling victimization.
When controlling for the occurrence of the other from of par-
ental child maltreatment, only the co-occurrence of neglect and
sibling victimization subsisted. Additive effects of sibling vic-
timization on parental child maltreatment were suggested for
the association of sibling victimization, after controlling for
child abuse and neglect by a parent, with both mental health
problems and delinquency. The additive relation with delin-
quency was moderated by age, showing, only for children not
for youths, an additive relation between sibling victimization
and delinquency. Evidence for interactive effects was succinct;
interactions between sibling victimization and child maltreat-
ment were only found for delinquency, had small effect sizes,
and depended on the type of child maltreatment and child age.
For children, the relation between delinquency and sibling vic-
timization was stronger when they also experienced child mal-
treatment by a parent (physical abuse or neglect) than in the
absence of parental child maltreatment. For youths, exposure to
both sibling victimization and parental child maltreatment was
related to higher levels of delinquency, while in the absence of
child maltreatment, no relation between sibling victimization
and delinquency was found.
Co-Occurrence of Sibling Victimization and Child
Significant associations between parental child maltreatment
and sibling victimization indicate co-occurrence of these forms
of victimization. When controlling for co-occurrence of phys-
ical abuse and neglect, only the association between neglect
and sibling victimization remained significant. This might indi-
cate the existence of cross-system contagion effects. The rela-
tion between physical abuse by parents and more sibling
victimization may be the result of observational learning (Pat-
terson et al., 1992). The experience of being exposed to phys-
ical abuse by a parent may be reflected in sibling interactions,
while parental neglect may teach a child that their sibling is not
important enough to take care of or to respect. However, the
association between physical abuse and sibling victimization
appeared only in the bivariate analysis and only the co-
occurrence between sibling victimization and neglect while
controlling for physical abuse had a considerable effect size.
Furthermore, given the cross-sectional nature of our data, we
are unable to address causal effects. It could be that violence
between siblings results in more parenting stress, which is
related to more harsh and dysfunctional parenting (e.g., Beck-
erman, van Berkel, Mesman, & Alink, 2017). Future research
should continue to examine the relationships among child mal-
treatment and sibling victimization to assess whether intrafa-
milial contagion effects exist between sibling and parent–child
Figure 1. Interaction of sibling victimization and physical abuse by
child age on delinquency.
Figure 2. Interaction of sibling victimization and neglect by child age
on delinquency.
6Child Maltreatment XX(X)
violence. Our findings suggest that interrelation between sib-
ling victimization and parental child maltreatment may be
complex and that sibling victimization may be independent
from the occurrence of other within-family victimization types.
Furthermore, given the multivariable results, it might be that
comorbidity among child maltreatment types by parents forms
a risk factor for sibling victimization.
Additive and Interactive Associations of Sibling
One of our major findings is the additive effect of sibling
victimization beyond the effect of parental child maltreatment.
Sibling interactions have been repeatedly shown to uniquely
influence child development both for the better and the worse
(e.g., Cassidy, Fineberg, Brown, & Perkins, 2005). The inten-
sity and “peer-like” qualities of siblings’ interactions (Tucker
& Updegraff, 2009; Youngblade & Dunn, 1995) in combina-
tion with extensive daily contact (Whiteman, Becarra, & Killo-
ren, 2009) provide opportunities for numerous unique
experiences. Such experiences may explain the effects of sib-
ling victimization on mental health problems and delinquency
beyond the effects of parental child maltreatment. Our findings
highlight the unique detrimental associations between sibling
victimization and development and extend the results of previ-
ous studies by investigating these effects in children (Button &
Gealt, 2010; Garcia et al., 2000; Wolke et al., 2015). Our anal-
yses suggest that interactive effects for delinquency may
depend on child age and may effect development of children
and youths differently. In contrast to findings of previous stud-
ies concerning the combined effect of harsh parenting and
sibling victimization, none of the interactions on mental health
were significant (Garcia et al., 2000; Ingoldsby et al., 2001;
Turner et al., 2015).
Age Differences in Combined Associations
Age difference was only found for an additive relation (for
delinquency only) and the interactive associations. Although
the JVQ has been shown to be unaffected by reporter bias
when comparing parent and youths’ self-reports (Finkelhor,
Hamby, et al., 2005), differences evident in this study may
partially originate from the different measurement methods
used for children and youths, However, differences might also
arise from developmental changes and changes in how sibling
and family interactions influence the development of children
and youths.
The additive relation between sibling victimization and
delinquency appeared only for children, not for youths. These
results are in line with previous research that also found a
stronger effect of sibling victimization on the development of
children compared to youths (Tucker, Finkelhor, Turner, et al.,
2013, 2014). During the teenage years, sibling relationships
become less intense and conflictual (Kim et al., 2006), which
is also reflected by the difference in prevalence of sibling vic-
timization of children (51%) versus youths (29%) in our
sample, and time spent with parents decreases as youths, espe-
cially during adolescence, have greater involvement with peers
outside the family (Buist et al., 2013; Steinberg & Monahan,
2007). This may also explain the difference in the interactive
relations of parental child maltreatment and sibling victimiza-
tion on delinquency for children versus youths.
For children, the relation between more sibling victimiza-
tion and more delinquent behavior was amplified by parental
child maltreatment, while for youths, sibling victimization was
only in combination with parental child maltreatment related to
more delinquency. Moreover, experiencing physical abuse,
irrespective of experiencing sibling victimization, was related
to the highest levels of delinquency for children, while for
youths, parental neglect, irrespective of experiencing sibling
victimization, was related to the highest levels of delinquency.
