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Background: In recent times, sibling bullying has emerged of interest to researchers concerned with the emotional and behavioural implications for victimization regardless of type and setting. Aims: This research attempts to extend current knowledge on both peer and sibling bullying and to determine the effects of poly-setting victimization. This paper is concerned with the following objectives: (1) determining the current rate of bullying and victimization among siblings and peers in a large sample of adolescents; (2) investigating the relationship between sibling and peer bullying and depression and behaviour; (3) highlighting the carry-over effects of bullying from one setting to another; and (4) determining the overall association of poly-setting victimization with depression and behaviour. Sample and methods: Over 2,000 adolescents aged between 12 and 15 years participated in an online survey. Results: Results found lower rates of sibling bullying compared to international studies. Sibling victims of bullying were at increased risk of becoming peer victims. Poor friendship quality, disliking school, along with peer and sibling bullying involvement predicted scores in the clinical range for outcome measures of internalizing and externalizing problem. Conclusions: The current study has clinical and educational implications for working with all important stakeholders (i.e., schools, parents, siblings) to reduce bullying and improve mental health.
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British Journal of Educational Psychology (2019)
©2019 The British Psychological Society
www.wileyonlinelibrary.com
Bullying by siblings and peers: Poly-setting
victimization and the association with problem
behaviours and depression
Mair
ead Foody
1
*, Muthanna Samara
2
and James O’Higgins
Norman
1
1
Anti-Bullying Research and Resource Centre, Dublin City University, Ireland
2
Department of Psychology, Kingston University London, UK
Background. In recent times, sibling bullying has emerged of interest to researchers
concerned with the emotional and behavioural implications for victimization regardless of
type and setting.
Aims. This research attempts to extend current knowledge on both peer and sibling
bullying and to determine the effects of poly-setting victimization. This paper is concerned
with the following objectives: (1) determining the current rate of bullying and victimization
among siblings and peers in a large sample of adolescents; (2) investigating the relationship
between sibling and peer bullying and depression and behaviour; (3) highlighting the carry-
over effects of bullying from one setting to another; and (4) determining the overall
association of poly-setting victimization with depression and behaviour.
Sample and methods. Over 2,000 adolescents aged between 12 and 15 years
participated in an online survey.
Results. Results found lower rates of sibling bullying compared to international studies.
Sibling victims of bullying were at increased risk of becoming peer victims. Poor friendship
quality, disliking school, along with peer and sibling bullying involvement predicted scores
in the clinical range for outcome measures of internalizing and externalizing problem.
Conclusions. The current study has clinical and educational implications for working
with all important stakeholders (i.e., schools, parents, siblings) to reduce bullying and
improve mental health.
The burgeoning field of peer bullying research has provided much-needed insights into
child and adolescent development, such as the association with childhood adversity and
psychopathology in later life (Arseneault et al., 2011). Regardless of the methods used,
research has demonstrated a significant link between bullying experiences and social,
behavioural, and psychological problems. For peer bullying, exposure to such incidences
has been associated with anxiety, depression, psychosis, lower self-esteem, borderline
personality disorder, and even suicide across all age groups (Fisher et al., 2013; Kelleher
et al., 2013; Patchin & Hinduja, 2010; Winsper, Hall, Strauss, & Wolke, 2017; Wolke,
Copeland, Angold, & Costello, 2013). Other factors such as lower academic achievement
*Correspondence should be addressed to Mair
ead Foody, Anti-Bullying Research and Resource Centre, Dublin City University,
Drumcondra, Dublin D09 DY00, Ireland (email: Mairead.foody@dcu.ie).
DOI:10.1111/bjep.12311
1
and early school leaving are demonstrated outcomes of bullying (Cornell, Huang, Grego ry,
& Xitao, 2013; Hammig & Jozkowski, 2013), and the impact has been shown to be long-
lasting (Takizawa, Maughan, & Arseneault, 2014).
While the literature is abundant with studies on the impact of peer bullying, bullying
between brothers and sisters is less researched. Sibling bullying is the term used to refer to
bullying behaviour when occurring between siblings of any age and gender. For many,
aggression between siblings is considered a normal part of childhood and individuals are
generally more complacent about sibling violence compared to peer violence (Reese-
Weber, 2008). One systematic review in 2015 found only 19 studies that specifically
investigated risk factors, relationship to peer bullying, and/or the mental health
consequences of sibling bullying (Wolke, Tippett, & Dantchev, 2015). The same review
found the rate of sibling bullying to be generally higher than peer bullying (e.g., 1040%
compared to 220%, respectively), with similar results documented elsewhere in the
literature (Hoffman, Kiecolt, & Edwards, 2005). It is astonishing that this research area has
not developed more, especially when one considers that children spend more time with
siblings than parents by the time they reach middle childhood (Faith, Elledge, Newgent, &
Cavell, 2015). Despite this, studies have recognized sibling bullying as one of the most
prevalent, long-lasting, and damaging experiences for young people (e.g., Bowes, Wolke,
Joinson, Lereya, & Lewis, 2014; Dantchev, Zammit, & Wolke, 2018; Hardy, 2001; Khan &
Cooke, 2013).
For the most part, sibling bullying is defined in the same manner that peer bullying is,
only that it applies to the unique relationship between siblings of any age or gender. As
such, there are particular elements specific to sibling bullying which separate it from
aggression, harassment, and fighting. These include repetition, intent to hurt, negative
outcomes, and a power hierarchy (Olweus, 1991). In general, research suggests that
individuals involved in sibling bullying are more likely than those not involved to report
mental health problems (Tucker, Finkelhor, Turner, & Shattuck, 2013), abuse substances
(Button & Gealt, 2010), and engage in anti-social behaviour towards peers (Ensor, Marks,
Jacobs, & Hughes, 2010; Menesini, Camodeca, & Nocentini, 2010). As the number of
siblings increases, there is also an increase in the likelihood of both bullying perpetration
and victimization (Bowes et al., 2014; Tippett & Wolke, 2015). In addition, the outcomes
for those involved in both sibling and peer bullying can be particularly damaging
(Dantchev et al., 2018; Duncan, 1999). Furthermore, the relationship between sibling
and peer bullying appears to have the potential to predict, in that poor sibling
relationships may influence and even determine poor peer relationships (e.g., Defoe
et al., 2013; Johnson et al., 2014).
While there have been some international investigations of sibling bullying elsewhere
(e.g., Tanrikulu & Campbell, 2015; Wolke & Samara, 2004), this is the first large-scale study
to investigate this issue with adolescents in the Republic of Ireland. For the most part,
current research has established a link between sibling bullying and mental health
problems (particularly to depression; Bar-Zomer & Brunstein Klomek, 2018) and on the
role of social support in preventing internalizing problems (e.g., Coyle, Demaray, Malecki,
Tennant, & Klossing, 2017). As such, this study aims to build on previous international
research on the implications of sibling bullying, while investigating this issue with an Irish
population.
We were specifically concerned with the following research questions: What is the
current rate of bullying and victimization among siblings and does it differ for specific
types of bullying behaviour including physical, verbal, and relational bullying? What are
the carry-over effects between sibling and peer bullying? What is the relationship between
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ead Foody et al.
involvement in sibling bullying and internalizing and externalizing problems? What is the
relationship of poly-setting bullying and/or victimization (i.e., sibling victimization and
peer victimization) and internalizing and externalizing problems? And finally, is
involvement in sibling and/or peer bullying associated with levels of internalizing and
externalizing problems in a cross-sectional sample?