The combined effect of sibling victimization and parental child
maltreatment may be related to the harmful effects these two
victimization types have on children’s self-image and self-
esteem (Duncan, 1999; Tyler, Allison, & Winsler, 2006). Low
self-esteem may make these children more vulnerable to peer
pressure and more motivated to show deviant behavior, which
increases the probability on showing risk-taking behaviors and
delinquency (Parker & Benson, 2004; Wild, Flisher, Bhana, &
Lombard, 2004). The violation of self-esteem in several dyads
within the family may explain the combined effect of child
maltreatment and sibling victimization. This underlines the
importance of investigating the influence of specific types of
victimization rather than global effects of multiple types of
victimization, although the results of this study do not provide
evidence for explaining these different processes.
Given that sibling relations are less intense during teenage
years (Kim et al., 2006), the relation between sibling victimi-
zation and delinquency might also be weaker, especially since
delinquent behavior is probably more likely to take place out-
side the family with peers. The age difference in the relation of
parental physical abuse and neglect with delinquency could be
explained by different processes in which physical abuse and
neglect may influence delinquent behavior. Physical abuse is
possibly related to more delinquent behavior through observa-
tional learning (Patterson et al., 1992), while the association
with parental neglect could be explained by a lack of parental
supervision of child behaviors outside the home, which is asso-
ciated with delinquency (Parker & Benson, 2004). So in chil-
dren who spent more time with their parents, observational
learning may be a more important mechanism than a lack of
supervision of their whereabouts outside the home. Contrary,
for youths who spent more time outside the home (Buist et al.,
2013), supervision of their interactions and behaviors outside
the family context may have a greater influence on the devel-
opment of delinquency than observational learning from their
parents’ behaviors. This is in line with previous studies sug-
gesting that parental neglect may have a stronger relation with
delinquency in adolescents than parental harsh control (Stein-
berg, Blatt-Eisengart, & Cauffman, 2006). Finally, the result
that experiencing parental neglect without sibling victimization
was related to higher levels of delinquency in youths than
van Berkel et al. 7
experiencing both parental neglect and sibling victimization
was counterintuitive. However, if the effect of parental neglect
can be explained by a lack of parental supervision of youths
outside the home, the effect of neglect might be especially
strong for those youths who spent most of their time outside
the home with peers, which automatically leads to less contact
with siblings and thus less opportunities for sibling victimiza-
tion. Yet, given the small effect sizes of these interactions,
results should be interpreted with caution.
Given that our strongest evidence was in support of additive
effects of sibling victimization, child protection services should
pay more attention to this type of victimization when interven-
ing in families where there is a presumption of child maltreat-
ment, for example, by observing interactions between all
family members instead of focusing on the perpetrating parent
and the victimized child only. The question how sibling victi-
mization develops remains unanswered; further research may
look into specific risk factors for this type of within-family
violence. Finally, sibling victimization seems to have a greater
impact on delinquency in childhood than in adolescents, so this
asks for early interventions aiming at improving sibling rela-
tions and decreasing violence between siblings.
This study has some limitations. First, although we controlled
for the influence of the number of children in the family and the
presence of older siblings, we were not able to explore the
importance of sibling structural characteristics like birth order
and gender composition. For example, given the literature on
differences between boys’ and girls’ sibling relations (Kim
et al., 2006; Slomkowski, Rende, Conger, Simons, & Conger,
2001), it would be interesting for further research to investigate
differences in the relation between parental maltreatment and
sibling victimization, on one hand, and delinquency and mental
health problems, on the other. Second, only parent report (for
children) and self-report measures (for youths) were used,
which may have resulted in exaggerated covariation among
variables. Using multiple informants would provide a more
balanced assessment and would enhance the validity of the
results. Third, the data cover only experiences of the past year.
Although this may provide more reliable and valid data, since
accuracy of retrospective recall may be more affected when
individuals are asked to provide information about events that
happened a longer time ago (Widom, Raphael, & DuMont,
2004), lifetime maltreatment could especially for adolescents
be more influential than maltreatment in the past year. Finally,
the cross-sectional nature of our data makes it impossible to
draw conclusions concerning causality. It could be that chil-
dren and adolescents with more mental health problems and
higher levels of delinquency show more difficulties at home
and as a result are at risk of experiencing child maltreatment
and sibling victimization. Longitudinal studies could address
this problem by following the development of children who
report parental and sibling victimization over a period of sev-
eral years.
This study with a nationally representative U.S. sample is the
first to examine co-occurrence, additive effects, and interactive
effects between sibling victimization and parental child mal-
treatment in children from school age to adolescence. Our
results emphasize the detrimental effects of sibling victimiza-
tion on child development uniquely and in combination with
child maltreatment. Children who are being victimized in two
important relational contexts within the home show more
developmental problems than children who experience such
victimization in the context of one relationship. In addition,
the high prevalence of sibling victimization suggests that a
substantial part of the children who experience parental child
maltreatment will also experience victimization by their broth-
ers or sisters. This stresses the importance for both child pro-
tection services and child psychologists to give more attention
to investigating sibling victimization. Currently, there is a large
body of literature on peer bullying and peer victimization (e.g.,
Hawker & Boulton, 2000; Lereya, Copeland, Costello, &
Wolke, 2015), while similar interactions between siblings are
perceived as benign and remain understudied. Given the large
effect sizes of sibling victimization and its unique effect on
delinquency and mental health beyond the effect of child mal-
treatment, sibling victimization should be investigated more
regularly in studies concerning child and adolescent
Declaration of Conflicting Interests
The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to
the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for
the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: For the
purposes of compliance with §507 of Pub. L. No. 104-208 (the Stevens
Amendment), readers are advised that 100%of the funds for this
program are derived from federal sources. This project was supported
by grants 2006-JW-BX-0003 and 2009-JW-BX-0018 from the Office
of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Office of Justice
Programs, and U.S. Department of Justice. Sheila R. van Berkel was
supported by a grant from the Van der Gaag Foundation of the Royal
Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Aiken, L. S., & West, S. G. (1991). Multiple regression: Testing and
interpreting interactions. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Bajos, N., Spira, A., Ducot, B., & Messiah, A. (1992). Analysis of
sexual behavior in France (ACSF): A comparison between two
modes of investigation: Telephone survey and face-to-face survey.
Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome,6, 315–323.
Bank, L., Burraston, B., & Snyder, J. (2004). Sibling conflict and
ineffective parenting as predictors of adolescent boys’ antisocial
8Child Maltreatment XX(X)
behavior and peer difficulties: Additive and interactional effects.
Journal of Research on Adolescence,14, 99–125. doi:10.1111/j.
Beckerman, M., van Berkel, S. R., Mesman, J., & Alink, L. R. (2017).
The role of negative parental attributions in the associations
between daily stressors, maltreatment history, and harsh and abu-
sive discipline. Child abuse & neglect,64, 109–116. doi:10.1016/j.
Bowes, L., Wolke, D., Joinson, C., Lereya, S. T., & Lewis, G. (2014).
Sibling bullying and risk of depression, anxiety, and self-harm: A
prospective cohort study. Pediatrics,134, e1032–e1039. doi:10.
Briere, J. (1996). Trauma Symptoms Checklist for Children (TSCC):
Professional manual. Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment
Briere, J., Johnson, K., Bissada, A., Damon, L., Crouch, J., Gil, E., ...
Ernst, V. (2001). The Trauma Symptom Checklist for Young
Children (TSCYC): Reliability and association with abuse exposure
in a multi-site study. Child Abuse & Neglect,25, 1001–1014. doi:10.
Buist, K. L., Dekovic´, M., & Prinzie, P. (2013). Sibling relationship
quality and psychopathology of children and adolescents: A meta-
analysis. Clinical Psychology Review,33, 97–106. doi:10.1016/j.
Button, D. M., & Gealt, R. (2010). High risk behaviors among victims
of sibling violence. Journal of Family Violence,25, 131–140. doi:
Caspi, J. (2012). Sibling aggression: Assessment and treatment. New
York, NY: Springer.
Cassidy, K. W., Fineberg, D. S., Brown, K., & Perkins, A. (2005).
Theory of mind may be contagious, but you don’t catch it from
your twin. Child Development,76, 97–106. doi:10.1111/j.1467-
Cox, M. J., & Paley, B. (1997). Families as systems. Annual
Review of Psychology,48, 243–267. doi:10.1146/annurev.
Criss, M. M., & Shaw, D. S. (2005). Sibling relationships as contexts
for delinquency training in low-income families. Journal of Family
Psychology,19, 592–600. doi:10.1037/0893-3200.19.4.592
Duncan, R. D. (1999). Peer and sibling aggression: An investigation of
intra-and extra-familial bullying. Journal of Interpersonal Vio-
lence,14, 871–886. doi:10.1177/088626099014008005
Finkelhor, D., Hamby, S. L., Ormrod, R., & Turner, H. (2005). The
Juvenile Victimization Questionnaire: Reliability, validity, and
national norms. Child Abuse & Neglect,29, 383–412. doi:10.
Finkelhor, D., Ormrod, R. K., & Turner, H. A. (2007). Re-victimiza-
tion patterns in a national longitudinal sample of children and
youth. Child abuse & neglect,31, 479–502. doi:10.1016/j.
Finkelhor, D., Ormrod, R. K., Turner, H. A., & Hamby, S. L. (2005).
The victimization of children and youth: A comprehensive,
national survey. Child Maltreatment,10, 5–25. doi:10.1177/
Finkelhor, D., Turner, H. A., Shattuck, A., & Hamby, S. L. (2015).
Prevalence of childhood exposure to violence, crime and abuse:
Results from the national survey children’s exposure to violence.
JAMA Pediatrics,169, 746–754. doi:10/1001/jamapediatrics.
Garcia, M. M., Shaw, D. S., Winslow, E. B., & Yaggi, K. E. (2000).
Destructive sibling conflict and the development of conduct prob-
lems in young boys. Developmental Psychology,36, 44–53. doi:
Graham-Bermann, S., Cutler, S., Litzenberger, B., & Schwartz, W.
(1994). Perceived conflict and violence in childhood sibling rela-
tionships and later emotional adjustment. Journal of Family Psy-
chology,8, 85–97. doi:10.1037/0893-3200.8.1.85
Hawker, D. S., & Boulton, M. J. (2000). Twenty years’ research on
peer victimization and psychosocial maladjustment: A meta-ana-
lytic review of cross-sectional studies. Journal of Child Psychol-
ogy and Psychiatry,41, 441–455. doi:10.1111/1469-7610.00629
Ingoldsby, E. M., Shaw, D. S., & Garcia, M. M. (2001). Intrafamily
conflict in relation to boys’ adjustment at school. Development and
Psychopathology,13, 35–52. doi:10.1017/S0954579401001031
Kim, J., McHale, S. M., Osgood, D. W., & Crouter, A. C. (2006).
Longitudinal course and family correlates of sibling relationships
from childhood through adolescence. Child Development,77,
1746–1761. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8624.2006.00971.x
Kiselica, M. S., & Morrill-Richards, M. (2007). Sibling maltreatment:
The forgotten abuse. Journal of Counseling & Development,85(2),
148–161. doi:10.1002/j.1556-6678.2007.tb00457.x
Lereya, S. T., Copeland, W. E., Costello, E. J., & Wolke, D. (2015).
Adult mental health consequences of peer bullying and maltreat-
ment in childhood: Two cohorts in two countries. The Lancet Psy-
chiatry,2, 524–531. doi:10.1016/S2215-0366(15)00165-0
Linares, L. O. (2006). An understudied form of intra-family violence:
Sibling-to-sibling aggression among foster children. Aggression
and Violent Behavior,11, 95–109. doi:10.1016/j.avb.2005.07.001
Natsuaki, M. N., Ge, X., Reiss, D., & Neiderhiser, J. M. (2009).
Aggressive behavior between siblings and the development of
externalizing problems: Evidence from a genetically sensitive
study. Developmental Psychology,45, 1009–1018. doi:10.1037/
Parker, J. S., & Benson, M. J. (2004). Parent-adolescent relations and
adolescent functioning: Self-esteem, substance abuse, and delin-
quency. Adolescence,39, 519–530.
Patterson, G. R., Reid, J. B., & Dishion, T. J. (1992). A social inter-
actional approach: Vol. 4. Antisocial boys. Eugene, OR: Catalia
Pruchno, R. A., & Hayden, J. M. (2000). Interview modality: Effects
on costs and data quality in a sample of older women. Journal of
Aging Health,12, 3–24. doi:10.1177/0898264300012001
Ross, H. S. (1996). Negotiating principles of entitlement in sibling
property disputes. Developmental Psychology,32, 90–101. doi:10.
Slomkowski, C., Rende, R., Conger, K. J., Simons, R. L., & Conger,
R. D. (2001). Sisters, brothers, and delinquency: Evaluating social
influence during early and middle adolescence. Child Develop-
ment,72, 271–283. doi:10.1111/1467-8624.00278
Steinberg, L., Blatt-Eisengart, I., & Cauffman, E. (2006). Patterns of
competence and adjustment among adolescents from authoritative,
authoritarian, indulgent, and neglectful homes: A replication in a
van Berkel et al. 9
sample of serious juvenile offenders. Journal of Research on Ado-
lescence,16, 47–58. doi:10.1111/j.1532-7795.2006.00119.x
Steinberg, L., & Monahan, K. C. (2007). Age differences in resistance
to peer influence. Developmental Psychology,43, 1531–1543. doi:
Stocker, C. M., & Youngblade, L. (1999). Marital conflict and par-
ental hostility: Links with children’s sibling and peer relationships.
Journal of Family Psychology,13, 598–609. doi:10.1037/0893-
Straus, M. A., Gelles, R. J., & Steinmetz, S. K. (2006). Behind closed
doors: Violence in the American family. New Brunswick, NJ:
Transaction Publishing (Original work published 1980).
Tippett, N., & Wolke, D. (2015). Aggression between siblings: Asso-
ciations with the home environment and peer bullying. Aggressive
Behavior,41, 14–24. doi:10.1002/ab.21557
Tucker, C. J., Finkelhor, D., Shattuck, A., & Turner, H. (2013). Pre-
valence and correlates of sibling victimization types. Child Abuse
& Neglect,37, 213–223. doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.2013.01.006
Tucker, C. J., Finkelhor, D., Turner, H., & Shattuck, A. (2013). Asso-
ciation of sibling aggression with child and adolescent mental
health. Pediatrics,132, 79–84. doi:10.1542/peds.2012-3801
Tucker, C. J., Finkelhor, D., Turner, H., & Shattuck, A. (2014). Sibling
and peer victimization in childhood and adolescence. Child Abuse
& Neglect,38, 1599–1606. doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.2014.05.007
Tucker, C. J., Finkelhor, D., Turner, H., & Shattuck, A. (2015). Family
dynamics and young children’s sibling victimization. Journal of
Family Psychology,28, 625–633. doi:0.1037/fam0000016
Tucker, C. J., & Updegraff, K. U. (2009). The relative contributions of
parents and siblings to child and adolescent development. In L.
Kramer & K. Conger (Eds.), Siblings as agents of socialization:
New directions for child and adolescent development (Vol. 126, pp.
13–28). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. doi:10.1002/cd.254
Turner, H. A., Shattuck, A., Finkelhor, D., & Hamby, S. (2015).
Effects of poly-victimization on adolescent social support, self-
concept, and psychological distress. Journal of Interpersonal Vio-
lence, 1–26. doi:10.1177/0886260515586376
Tyler, S., Allison, K., & Winsler, A. (2006). Child neglect: Devel-
opmental consequences, intervention, and policy implications.
Child and Youth Care Forum,35, 1–20. doi:10.1007/s10566-
Waddell, J., Pepler, D., & Moore, T. (2001). Observations of sibling
interactions in violent families. Journal of Community Psychology,
29, 241–258. doi:10.1002/jcop.1016
Whiteman, S. D., Becerra, J. M., & Killoren, S. E. (2009). Mechan-
isms of sibling socialization in normative family development.
New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development,126,
29–43. doi:10.1002/cd.255
Widom, C. S., Raphael, K. G., & DuMont, K. A. (2004). The case for
prospective longitudinal studies in child maltreatment research:
Commentary on Dube, Williamson, Thompson, Felitti, and Anda
(2004). Child Abuse & Neglect,28, 715–722. doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.