Method
This study involved a cross-sectional analysis of sibling and peer bullying involvement in
teenagers aged 1215 years, M(SD): 13.5(1), and attending 1st to 3rd year in post-primary
schools across Ireland. All post-primary schools in the country (N=811) were initially
contacted by email asking them to take part in the study. A reminder email was sent
2 weeks later. Thirty-two schools initially responded and agreed to participate, two of
which later declined, leaving 30 participating schools representing 3.7% of the entire post-
primary population. Originally, 2,606 students were recruited from these schools;
however, 196 students declined to participate by selecting the relevant option when
presented with the survey. This resulted in a final sample of 2,410 junior cycle post-
primary students, 1,018 males (43.2%) and 1,338 (56.8%) females. Out of the final sample,
2,144 participants (87.7%) were Irish (see Table 1). The number of participants who
reported having at least one sibling was 2,247 (93%). The mean number of siblings was
2.3.
Ethical issues
This study received ethical approval from the first author’s university ethics review board.
Principals were contacted initially, and written information about the study was provided
by email. Once consent was obtained at this level, parental information and consent forms
were provided to parents by the participating schools. The survey was delivered online
and took place during one class sitting. A unique link to complete the survey was given to
each participating school and the principal shared it with the teachers of the respective
Table 1. Gender, year group, and nationality of the sample
N% of sample
Gender
Male 1,018 42.2
Female 1,338 55.5
Missing
a
54 2.3
Post-primary school year
First 1,257 52.2
Second 1,024 42.5
Third 21 0.9
Missing
a
108 4.4
Nationality
Irish 2,144 87.7
Non-Irish 274 11.4
Missing
a
22 0.9
Note.
a
Questions did not include mandatory answers, so some questions left unanswered and labelled as
missing.
Sibling and peer bullying in Ireland 3
class groups. Before the students were presented with the survey, they were first given a
plain language statement about the research. Students were also informed that they do not
have to complete the survey and were free to stop participating at any time. Students had
to actively select a response saying they gave their consent before they were able to access
the survey. Responses were completely anonymous at both the pupil and school level.
Data collection took place between March and May 2017.
Survey instruments
Demographic variables
Participants were first asked to provide information about their gender (male/female),
year group (first, second, or third year), nationality (stating it specifically), and the number
of siblings they had.
Bullying questionnaires
Participants were presented with the following definition of bullying based on the Olweus
Bullying Questionnaire (OBQ, 1996):
We say a student is being bullied when another student, or several other students: (1) say
mean and hurtful things or make fun of him/her or call him/her mean and hurtful names; (2)
completely ignore or exclude him/her from their group of friends or leave him/her out of
things on purpose; (3) hit, kick, push, shove around or lock him/her inside a room; (4) tell lies
or spread false rumours about him/her or send mean notes and try to make other students
dislike him/her; (5) and any other hurtful things like that. When we talk about bullying, these
things happen repeatedly, and it is difficult for the student being bullied to defend himself or
herself. We also call it bullying, when a student is teased repeatedly in a mean and hurtful way.
But we don’t call it bullying when the teasing is done in a friendly and playful way. It is not
bullying when two students of about equal strength or power argue or fight.
Peer bullying instrument. Involvement in peer bullying was determined using a
modified version of the OBQ. This included three questions relating to physical bullying
(e.g., I was hit, kicked, pushed, shoved around, or locked indoors); three questions
relating to verbal bullying (e.g., I was called mean names, was made fun of, or teased in a
hurtful way); and two relating to relational bullying (e.g., other students let me out of
things on purpose, excluded me from their group of friends or completely ignored me).
Response options were as follows: ‘I haven’t been bullied in school (0), it has only
happened once or twice (1), 2 or 3 times a month (2), about once a week (3), and several
times a week (4)’. Responses were coded as not involved (0 and 1) and involved (2, 3,4)
and then all questions relating to specific bullying type were combined to give an overall
variable for involvement in three types of bullying: physical, verbal, and relational. Similar
questions and coding were asked in relation to peer bullying perpetration. We categorized
the variable into pure bullies (frequently involved in bullying others (2, 3, 4) but never or
rarely victimized 0, 1), pure victims (frequently involved in victimization (2, 3, 4) but
never or rarely bullied others 0, 1), bullyvictims (frequently involved in bullying others
and victimization 2, 3, 4), and neutrals (never or rarely bullied and victimized 0, 1). This
instrument had good internal consistency in the current study (Cronbach alpha
coefficient was .78 for victimization and .9 for bullying perpetration).
4Mair
ead Foody et al.
Happiness with school. Participants were asked a question relating to how much they
liked school: ‘How much do you like school?’ Participants chose the answer that applied
to them the most from the following response options: I dislike school very much; I dislike
school; I neither like nor dislike school; I like school; and I like school very much.
Sibling bullying. Involvement in sibling bullying was measured with a 7-item scale
based on a modified version of the OBQ used in a previous study (Wolke & Samara, 2004).
Participants were given the following instruction before being presented with the items:
During the last 3 months, please say if any of these things have been done to you by a
brother or sister on purpose. Two questions related to physical bullying (e.g., I was hit,
kicked, pushed, or threatened); one item measured verbal bullying (e.g., I was called bad
or nasty names); and two measured relational bullying (e.g., I was tricked in nasty way).
Response options were as follows: never (0), it has only happened once or twice (1), 2 or 3
times a month (2), about once a week (3), and several times a week (4). Responses were
coded as not involved (0 and 1) and involved (2, 3,4) and then all questions relating to
specific bullying type were combined to give an overall variable for involvement in three
types of bullying: physical, verbal, and relational. Similar questions and coding were asked
in relation to sibling bullying perpetration (e.g., during the last 3 months, please say if you
have done any of the following things to a brother or sister on purpose). This instrument
had good internal consistency in the current study (Cronbach alpha coeffic ient was .87 for
sibling victimization and .89 for sibling bullying). The same classification was done for
sibling bullying to pure bullies, pure victims, bullyvictims, and neutrals.
Behaviour questionnaire. The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) (Good-
man, 1997, 2001) was administered to all pupils (www.sdqinfo.com). It includes five
subscales which relate to conduct (e.g., I get very angry), emotional (e.g., I worry a lot),
peer (e.g., I am usually on my own), and hyperactivity problems (e.g., I am easily
distracted), as well as prosocial behaviour (e.g., I try to be nice to other people). Higher
scores indicate higher levels of each category. Information about how the SDQ was coded
and analysed is provided in the ‘Statistical Analysis’ section. This instrument had
satisfactory internal consistency in the current study for the total difficulties scale
(Cronbach alpha coefficient was .77); emotional subscale (Cronbach alpha coefficient
was .77); conduct problems (Cronbach alpha coefficient was .59); hyperactivity
(Cronbach alpha coefficient was .6); and prosocial subscales (Cronbach alpha coefficient
was .79). The reliability for the peer problems subscale (Cronbach alpha was .26) was
considered too low to be included in further analysis but the conduct problems and
hyperactivity subscales were retained.
Moods and feelings questionnaire. The Moods and Feelings Questionnaire short
version (MFQ, Angold et al., 1995; Messer et al., 1995) was used to determine how
participants were feeling in the past 2 weeks. Previous studies have found it to be a
reliable and valid measure of depression in populations aged 617 years (e.g., Jeffreys
et al., 2016). Answer options included: not true (0), sometimes true (1), and true (2). A
higher overall score indicates higher depression. This instrument had good internal
consistency in the current study (Cronbach alpha coefficient was .93).
Sibling and peer bullying in Ireland 5
Cambridge hormones and moods friendship quality questionnaire. A modified
version of this scale was included to investigate the quality of the friendships the
participants reported having with their peers (Goodyer, Wright, & Altham, 1989, 1990). It
contained five questions: (1) Are you happy with the number of friends you have? (2) Do
your friends know what makes you happy or sad? (3) How often do you see your friends
outside of school? (4) Do you talk to your friends about problems? And (5) overall, are you
happy with your friends? Response options ranged from simple YES/NO answers (e.g.,
Q2) to Likert-type answers where a higher number for the coded response represented
poorer friendship quality (e.g., Q5: very happy (1); quite happy (2); quite unhappy (3);
and unhappy (4)). This instrument had Cronbach alpha coefficient of .6.
Statistical analysis
The statistical software package SPSS version 24, (https://www.ibm.com/analytics/spss-
statistics-software) was used to conduct all analysis. Chi-square test for independence was
used to determine whether there were gender differences in involvement in the various
types and roles of sibling bullying and victimization, as well as to determine the carry-over
effects with peer bullying. To account for the nested nature of the data, we used the
complex samples module taking into account schools as a cluster-level factor and
conducted general linear model ANOVAs. This is to explore the relationship between
involvement in different types of sibling bullying and behaviour and depression levels
(measured by the MFQ, SDQ, and SDQ subscales). We used the same method to
investigate the association with depression and behaviour when individuals were
involved in bullying with siblings, peers, or both (i.e., poly-setting involvement).
Bonferroni corrections with the significance value set to .01 were used.
We also conducted a two-level logistic regression analysis to investigate which
variables predicted higher scores on the MFQ, SDQ, and its subscales. The first level
involved entering the variable ‘school’ only while the second level included the other
independent variables. Scores on the SDQ were re-coded and split for the borderline and
clinical range (80th percentile) versus normal range (<80th percentile) as dependent
variables. Using the 80th percentile as a cut-off point for the borderline and clinical range
is standard practice and has been demonstrated as having concordance with DSM-IV
diagnosis (He, Burstein, Schmitz, & Merikangas, 2013). The independent variables
included friendship quality, happiness with school, age, gender, number of siblings,
nationality, and involvement in peer or sibling bullying and/or victimization. Multiple
regression was used to investigate the role of the same variables in predicting scores on the
MFQ (as this involved a continuous variable).
Considering the nature of the student data reported (i.e., nested within schools),
hierarchical linear modelling was also conducted to determine the role of school in the
prevalence of bullying where bullying and victimization by peers and siblings were
considered as outcomes. For this analysis, four new continuous variables were created
for: (1) sibling victimization, (2) sibling bullying, (3) peer victimization, and (4) peer
bullying, where a higher number indicated more of each. We then used HLM to generate a
random-intercept model first with subsequent fixed predictors. A model containing only
school and these four new continuous variables as outcomes was first generated to
determine whether school was significant. A second model was built with fixed predictor
variables (e.g., gender, age). School was added as a random factor while the other
predictors (e.g., age, gender, nationality, friendship) as fixed model factors. Interclass
correlation coefficients (ICCs) were also calculated for each model. The ICC is the
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proportion of variance in the outcome variable that is explained by the grouping structure
of the hierarchal model. The ICC is used to determine whether there is a significant
clustering of observations within higher level units or in this case, at the school level.
Results
Sibling victimization and bullying
Involvement in sibling and peer bullying was categorized into four groups: bully, victim,
bullyvictim (both a victim and a bully), and neutrals (no involvement in bullying) for each
bullying type (see Table 2). When asked who they were bullied by, 25.9% said older
brother, 21.2% said older sister, 25.2% said younger brother, 24.9% said younger sister,
and 2.8% said a mixture of ages/siblings.
Chi-square analysis revealed a significant effect for gender and overall involvement in
sibling bullying (not split for specific types), v
2
(3, n=2,026) =14.4, p<.05, φ=.083;
physical sibling bullying, v
2
(3, n=2,030) =11.2, p<.05, φ=.074; verbal sibling
bullying, v
2
(3, n=2,040) =19.9, p<.001, φ=.099, but not relational sibling bullying
(p>.05). There were more female victims and bullyvictims across all types of sibling
bullying involvement (see Table 2).
There was a significant effect for gender and overall involvement in peer bullying, v
2
(3, n=2,246) =11.1, p<.05, φ=.07, as well as in each of the types of peer bullying:
physical bullying, v
2
(3, n=2,256) =10.6, p<.05, φ=.068; verbal, v
2
(3,
n=2,255) =13.2, p<.005, φ=.076; and relational, v
2
(3, n=2,251) =29.1,
p<.001, φ=.114. More males were physical peer bullies, victims, and bullyvictims,
while females were more likely to be verbal and relational peer victims compared to males.
Overlap between sibling and peer bullying
Chi-square analysis was used to determine whether there were any carry-over effects
between the subgroups of peer and sibling bullying. Or to put it another way, we wanted
to determine the odds of individuals being involved in peer bullying (across the different
groups) while taking account of their role in sibling bullying. There was a significant carry-
over effect for all peer and sibling bullying subgroups’ relationships (all ps<.001). Odds
ratios demonstrated the relative risk of involvement in sibling bullying/victimization and
peer bullying/victimization (see Table 3). This indicates that all sibling subgroups (bullies,
victims, and bullyvictims) were more likely to be peer bullies, victims, or bullyvictims
compared to neutrals. The strongest carry-over effect was for the bullyvictim subgroup
(sibling bullyvictim to peer bullyvictim; OR: 12.2) followed by those who are sibling
victims and also peer bullyvictims (OR: 7.34). The weakest carry-over effect, although
significant, was from sibling bully to peer victim (OR: 1.98; see Table 3).