Wild, L. G., Flisher, A. J., Bhana, A., & Lombard, C. (2004). Associa-
tions among adolescent risk behaviours and self-esteem in six
domains. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry,45,
1454–1467. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7610.2004.00330.x
Wolke, D., Tippett, N., & Dantchev, S. (2015). Bullying in the family:
Sibling bullying. The Lancet Psychiatry,2, 917–929. doi:10.1016/
Youngblade, L. M., & Dunn, J. (1995). Individual differences in
young children’s pretend play with mother and sibling: Links to
relationships and understanding of other people’s feelings and
beliefs. Child Development,66, 1472–1492. doi:10.1111/j.1467-
10 Child Maltreatment XX(X)
... Multiple papers however highlighted a significant difference in the perception and understanding of this form of abuse. Despite its prevalence and documented detrimental impact, sibling violence and abuse is often dismissed as normal or expected (Button & Gealt, 2010;Desir & Karatekin, 2018;Kim & Kim, 2019;Phillips et al., 2018;Sporer, 2019;Tippett & Wolke, 2015;van Berkel et al., 2018). Parents in particular have been highlighted as holding these views, being found to often minimize the frequency, severity, and impact (Tucker et al., 2013). ...
... Parents in particular have been highlighted as holding these views, being found to often minimize the frequency, severity, and impact (Tucker et al., 2013). Aggression between siblings can often be seen as normative and harmless by parents (Miller et al., 2012;van Berkel et al., 2018) with some having difficulty in determining what behaviors are acceptable (McDonald & Martinez, 2019). Tompsett et al. (2018) further find that children themselves can also minimize abuse and violence from a sibling. ...
Full-text available
Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are traumatic events during childhood known to affect health and well-being across the life span. The detrimental impact ACEs have on children and young people is well-established. It is also known that 85 to 90% of children have at least one sibling. Using this as the foundation for our inquiry, the purpose of this scoping review was to understand what we currently know about the experiences of siblings living with ACEs. Sibling relationships are unique, and for some the most enduring of experiences. These relationships can be thought of as bonds held together by love and warmth; however, they can also provide scope for undesirable outcomes, such as escalation of conflicts and animosities. This scoping review was conducted following Arksey and O’Malley’s (2005) methodological framework, complemented by the PAGER framework (Bradbury-Jones et al. 2021), offering a structured approach to the review’s analysis and reporting through presenting the Patterns, Advances, Gaps, and Evidence for practice and Research. In June 2020, we searched 12 databases, with 11,469 results. Articles were screened for eligibility by the review team leaving a total of 148 articles meeting the inclusion criteria. Included articles highlighted overwhelming evidence of older siblings shielding younger siblings, and the likelihood that when one sibling experiences adversity, other siblings will be experiencing it themselves or vicariously. The implications of this in practice are that support services and statutory bodies need to ensure considerations are given to all siblings when one has presented with experiencing childhood adversity, especially to older siblings who may take far more burden as regards care-giving and protection of younger siblings. Given that more than half of the included articles did not offer any theoretical understanding to sibling experiences of ACEs, this area is of importance for future research. Greater attention is also needed for research exploring different types of sibling relationships (full, step, half), and whether these influence the impact that ACEs have on children and young people.
... The greater the number of negative life events experienced in childhood and early adolescence, the greater the vulnerability to depression and PTSD (Phillips et al., 2015;Young and Dietrich, 2015;Pinto et al., 2017;Van Den Berg et al., 2017). Further, children who are maltreated early in life are at a greater risk of poor psychological functions later in their lives (Poole et al., 2017;Frampton et al., 2018;Jones et al., 2018;Van Berkel et al., 2018). ...
Full-text available
Objectives Little is known about the effects and the extent that childhood adversity has on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression. Study design A population-based, epidemiological study from the Wenchuan earthquake. Methods A total of 5,195 Wenchuan Earthquake adolescent survivors aged 11–18 years from nine high schools in southwest China completed questionnaires that assessed their PTSD and depression symptoms due to childhood maltreatment, stressful life events, and childhood earthquake exposure. Results The PTSD and depression prevalences were 7.1 and 32.4%. After controlling for age and gender, the multiple linear regressions revealed that stressful life events had the most significant direct effect on depression (β = 0.491), followed by childhood emotional abuse (β = 0.085), and earthquake exposure (β = 0.077). Similarly, stressful life events (β = 0.583) were found to have more significant direct effects on PSTD, followed by earthquake exposure (β = 0.140); however, childhood emotional abuse was not found to have an effect. The structural equation modeling (SEM) revealed that there were interactions between the three childhood adversities, with all three concurrently affecting both PTSD and depression. Conclusion These findings add weight to the supposition that psychological maltreatment, negative life events, and earthquake exposure contribute to PTSD and depression. In particular, the identification of subgroups that have a high prevalence of these childhood adversities could assist professionals to target populations that are at high risk of mental health problems.
... The CD-RISC is a self-reported rating instrument intended to assess resilience among adults [48]. The Chinese version of the CD-RISC, with 25 items, was developed by a group [49]. It has three subscales: tenacity (e.g., Strong sense of purpose), strength (e.g., Able to adapt to change), and optimism (e.g., Can deal with whatever comes). ...
Full-text available
Although some studies have explored the relationships between childhood maltreatment and life satisfaction, few studies have explored the pathways between those two variables in a sample of student preschool teachers. The current study, thus, attempts to explore the relationships between childhood maltreatment and life satisfaction in Chinese student preschool teachers and to examine the roles of resilience and social support in those relationships. A total of 1218 students majoring in early childhood education were recruited from three Chinese universities to attend this study. Self-reported questionnaires were used to collect data, and structural equation modeling was used to perform data analysis. Results showed that childhood maltreatment was negatively associated with life satisfaction in Chinese student preschool teachers; resilience and social support mediated those relationships. The findings suggest that childhood maltreatment not only has a direct relationship with life satisfaction, but also has an indirect relationship with life satisfaction via resilience and social support. Childhood maltreatment should be considered when enrolling student preschool teachers, and increasing levels of resilience and social support should be meaningful approaches when cultivating student preschool teachers who have experienced childhood maltreatment.