Sibling bullying, behaviour, and depression
We conducted general linear model ANOVAs with Bonferroni corrections to determine
the role of sibling bullying involvement on internalizing and externalizing problems (SDQ
and MFQ). Due to the fact that there were several ANOVAs conducted, and an increased
chance of a type 1 error, we set the significance level of .01 (instead of .05). In addition, as
the data were nested among schools, we used the complex samples module in SPSS to
conduct the general linear models and conduct means comparisons. A new plan file was
Sibling and peer bullying in Ireland 7
Table 2. Frequency and prevalence for sibling and peer bullying type, bullying role, and gender
a
Sibling bullying Peer bullying
Physical
N/2,030 (%)
Verbal
N/2,040 (%)
Relational
N/2,039 (%)
Overall
N/2,026 (%)
Physical
N=2,258 (%)
Verbal
N=2,255 (%)
Relational
N=2,251 (%)
Overall
N=2,246 (%)
Bullies 55/2,030 (2.71) 66/2,040 (3.24) 31/2,039 (1.52) 64/2,026 (3.16) 14/2,258 (0.62) 25/2,255 (1.11) 13/2,251 (0.58) 26/2,246 (1.16)
Males 28/55 (50.9) 34/66 (51.5) 15/31 (48.4) 34/854 (3.98) 9/14 (64.3) 8/25 (32) 11/13 (84.6) 13/26 (50)
Females 27/55 (49.1) 32/66 (48.5) 16/31 (51.6) 30/1172 (2.56) 5/14 (35.7) 17/25 (68) 2/13 (15.4) 13/26 (50)
Victims 224/2,030 (11) 208/2,040 (10.2) 157/2,039 (7.70) 268/2,026 (13.2) 100/2,258 (4.43) 175/2,255 (7.76) 261/2,251 (11.6) 330/2,246 (14.7)
Males 92/224 (41.1) 66/208 (31.7) 50/157 (31.8) 97/854 (11.4) 51/100 (51) 73/175 (41.7) 77/261 (29.5) 116/330 (35.2)
Females 132/224 (58.9) 142/208 (68.3) 107/157 (68.2) 171/1,172 (14.6) 49/100 (49) 102/175 (58.3) 184/261 (70.4) 214/330 (64.8)
BullyVictims 213/2,030 (10.5) 228/2,040 (11.2) 68/2,039 (3.34) 313/2,026 (15.4) 9/2,258 (0.40) 23/2,255 (1.02) 9/2,251 (0.40) 38/2,246 (1.69)
Males 69/213 (32.4) 78/228 (34.2) 30/68 (44.1) 113/854 (13.2) 7/9 (77.8) 18/23 (78.3) 4/9 (44.4) 21/38 (55.3)
Females 144/213 (67.6) 150/228 (65.8) 38/68 (55.9) 200/1,172 (17.1) 2/9 (22.2) 5/23 (21.7) 5/9 (55.6) 17/38 (44.7)
Neutrals 1,538/2,030 (75.8) 1,538/2,040 (75.4) 1,783/2,039 (87.4) 1,381/2,026 (68.2) 2,135/2,258 (94.6) 2,032/2,255 (90.1) 1,968/2,251 (87.4) 1,852/2,246 (82.5)
Males 668/1,538 (43.4) 678/1,538 (44.1) 762/1,783 (42.7) 610/854 (71.4) 894/2,135 (41.9) 862/2,032 (42.4) 864/1,968 (43.9) 804/1,852 (43.4)
Females 870/1,538 (56.6) 860/1,538 (55.9) 1,021/1783 (57.3) 771/1,172 (65.8) 1,241/2135 (58.1) 1,170/2,032 (57.6) 1,104/1,968 (56.1) 1,048/1,852 (56.6)
Note.
a
Answers were not mandatory so frequencies or percentages do not add to total sample number.
8Mair
ead Foody et al.
first established with ‘school’ inputted at stage one as a ‘cluster’. The results found
significant differences between sibling physical bullying involvement on the MFQ, (Wald
F(3, 23) =40.1, p<.001], total difficulties, Wald F(3, 23) =34.4, p<.001, emotional
problems, Wald F(3, 23) =15.2, p<.001, conduct problems, Wald F(3,23) =30.7,
p<.001, hyperactivity, Wald F(3, 23) =9.93, p<.001, and prosocial behaviour, Wald F
(3, 23) =14.8, p<.001, scales (see Table 4).
There was a significant difference between involvement in relational sibling bullying
subgroups on the MFQ, Wald F(3, 23) =42.7, p<.001, total difficulties, Wald F
(3,23) =34.2, p<.001, emotional problems, Wald F(3, 23) =15.2, p<.001, conduct
problems, Wald F(3, 23) =37.5, p<.001, hyperactivity, Wald F(3, 23) =9.12, p<.01,
and prosocial behaviour, Wald F(3, 23 =14.8, p<.001, scales.
In addition, there was a significant difference for verbal sibling bullying subgroups on
the MFQ, Wald F(3, 23) =68.8, p<.001, total difficulties, Wald F(3, 23) =28.9,
p<.001, emotional problems, Wald F(3, 23) =18.1, p<.001, conduct problems, Wald F
(3, 23) =30.9, p<.01, hyperactivity, (Wald F(3, 23) =9.68, p<.001, and prosocial
behaviour, Wald F(3, 23) =5.01, p<.01, scales. Post hoc comparisons using Bonferroni
indicated a range of significant differences between victims, bullies, bullyvictims when
compared to neutrals (see Table 4).
Involvement in multiple settings and association with depression and behaviour
Using the same procedure as above, we also investigated overall involvement, regardless
of bullying type (e.g., physical, relational, or verbal), and association with the SDQ, SDQ
subscales, and MFQ. Participants were split into four groups: neutrals, sibling only, peer
only, and poly for victimization, perpetration, and bullyvictims (see Table S1).
Victimization
General linear model analyses revealed significant differences between the four groups on
the MFQ, F(3, 23) =157, p<.001, total, F(3, 23) =20.7, p<.001, emotional, F(3,
Table 3. Carry-over effect from sibling bullying and peer bullying compared to no carry-over effect
Peer
Bully (%)
Carry-over
effect from
sibling to peer
bullying Peer
BullyVictim
(%)
No carry-over
effect from
sibling bullying
to peer bullying
OR CI Sig (p)
Peer
victim (%)
No carry-over
effect
Sibling bully 49.3 18.4 4.32 2.667.02 <.001
29.3 17.3 1.98 1.522.57 <.001
57.1 17.1 6.47 3.4712.1 <.001
Sibling victim 60 28.7 3.73 2.296.07 <.001
46.6 26.2 2.44 1.933.09 <.001
72.1 26.0 7.34 3.7414.4 <.001
Sibling
bullyvictim
56.9 18.2 5.93 3.3610.5 <.001
33.1 16.8 2.44 1.823.27 <.001
71 16.6 12.2 5.5726.9 <.001
Note.CI=confidence interval; OR =odds ratio.
Sibling and peer bullying in Ireland 9
23) =25.4, p<.001, conduct, F(3, 23) =13.2, p<.001, and hyperactivity, F(3,
23) =6.01, p<.01, subscales. The significance level was set to .01 or .001, and all
differences from neutrals are noted in Table S1. Extra-group comparisons indicated that
poly-victim scores were significantly higher than sibling victims on the MFQ (p<.001).
Bullying perpetration
There were significant differences for perpetration between the four groups on the MFQ,
F(3, 23) =22.4, p<.001, total difficulties, F(3, 23) =29.3, p<.001, emotional, F(3,
23) =5.30, p<.01, conduct, F(3, 23) =34.2, p<.001, hyperactivity, F(3, 23) =8.05,
p<.001, and prosocial behaviour scale, F(3, 23) =4.93, p<.01. Extra-group compar-
isons indicated that peer bullies had significantly less conduct problems compared to
sibling and poly-bullies (p<.001 and p<.01, respectively). Poly-bullies demonstrated
significantly higher depression scores than sibling bullies (p<.001). Poly-bullies showed
significantly higher scores than peer bullies on the total difficulties scale (p<.001; see
Table S1).
Bullyvictims
General linear model analyses revealed significant differences for the groups on the MFQ,
F(3, 23) =85.2, p<.001, total difficulties, F(3, 23) =19.5, p<.001, emotional
Table 4. Means (M) and standard error (SE) for the SDQ total difficulties, SDQ subscales, and
depression for sibling bullying subgroups and types
Variable
Neutral Victim Bully BullyVictim
M(SE)M(SE)M(SE)M(SE)
Physical
Total difficulties 13.3 (0.28) 15.7 (0.62)** 15.8 (1.08) 16.8 (0.34)***
Emotional problems 3.82 (0.15) 4.78 (0.29)** 3.76 (0.42) 4.63 (0.15)***
Conduct problems 2.32 (0.10) 2.79 (0.15) 3.48 (0.36) 3.65 (0.16)***
Hyperactivity 4.46 (0.09) 4.90 (0.23) 5.36 (0.30) 5.36 (0.15)***
Prosocial behaviour 7.45 (0.14) 7.43 (0.18) 6.5 (0.36) 6.9 (0.18)
MFQ 4.17 (0.20) 6.44 (0.50)*** 6.06 (0.72) 6.34 (0.3)***
Relational
Total difficulties 13.5 (0.26) 17.2 (0.77)*** 17 (1.03)*** 18.4 (0.97)***
Emotional problems 3.85 (0.14) 5.28 (0.34)*** 4.50 (0.55) 4.86 (0.37)
Conduct problems 2.37 (0.10) 3.26 (0.24)** 4.47 (0.32)*** 4.33 (0.38)***
Hyperactivity 4.52 (0.08) 5.17 (0.20)** 5.69 (0.34)** 5.54 (0.31)**
Prosocial behaviour 7.43 (0.13) 7.44 (0.25) 5.25 (0.37)*** 6.66 (0.32)**
MFQ 4.31 (0.20) 7.28 (0.47)*** 7.63 (0.69)*** 6.70 (0.64)**
Verbal
Total difficulties 13.3 (0.28) 16.0 (0.56)*** 15.3 (0.95) 17 (0.42)***
Emotional problems 3.77 (0.15) 5.05 (0.25)*** 3.44 (0.47) 4.89 (0.19)***
Conduct problems 2.32 (0.11) 3.54 (0.34) 2.83 (0.13) 3.65 (0.19)**
Hyperactivity 4.47 (0.08) 4.99 (0.20) 5.33 (0.23)** 5.24 (0.15)***
Prosocial behaviour 7.42 (0.14) 7.50 (0.16) 6.18 (0.33)** 7.10 (0.18)
MFQ 4.02 (0.21) 6.8 (0.35)*** 5.59 (0.57) 7.19 (0.35)***
Notes.**Significant difference compared to neutrals (p<.01).
***Significant difference compared to neutrals (p<.001).
10 Mair
ead Foody et al.
Table 5. Two-level regression models at level 1 (school level only) and level 2 (all predictors) on the
SDQ total difficulties, SDQ subscales, and depression: unstandardized coefficients
Variable BSEbWald df
95% confidence
interval for B
Sig. (p)Lower Upper
Total difficulties
Level 1
School 0.024 0.006 1.03 17.6 1 1.01 1.04 <.001
Level 2
a
School 0.023 0.006 1.02 14.3 1 1.01 1.02 <.001
Friendship quality (poorer) 0.060 0.020 1.06 8.88 1 1.06 1.02 <.01
Happiness with school
(/dislike)
0.33 0.052 0.72 40.1 1 0.65 0.80 <.001
Peer victim 1.01 0.14 2.74 51.6 1 2.74 2.08 <.001
Peer bullyvictim 0.89 0.39 2.43 5.11 1 2.43 1.13 <.05
Sibling victim 0.50 0.15 1.65 10.7 1 1.65 1.22 <.001
Sibling bullyvictim 0.38 0.15 1.46 6.71 1 1.46 1.10 <.01
Emotional
Level 1
School 0.005 0.005 1.01 0.84 1 0.99 1.02 >.05
Level 2
Friendship quality (poorer) 0.080 0.020 1.08 16.4 1 1.04 1.13 <.001
Gender (Female) 0.94 0.11 2.56 71 1 2.06 3.18 <.001
How do you like school
(/less)
0.16 0.051 0.86 9.31 1 0.78 0.95 <.01
Peer victim 0.10 0.14 2.71 50.5 1 2.06 3.56 <.001
Peer bullyvictim 0.82 0.39 2.26 4.32 1 1.05 4.89 <.05
Sibling victim 0.52 0.15 1.67 12 1 1.25 2.24 <.001
Conduct problems
Level 1
School 0.010 0.005 1.01 3.54 1 1.00 1.02 >.05
Level 2
Gender (male) 0.502 0.11 0.61 22.4 1 0.49 0.75 <.001
How old are you (/younger) 0.18 0.068 0.84 6.9 1 0.73 0.96 <.01
How much do you like school
(/less)
0.27 0.051 0.76 29.4 1 0.69 0.84 <.001
Peer victim 0.53 0.142 1.70 14 1 1.29 2.24 <.001
Peer bully 1.5 0.46 4.48 10.8 1 1.83 11 <.01
Peer bullyvictim 1.30 0.41 3.66 10 1 1.64 8.17 <.01
Sibling bully 0.56 0.27 1.75 4.12 1 1.02 2.30 <.05
Sibling bullyvictim 0.77 0.14 2.17 31.5 1 1.65 2.84 <.001
Hyperactivity
Level 1
School 0.017 0.005 1.02 10.5 1 1.01 1.03 <.001
Level 2
School 0.016 0.005 1.02 8.97 1 1.01 1.03 <.01
How much do you like school
(/less)
0.33 0.048 0.72 46.6 1 0.66 0.79 <.001
Peer victim 0.38 0.14 1.46 7.75 1 1.12 1.91 <.01
Continued
Sibling and peer bullying in Ireland 11
problems, F(3, 23) =11.3, p<.001, conduct, F(3, 23) =25.2, p<.001, hyperactivity, F
(3, 23) =8.73, p<.01, and prosocial behaviour scale, F(3, 23) =4.55, p<.01. Extra-
group comparisons indicated sibling bullyvictims were significantly more prosocial
compared to poly-bullyvictims (p<.01), while poly-bullyvictims had significantly
higher scores on the MFQ compared to sibling bullyvictims (p<.01; see Table S1).