Full-text available
Background & Objectives: Family is a network of relationships where parents and children interact in a mutual communication. The mother's reactions greatly influence their child; the behaviors and moods of children could also significantly affect the behavior of parents towards children. An essential component in children–focused treatment is to improve parents–children relationship. For this purpose, conflicts between parents and children are reduced, their interaction process is facilitated, and problem–solving skills are thought to them. The parents’ interaction with their children could affect several psychological factors, such as school anxiety and school phobia in children. Anxiety disorders are the most prevalent mental disorders in children; parents could majorly influence the aggravation or improvement of these disorders in children. School phobia is also a type of anxiety disorders in children, i.e., characterized by severe fear of going to school. Children with this disorder have a vague fear and concern about the possibility of an accident or disaster and often complain of physical illnesses, such as headaches, abdominal pains, and nausea. Anxiety disorders critically impact students, their educational performance, and quality of life. Thus, the current study aimed to develop a treatment package based on parent–child interaction and explore its effectiveness on school anxiety and school phobia among female students in fifth grade of primary school. Methods: This was a quasi–experimental study with a pretest–posttest and a control group design. The statistical population of this study consisted of all female students studying in the fifth grade of primary school in the academic year of 2017–2018 in Sirjan City, Iran (N=2750 girls). The study samples were selected among the clients referring to the counseling centers and clinics, who were diagnosed with anxiety. Of them, 30 individuals were selected by purposive sampling method as the study samples and were randomly assigned into the intervention (n=15) and control (n=15) groups. To collect the required data, the School Anxiety Inventory of Lyneham et al. (2008) and Child Anxiety Related Disorders of Birmaher (2008) were employed. The basis of the treatment based on parent–child interaction used in this research was derived from the framework of the therapeutic principles of the parent–child interaction presented by various relevant studies. The treatment program was held for fourteen 60–minute sessions (one session per week). To analyze the research findings, repeated–measures Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) at the significance level of 0.05. Results: The repeated–measures ANOVA results concerning school anxiety suggested that the effect of independent variable in the experimental group was significant (F=352.02, p<0.001). Additionally, the repeated–measures ANOVA data regarding school phobia revealed that the independent variable effect in the experimental group was significant (F=329.00, p<0.001). Conclusion: In general, the advantages of this treatment in reducing school anxiety and school phobia in children were as follows: providing more intimacy between the studied parents and their children through playing games; the process of teamwork governing the program and parental support on mutual teaching; encouraging the therapist to establish a strong relationship between parent and child; the reflection of their feeling and emotions, and providing feedback by performing homework assignments at home.
Full-text available
Abstract The purpose of this study was to investigate the role of the family atmosphere, mother-daughter relationship, social skills, and mothers' mental disorders in predicting child abuse of high school female students. The research design was a correlational. The statistical population consisted of 55766 Isfahan high school female students and their mothers in the academic year of 2017-2018 using a multistage cluster sampling method, 250 were selected. The research tools consisted of Questionnaire of Family Emotional Condition (Hill Burn, 1964), the Parent-Child Relationship Scale (Fine, Moreland & Schwebel, 1983), the Teenage Inventory of Social Skills Questionnaire (Inderbitzen & Foster, 1992), the General Health Questionnaire (Goldberg & Hillier, 1979) and Child Abuse Questionnaire (Nourbakhsh, 2012). The data were analyzed using stepwise regression analysis, and the final step of regression analysis showed that mother-daughter relationship and mothers' mental disorders were 10.6% were able to predict child abuse at the level (P <0.01). The results of this study indicate the importance of the mother's role in the prevention of child abuse of females. Therefore, researchers and planners in the field of psychosocial issues can provide a space to reduce this problem by formulating educational, preventive, and therapeutic programs.
Society’s awareness of sibling violence and sexual abuse, and its response, has lagged behind other child abuse issues and concerns. In comparison with parent–child abuse, sibling abuse is generally underreported by parents, teachers, mental health professionals, and communities. Researchers agree that it has received less attention than other forms of child maltreatment despite good evidence that suggests it is more common and no less injurious than child abuse when a parent or other adult is the perpetrator. This article provides definitions of sibling physical violence (SPV), sibling psychological maltreatment (SPM), and sibling sexual abuse (SSA), as well as prevalence, dynamics, impact, and intervention. Cultural, ethnic, and gender considerations, future directions, and recommendations for policy and prevention are also summarized.
Despite sufficient evidence to conclude that maltreatment exposure affects the risk of crime and delinquency, we conclude that the unique effects of child maltreatment on crime and delinquency, and the mechanisms through which those effects operate, remain poorly identified. Key challenges include insufficient attention to the overlap of child maltreatment with various forms of family dysfunction and adversity and a lack of comprehensive measurement of the multiple, often comorbid, forms of child maltreatment. We then consider potential impacts of the child welfare system on the maltreatment-crime link. Because the child welfare system typically provides voluntary, short-term services of unknown quality, it likely neither increases nor reduces risks of delinquency and crime for most children who encounter it. For the comparatively small subset of children experiencing foster care, impacts on delinquency and crime likely vary by the quality of environments within and after their time in care - issues that, to date, have received too little attention.