Predicting externalizing and internalizing problems
Taking into account the clustered nature of the data (within schools), two-level regression
analyses were conducted to test the predictors of being in the borderline/clinical range for
total difficulties, emotional problems, conduct problems, hyperactivity, and prosocial
behaviour. The first level tested differences at the school level, while the second level in
Table 5. (Continued)
Variable BSEbWald df
95% confidence
interval for B
Sig. (p)Lower Upper
Peer bullyvictim 0.97 0.41 2.64 5.71 1 1.19 5.85 <.05
Sibling victim 0.33 0.14 1.39 5.24 1 1.05 1.83 <.05
Sibling bully 0.85 0.27 2.34 9.84 1 1.38 3.97 <.01
Prosocial
Level 1
School 0.002 0.007 1.0 0.13 1 0.99 1.01 >.05
Level 2
Nationality (non-Irish) 0.45 0.19 1.57 5.87 1 1.09 2.27 <.05
Friendship quality (poorer) 0.057 0.023 1.06 6.06 1 1.01 1.11 <.05
Gender (male) 0.77 0.13 0.46 36.1 1 0.36 0.59 <.001
How much do you like school
(/less)
0.43 0.060 0.65 50.7 1 0.58 0.73 <.001
Peer bully 1.00 0.46 2.73 5.85 1 1.12 6.68 <.05
Sibling bully 0.71 0.29 2.04 5.91 1 1.15 3.62 <.05
Depression
Variable BSEbt
95% confidence
interval for B
Sig. (p)
Lower
bond
Upper
bond
Level 1
School 0.019 0.013 0.040 1.4 0.045 0.007 >.05
Level 2
Gender (Female) 1.83 0.24 0.21 7.69 1.36 2.30 <.001
How much do you like school
(-/less)
0.51 0.12 0.12 4.30 0.74 0.27 <.001
Friendship quality (higher) 0.36 0.05 0.19 7.22 0.26 0.46 <.001
Peer victim 3.01 1.02 0.08 2.95 1.01 5.02 <.01
Sibling bully 0.73 .15 0.13 4.76 0.43 1.03 <.001
Note.
a
Only significant pvalues reported for level 2.
12 Mair
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each model involved the addition of the predictor variables. The following variables were
entered into the model at the second stage: friendship quality, nationality (Irish or non-
Irish), happiness with school, age, gender, number of siblings, and involvement in peer or
sibling bullying (see Table 5). The school variable was significant at level one for total
difficulties, v
2
(1, 1943) =18, p<.001, while the full model (with the predictors school,
poor friendship quality, disliking school, being a peer victim, peer bullyvictim, sibling
victim, and a sibling bullyvictim) was also significant, v
2
(13, 1943) =194, p>.001, see
Table 5. School was not significant at level 1 for the emotional subscale but the full model
with six significant variables was significant, v
2
(13, 1943) =211, p<.001, see Table 5.
Similar results were found for conduct problems where level 1 predictor school variable
was not significant but the full model with eight significant variables was significant, v
2
(13, 1943) =155, p<.001. School was a significant predictor at level 1 for hyperactivity,
v
2
(1, 1943) =10.7, p<.001, as was the full model with six significant variables, v
2
(13,
1943) =105, p<.001. School was not significant at level 1 for prosocial behaviour, but
the full model with six significant variables was significant, v
2
(13, 1943) =146] (all
ps<.001).
Multiple regression analysis (DV: total MFQ score) was employed to determine the role
of friendship quality, happiness with school, age, gender, number of siblings, involvement
in peer or sibling bullying, and nationality on depression levels. Five significant
contributing factors were significant (see Table 5). The final total model for depression
was significant (R
2
=.12, adjusted =.16; p<.001).
In terms of peer bullying, results from the HLM found that the first model indicated that
school was significant for peer victimization (p<.05), and not for peer bullying
perpetration (p>.05). The second model indicated that school, poor friendship quality,
disliking school, and being of non-Irish nationality were significant predictor variables for
peer victimization, while only negative friendship quality, disliking school, and non-Irish
nationality were significant predictors of peer bullying (see Table S2). For sibling
victimization, the first model with school only was not significant (p>.05) while the
model for sibling perpetration was significant (p<.05). Being female, disliking school,
and having poor friendship quality were significant predictors for sibling victimization (all
ps<.01). Being female, having higher number of siblings and disliking school were
significant predictors for being a sibling bully (all ps<.05).
Discussion
This study aimed to investigate bullying between siblings in Ireland and to provide a
detailed analysis of prevalence for types of sibling and peer bullying (physical, verbal, and
relational). In addition, it documents the carry-over effect of bullying involvement from
one setting to another (i.e., sibling to peer) and demonstrates the mental health and
behaviour implications of poly-involvement for all of the roles (victim, bully, and bully
victim). The majority of this sample (93.5%) reported having at least one sibling, and the
average number of siblings was 2.3. The central statistics office in Ireland reported an
average number of children per family as 1.38 in 2016, although it has been reported to be
on the rise in recent years. This is considered one of the highest rates in Europe (European
Commission, 2015). These differences may arise from the lack of a definition of sibling
bullying provided in the current study. For example, the central statistics office refers to
the number of ‘children per family’ (either for a couple or a single parent). Our study may
suggest a higher number of children per family because participants were simply asked to
Sibling and peer bullying in Ireland 13
report the number of brothers and sisters they had. No definition of ‘sibling’ was provided,
and so, participants could have reported on all brothers or sisters that they had (including
step-siblings, half-siblings, or foster siblings), as opposed to those connected to only one
family unit (one or two parents). Future research needs to take this into account and
ensure that all participants have a clear understanding of what the question refers to when
using the terms sibling, half-sibling, step-sibling etc.
For sibling bullying, 13.2% reported being sibling victims, 3.2% reported being sibling
bullies, and 15.4% reported being bullyvictims. These prevalence rates are generally
much lower than international comparisons. For example, one study in the United
Kingdom reported rates as high as 45% for victims of sibling aggression (Tippett & Wolke,
2015). It is likely that the strict definition of bullying prohibited individuals from reporting
sibling aggression or more general negative interactions with siblings. By providing a
definition of bullying to the participants, we attempted to clearly articulate what this
meant so that students did not confuse it with aggression or even fighting. Of course, our
findings are limited in that we cannot say with absolute certainty that this is how
participants interpreted the concept. Much like the peer bullying literature, the sibling
bullying literature may struggle with definitional issues and with ensuring that all
participants understand the concept in a similar manner.
For peer bullying, 14.7% reported being victims, 1.2% reported being peer bullies, and
1.7% reported being bullyvictims. The rate of peer victimization is similar to that
reported in a recent meta-analysis of all the studies published in Ireland on bullying in the
last 20 years (Foody, Samara, & O’Higgins Norman, 2017). However, for peer bullying
perpetration, the rate appears much lower than the figure of 6.9% generated by the same
meta-analysis. It is difficult to determine why this may be the case. One explanation is that
the current study used a strict definition of bullying with regard to repetition and
considered the first two Likert answer options (i.e., I haven’t been bullied in school and It
has only happened once or twice) as neutrals (no bullying involvement). Previous
literature has highlighted that the coding of answers can greatly modify bullying rates from
one study to the next (Foody et al., 2017).
In terms of gender, females were more likely to be sibling victims and sibling bully
victims for physical and verbal bullying when compared to males, while gender
differences were minimal for sibling bullies with regard to all types of bullying
perpetration. There were obvious gender differences for involvement in peer bullying
(see Table 2). These results are generally in keeping with international comparisons in the
peer bullying literature which demonstrate that males are more likely to be physical
bullies (e.g., Silva, Pereira, Mendoncßa, Nunes, & de Oliveira, 2013) and females report
more relational victimization compared to males (Wang, Iannotti, & Nansel, 2009).
However, the results from the sibling bullying data show that gender does not provide the
same indicator of bullying involvement between brothers and sisters.
The carry-over analysis gave a clearer picture of the overlap between sibling and peer
bullying. The strongest carry-over effect was for the bullyvictim subgroup (sibling bully
victim to peer bullyvictim) followed by the sibling victim to peer bullyvictim. The
weakest carry-over effect, although significant, was from sibling bully to peer victim. This
is perhaps the most sobering result of this study and it clearly outlines the risk for further
bullying experiences when there is previous exposure at home. It highlights the
importance of parenting and the family unit in the prevention of bullying involvement
(Bar-Zomer & Brunstein Klomek, 2018; Lereya et al., 2013). Furthermore, it suggests that
the effectiveness of anti-bullying programmes at the school level may have limited
effectiveness if not considered within the wider community context.
14 Mair
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Interestingly, the prevalence of bullyvictims varied a lot from sibling to peer bullying.
The bullyvictim group in the peer bullying is usually a small group but it seems that this is
not the case in sibling bullying, where they represented the largest percentage. One
explanation is that siblings exchange roles more regularly as they strive to gain more out of
bullying including resources such as parental attention, affection, love, and other material
gains. In addition, the power imbalance changes more regularly among siblings (from
bully to victims and vice versa) due to the interference of parents and othe r siblings, which
could potentially play less of a role in peer interaction. There are many other
developmental, psychological, and logistical factors which may account for a changing
imbalance of power between siblings such as age, conflict, time together, and/or sibling
spacing and location within the family unit. For example, some studies have suggested
that sibling relationships become more egalitarian with age (e.g., Furman & Buhrmester,
1992), while others have suggested that firstborns maintain higher levels of control in
family relationships than young siblings (Tucker, Updegradd & Baril, 2010).
Sibling bullying subgroups reported significantly more problems compared to neutrals
in terms of depression and behavioural problems. For example, sibling relational bullies
showed significantly more total difficulties, conduct, and hyperactivity problems and less
prosocial behaviour compared to neutrals. In addition, victims and bullyvictims differed
significantly from neutrals on measures of emotional problems, hyperactivity, and
depression (across all types of sibling bullying). This study adds to the growing literature
demonstrating the negative implications of sibling bullying, specifically in terms of the
link between sibling bullying involvement and depression. For example, Bowes et al.
(2014) found that children who were frequently bullied by a sibling were twice as likely to
show symptoms of depression and self-harm in adulthood.
This is one of the few studies to use the SDQ with sibling bullying subgroups and to
highlight the specific behavioural difficulties for these groups using the subscales. By so
doing, we were able to look at the behavioural difficulties associated with sibling and peer
bullying involvement in more detail. Poly-setting victimization was associated with
significantly more behaviour difficulties, depression, and emotional problems compared
to neutrals, highlighting this issue as a serious concern for our adolescents. Similar
negative outcomes were demonstrated for poly-setting bullyvictims, raising concern
over individuals who have problematic relationships with both siblings and peers.
Interestingly, the individuals who were only peer bullies displayed few significant
differences to neutrals in terms of internalizing and externalizing problems thus
suggesting that problematic sibling relationships may in fact be key to negative outcomes.
Sibling relationships need to be investigated in future research as potential predictors of
poly-bullying and victimizations. It is possible that interventions designed to reduce
maladaptive social behaviour such as empathy and perspective-taking interventions could
be helpful in this regard when implemented at home and at school (Foody & Samara,
2018).
For the most part, these conclusions are based on the SDQ being a valid instrument to
measure internalizing and externalizing problems. However, we found extremely low
reliability for the peer problems subscale in the current sample and decided to exclude it
from the analysis. Two other subscales (conduct problems and hyperactivity), as well as
the friendship questionnaire, had less than optimal internal reliability but we decided that
they could be included in the analysis. We determined that the Cronbach alpha level was
appropriate for this research study, even though a higher score is recommended for
measures to be used in applied settings (Nunnally, 1973). With this in mind, and the fact
that the Cronbach alpha level for the subscales that were used in this study went from .60
Sibling and peer bullying in Ireland 15
to .77, it is important to note that some recent literature has suggested that it may not be
the most ideal screening tool for such difficulties in young population (Garrido et al.,
2018). Future research will need to be conducted to determine the appropriateness of the
SDQ for research purposes, and these results will need to be considered in the light of this
new research agenda.
Regression analysis found that school, happiness with school, poor friendship quality,
being a peer victim, peer bullyvictim, sibling victim, and sibling bullyvictim were all
predictors of being in the borderline-clinical range on the total difficulties scale. For the
most part, being a victim of peer and sibling bullying and/or bullyvictims were important
predictors of overall behaviour problems and depression. In some cases (e.g., with
emotional problems and depression) gender, friendship quality, and not liking school
were also important predictors of outcomes when combined with bullying involvement.
The predictor variables for significantly more conduct problems in the borderline-clinical
range were unique in that they included being male, being younger in age, and being
involved in both sibling and peer bullying (as victim, bully, and bullyvictim).
Some limitations need to be mentioned when considering the current results. Firstly,
while we report on a substantial sample size, it is by no means representative of the post-
primary population in Ireland. Only 3.7% of all schools in the Republic of Ireland agreed to
participate and many students from these schools did not complete the survey. In an
attempt to ensure the feeling of anonymity for the schools, we did not collect information
regarding school type, ethos, size, gender, or location. It is important to note that our
results should be considered in the light of this.
A second limitation of this study is that it utilized a self-report tool to determine
levels of bullying. While this is useful to allow us to compare prevalence rates with
other countries, it is limited for many reasons. This method of data collection means
our participants have to consider their answers subjectively, rather than objectively.
Third, the results presented only demonstrated a cross-sectional relationship between
bullying and psychological outcomes. Future research utilizing longitudinal research
methods would give a clearer picture of how these variables interact. Fourth, the
definition provided to participants referred to peer bullying (and was inherently
school-focused) and no definition of sibling bullying was provided. A clearer outline
of what sibling bullying entails (i.e., intention, repetition, power hierarchy) needs to
be included in future research. Finally, the standard OBQ asks students about bullying
experiences in the current school year. The sibling bullying questionnaire asked about
the previous 3 months. Given that data collection took place between the period of
MarchMay, the timeframe for reporting peer bullying was greater than that for
sibling bullying. While the negative association of involvement in either sibling or
peer bullying would not be affected by this, it is important to consider the prevalence
rates in the light of this.
Despite the limitations, the current research extends knowledge on sibling bullying
and adds to the poly-victimization literature. It demonstrates novel findings in terms of the
role of school, friendship quality as well as happiness in school as important predictors of
behaviour problems within the clinical range (when combined with sibling and peer
bullying involvement). The study also took into account the cluster nature of the data and
included schools as a cluster variable. These findings are important for both mental health
and school-based anti-bullying interventions and demonstrate that promoting positive
siblingship, friendships, parental and school involvement are important factors in bullying
prevention (Samara & Smith, 2008).
16 Mair
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Acknowledgements
We would like to thank the Irish Research Council Government of Ireland Postdoctoral
Fellowship, the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions COFUND Collaborative Research Fellowships
for a Responsive and Innovative Europe (CAROLINE), and the Qatar National Research Fund
(QNRF), a member of Qatar Foundation Doha, Qatar, National Priority Research Programs
(NPRP) under Grant (NPRP 5-1134-3-240), for their support.