Background Bullying victimization is a robust predictor of mental distress among lesbian/gay, bisexual, and questioning (LGBQ) adolescents. However, few research accounted bullying victimization within the context of both sibling and peer relationships. Objective To examine the effect of sibling and peer bullying victimization on depression and anxiety between heterosexual adolescents and LGBQ adolescents. Method This was a cross-sectional study with a random sample of 3062 Chinese senior high school students (56.0% female) aged 14 to 18. Related information was collected through a self-reported questionnaire. The associations were examined via a set of logistic regression analysis. Results Of the participants, 12.5% were victims of sibling bullying only, 10.1% reported peer victimization only, and 4.7% were involved in both sibling and peer victimization. Compared to heterosexuals, LGBQ adolescents had increased risks of sibling victimization only, peer victimization only, and both sibling and peer victimization. The prevalence of major depression and generalized anxiety disorder were 24.9% and 18.7% respectively. Bullying victimization and sexual orientation were independently associated with depression and anxiety. Furthermore, the stratified analysis indicated that sibling victimization only was significantly associated with depression and anxiety for heterosexual adolescents, while the associations were not significant for LGBQ adolescents. Conclusions Sexual orientation and bullying victimization are predictive factors of depression and anxiety. In particular, bullying victimization shows the different effects on depression and anxiety between heterosexual and LGBQ adolescents. Anti-bullying intervention could take distinct strategies based on different sexual orientation to reduce risks of adolescents' mental health problems.
Full-text available
Sibling relationships have a substantial and lasting effect on children's development. Many siblings experience some occasional conflict, however, up to 40% are exposed to sibling bullying every week, a repeated and harmful form of intrafamilial aggression. We review evidence on the precursors, factors relating to peer bullying, and mental health consequences of sibling bullying. Parenting quality and behaviour are the intrafamilial factors most strongly associated with bullying between siblings. Sibling bullying increases the risk of being involved in peer bullying, and is independently associated with concurrent and early adult emotional problems, including distress, depression, and self-harm. The effects appear to be cumulative, with those children bullied by both siblings and peers having highly increased emotional problems compared with those bullied by siblings or peers only, probably because they have no safe place to escape from bullying. The link between sibling and peer bullying suggests interventions need to start at home. Health professionals should ask about sibling bullying and interventions are needed for families to prevent and reduce the health burden associated with sibling bullying.
Full-text available
Past research has demonstrated the particularly damaging effects of exposure to multiple forms of victimization, or "poly-victimization," on youth mental health. The primary objective of the present study is to begin to identify the mechanisms that help explain its powerful impact. Analyses are based on two waves of longitudinal data from the National Survey of Children's Exposure to Violence (NatSCEV), conducted in 2008 and 2010, that comprised a telephone sample of 1,186 youth ages 10 to 17. Using structural equation modeling, we examine direct and indirect effects on distress symptoms of increased, decreased, and stable high poly-victimization between Waves 1 and 2 compared to no or low victimization in both waves. Specifically, we consider the extent to which reductions in core psychosocial resources, including family support, peer support, self-esteem, and mastery, mediate the relationship between these poly-victimization conditions and distress. Relative to stable low victimization, both increased poly-victimization and stable high poly-victimization were associated with declines in all four resources. However, only self-esteem and mastery significantly mediated the association between poly-victimization and distress, with mastery showing the strongest effect. Although significant indirect effects were evident, poly-victimization still had a strong direct effect on distress with resource factors controlled. Findings support the hypothesis that the potent effect of poly-victimization on youth mental health is, in part, due to its damaging influence on core psychosocial resources. © The Author(s) 2015.
Full-text available
Background The adult mental health consequences of childhood maltreatment are well documented. Maltreatment by peers (ie, bullying) has also been shown to have long-term adverse effects. We aimed to determine whether these effects are just due to being exposed to both maltreatment and bullying or whether bullying has a unique effect. Methods We used data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children in the UK (ALSPAC) and the Great Smoky Mountains Study in the USA (GSMS) longitudinal studies. In ALSPAC, maltreatment was assessed as physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, or severe maladaptive parenting (or both) between ages 8 weeks and 8·6 years, as reported by the mother in questionnaires, and being bullied was assessed with child reports at 8, 10, and 13 years using the previously validated Bullying and Friendship Interview Schedule. In GSMS, both maltreatment and bullying were repeatedly assessed with annual parent and child interviews between ages 9 and 16 years. To identify the association between maltreatment, being bullied, and mental health problems, binary logistic regression analyses were run. The primary outcome variable was overall mental health problem (any anxiety, depression, or self-harm or suicidality). Findings 4026 children from the ALSPAC cohort and 1420 children from the GSMS cohort provided information about bullying victimisation, maltreatment, and overall mental health problems. The ALSPAC study started in 1991 and the GSMS cohort enrolled participants from 1993. Compared with children who were not maltreated or bullied, children who were only maltreated were at increased risk for depression in young adulthood in models adjusted for sex and family hardships according to the GSMS cohort (odds ratio [OR] 4·1, 95% CI 1·5–11·7). According to the ALSPAC cohort, those who were only being maltreated were not at increased risk for any mental health problem compared with children who were not maltreated or bullied. By contrast, those who were both maltreated and bullied were at increased risk for overall mental health problems, anxiety, and depression according to both cohorts and self-harm according to the ALSPAC cohort compared with neutral children. Children who were bullied by peers only were more likely than children who were maltreated only to have mental health problems in both cohorts (ALSPAC OR 1·6, 95% CI 1·1–2·2; p=0·005; GSMS 3·8, 1·8–7·9, p<0·0001), with differences in anxiety (GSMS OR 4·9; 95% CI 2·0–12·0), depression (ALSPAC 1·7, 1·1–2·7), and self-harm (ALSPAC 1·7, 1·1–2·6) between the two cohorts. Interpretation Being bullied by peers in childhood had generally worse long-term adverse effects on young adults' mental health. These effects were not explained by poly-victimisation. The findings have important implications for public health planning and service development for dealing with peer bullying. Funding Wellcome Trust, Medical Research Council, Economic and Social Research Council, National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, NARSAD (Early Career Award), and the William T Grant Foundation.
Full-text available
Objectives: Being the victim of peer bullying is associated with increased risk of psychopathology, yet it is not known whether similar experiences of bullying increase risk of psychiatric disorder when the perpetrator is a sibling. We tested whether being bullied by a sibling is prospectively associated with depression, anxiety, and self-harm in early adulthood. Methods: We conducted a longitudinal study using data from >6900 participants of a UK community-based birth cohort (Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children) who reported on sibling bullying at 12 years. Our main outcome measures were depression, anxiety, and self-harm, assessed using the Clinical Interview Schedule-Revised during clinic assessments when participants were 18. Results: Children who were frequently bullied were approximately twice as likely to have depression (odds ratio [OR] = 2.16; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.33-3.51; P < .001), self-harm (OR = 2.56; 95% CI, 1.63-4.02; P < .001), and anxiety (OR = 1.83; 95% CI, 1.19-2.81; P < .001) as children who were not bullied by siblings. The ORs were only slightly attenuated after adjustment for a range of confounding individual, family, and peer factors. The population-attributable fractions suggested that 13.0% (95% CI, 1.0%-24.7%) of depression and 19.3% (95% CI, 7.6%-29.6%) of self-harm could be explained by being the victim of sibling bullying if these were causal relationships. Conclusions: Being bullied by a sibling is a potential risk factor for depression and self-harm in early adulthood. Our results suggest that interventions designed to target sibling bullying should be devised and evaluated.
Full-text available
Sibling aggression is a common form of intra-familial aggression, yet has been largely neglected by research. Using an inclusive measure of sibling aggression, this study investigated, firstly, prevalence of sibling aggression and associations with family and household characteristics, and secondly, the relationship between sibling aggression and peer bullying. Participants were 4,237 adolescents from Wave 1 of Understanding Society. Four types of sibling aggression were measured: physical, verbal, stealing and teasing, and combined into composite measures of victimization and perpetration. Regression analysis identified associations with demographic characteristics, family and sibling composition, parent–child relationships and socioeconomic status and explored the link between sibling aggression and involvement in peer bullying. Using a broad definition, sibling aggression was found to be widespread, with 46% of all participants being victimized and 36% perpetrating aggression. Household and family characteristics, including a large family size, male siblings, and financial difficulties were associated with greater rates of sibling aggression. Parenting behavior showed the strongest relationship: harsh parenting increased the risk of sibling aggression while positive parenting protected against it. Sibling aggression was also homotypically related to involvement in peer bullying. Victimization by siblings significantly increased the odds of being a victim of peer bullying, and perpetrators of sibling aggression were more likely to be both peer bullies and bully-victims. Considering the adverse effects of sibling aggression on physical and mental health, the study provides pointers for efforts to reduce the risk of sibling aggression. Furthermore, the link with peer bullying suggests that school anti-bullying efforts should also take account of children's sibling relationships. Aggr. Behav. 9999:XX–XX, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Full-text available
This research examines how family dynamics like interparental conflict, family violence, and quality of parenting are associated with young children's experiences of sibling victimization. We use nationally representative data from interviews with caregivers of 1,726 children aged 2 to 9 years of age. We hypothesized different family dynamics predictors for a composite of common types of sibling victimization (property, psychological, and mild physical aggression) in comparison to severe physical sibling victimization (victimization that includes physical aggression with a weapon and/or injury). Multinomial regression results showed that sibling victimization in general was associated with negative family dynamics but that children in the severe group had even less parental warmth, poor parental supervision, and greater exposure to interparental conflict and family violence than children in the common types victimization group. Different aspects of family dynamics contribute to sibling victimization, but possibly in different ways and with different consequences. The findings underscore the importance of a family systems theory approach to clinical and intervention work. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved).
Negative parental attributions are related to parent and family stressors and are thought to be important predictors of subsequent disciplinary actions and, potentially, abusive parenting. We examined if negative parental attributions mediate the relation between daily stressors (i.e., low SES, parenting stress, partner-related stress) parents’ own history of child maltreatment, and harsh and abusive parenting. Mothers (n = 53) completed a computerized attribution task and reported on daily stressors, their own history of child maltreatment and their discipline strategies. Mothers’ negative parental attributions mediated the association between parenting stress (but not the other stressors) and harsh and abusive discipline. These finding implicate that interventions to decrease (the risk of) child abuse should not only focus on reducing abuse-related stressors, but also target negative parental attributions.
It is important to estimate the burden of and trends for violence, crime, and abuse in the lives of children. To provide health care professionals, policy makers, and parents with current estimates of exposure to violence, crime, and abuse across childhood and at different developmental stages. The National Survey of Children's Exposure to Violence (NatSCEV) includes a representative sample of US telephone numbers from August 28, 2013, to April 30, 2014. Via telephone interviews, information was obtained on 4000 children 0 to 17 years old, with information about exposure to violence, crime, and abuse provided by youth 10 to 17 years old and by caregivers for children 0 to 9 years old. Exposure to violence, crime, and abuse using the Juvenile Victimization Questionnaire. In total, 37.3% of youth experienced a physical assault in the study year, and 9.3% of youth experienced an assault-related injury. Two percent of girls experienced sexual assault or sexual abuse in the study year, while the rate was 4.6% for girls 14 to 17 years old. Overall, 15.2% of children and youth experienced maltreatment by a caregiver, including 5.0% who experienced physical abuse. In total, 5.8% witnessed an assault between parents. Only 2 significant rate changes could be detected compared with the last survey in 2011, namely, declines in past-year exposure to dating violence and lifetime exposure to household theft. Children and youth are exposed to violence, abuse, and crime in varied and extensive ways, which justifies continued monitoring and prevention efforts.
Great advances have been made in the study of family violence in the past 30 years. However, sibling abuse and its prevalence in the family have largely been overlooked. In this article, the major issues associated with sibling maltreatment are highlighted, and strategies for helping the victims and perpetrators of sibling abuse and their families are described.