The authors would also like to thank all the schools, teachers, and children for their time
and willingness to participate in this research study.
Funding
This research was funded by the Irish Research Council Government of Ireland
Postdoctoral Fellowship. The first author is funded by the Marie Skłodowska-Curie
Actions COFUND Collaborative Research Fellowships for a Responsive and Innovative
Europe (CAROLINE). This work was also supported by the Qatar National Research Fund
(QNRF), a member of Qatar Foundation Doha, Qatar, National Priority Research Programs
(NPRP) under Grant (NPRP 5-1134-3-240) funded to Professor Muthanna Samara.
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Received 9 March 2018; revised version received 9 July 2019
Supporting Information
The following supporting information may be found in the online edition of the article:
Table S1. Mean scores and standard errors of SDQ, SDQ sub-scales and MFQ by overall
bullying involvement in various settings: sibling, peer and poly.
Table S2. Regression and HLM regression models 1 (school level only) and model 2 (all
predictors) for peer and sibling bullying: Unstandardized coefficients.
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... Comparative studies examining the links between child adjustment and bullying across different contexts simultaneously are relatively scarce. Existing studies, however, suggest that bullying across the sibling and peer context are associated with similar negative outcomes for children and adolescents in relation to sub-clinical emotional and behavior problems, as well as mental health problems including anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, and self-harm (Tucker et al., 2014;Dantchev et al., 2018;Foody et al., 2020). Contrary to this, findings on bullying across the peer and cyber context are inconsistent. ...
... An additional caveat of the current literature is that there are no previous studies that have explored the cumulative effects between all three bullying forms and child adjustment. Previous work has shown that children who are victimized by their siblings and peers are at a greater risk of developing poor mental health and suicidality (Tucker et al., 2014;Dantchev et al., 2018;Foody et al., 2020;Sharpe et al., 2021). Those who perpetrate bullying both at home and at school are more likely to display criminal behavior and engage in illicit drug use . ...
... This may seem counterintuitive and contradictory in the light of past research. However, the bullying literature has suggested that rather than bullying victimization per se being the leading risk factor for externalizing problems, it may be that the specific combination of becoming victimized and fighting back (i.e., the sub-group of bully-victims) that are driving the links (Wolke et al., 2013;Foody et al., 2020). However, the majority of studies have not included this specific sub-group of children and adolescents (Klomek et al., 2015) and thus the reasons remain speculative. ...
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Bullying across the sibling, peer, and cyber context has consistently been associated with a range of long-term health and well-being consequences for children and adolescents. Although research examining different bullying forms simultaneously in the same study are emerging, it remains unclear to what extend sibling, peer, and cyber bullying co-occur and in what ways they are associated. Moreover, previous work has demonstrated that children and adolescents who experience multiple forms of victimization are at a particular risk of adverse outcomes. However, whether different constellations of co-occurring bullying forms have differential impacts has not yet been investigated sufficiently. The aim of the present study was to examine the frequencies of isolated and co-occurring sibling, peer, and cyber bullying as well as to explore their independent and cumulative relationships with child adjustment. This study was based on a sample of 329 children and adolescents aged between 9 and 15. Bullying experiences across the sibling, peer, and cyber context in the previous 6 months were assessed via self-report. Youth further reported on emotional problems, conduct problems, sleep problems, and academic achievement via an online questionnaire. Sibling, peer, and cyber bullying were uniquely associated with child outcomes. A cumulative relationship between bullying victimization across contexts and emotional problems, conduct problems, and sleep problems could be identified, while bullying perpetration across contexts was only linked to more conduct problems in a cumulative manner. The findings have important practical implications arguing for the adoption of a holistic approach toward bullying in prevention and intervention.
... The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) considered cyberbullying as a global problem whereby one in 10 children worldwide have experienced it (UNESCO, 2019) as well as is reported among adults (Zalaquett & Chatters, 2014). It is well known that cyberbullying is a detriment to wellbeing (Foody, McGuire, et al., 2020;Hinduja & Patchin, 2008) and interpersonal relationships (Foody, Samara, et al., 2020;Peled, 2019). Cyberbullying has been reported across various digital environments such as social networking sites (Dredge et al., 2014), messaging services (Kashy-Rosenbaum & Aizenkot, 2020), and online gaming environments (McInroy & Mishna, 2017). ...
... Therefore, it is hypothesized that BTS fans' psychological sense of community will correlate with wellbeing (H1). While there has been plentiful research inquiry into the adverse influence of cyberbullying on interpersonal relationships (Davis & Koepke, 2016;Foody, McGuire, et al., 2020;Foody, Samara, et al., 2020;Huang et al., 2018;Spears et al., 2015;Varela et al., 2019) and as detriment to wellbeing (Foody, McGuire, et al., 2020;Hinduja & Patchin, 2008), there remains a paucity of research into the extent of cyberbullying and its role in the relationship between psychological sense of community and wellbeing. A moderation analysis can compute if cyberbullying victimization in some way changes the relationship between BTS fan psychological sense of community and wellbeing (H2). ...
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Adult fans of K‐Pop band BTS are part of a diverse and global fandom that has an evident psychological sense of community associated with psychosocial benefits such as increases in wellbeing. This study aimed to investigate if cyberbullying victimization plays an influential role in the relationship of BTS fans' psychological sense of community and wellbeing using an online co‐designed survey administered to 183 participants. There was a significant positive relationship found between psychological sense of community and wellbeing. The results of a moderation analysis were interpreted as cyberbullying victimization not having an influential role in this positive relationship, despite cyberbullying typically having detrimental effects on interpersonal relationships and communities generally. It was concluded that BTS fans' psychological sense of community may be buffering against the adverse consequences of cyberbullying victimization and/or competent anti‐cyberbullying and online safety practices are being carried out in online BTS fan communities. Implications for anti‐cyberbullying researchers and cyberbullying prevention efforts are also discussed.
... Literature on BPD and sibling relationships focuses more on how individuals experience the mental disorder of their siblings (e.g., Ntshingila et al., 2021). Bullying victimisation (Winsper et al., 2017) -including sibling bullying (Foody et al., 2020) -can contribute to the development of BPD in adolescents. Vulnerable narcissism in general is associated with high interpersonal distress, domineering, vindictive, cold, and socially avoidant interpersonal problems (Dickinson & Pincus, 2003;Miller et al., 2012). ...
... We already have some knowledge about VDT traits and its connection with adverse childhood experiences (Miller et al., 2010). For instance, similar to DT traits, negative family environment -including sibling bullying (Foody et al., 2020) -predict borderline personality disorder symptoms (Bradley et al., 2005), and childhood abuse is related to secondary psychopathy (Moreira et al., 2020). Harsh parenting (Horton et al., 2006) and being afraid of separation and rejection (Newberry, 2016) were found to be linked to vulnerable narcissism. ...
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Currently our understanding of environmental factors that influence the development of dark personality traits (DT) is limited. Therefore, we conducted three studies using online questionnaires, each examining a different aspect of the relation between dark personality traits and family environment. In Study 1, 117 adults (mean age: 30.36 years, SD = 10.19) filled out questionnaires regarding their childhood relationship with siblings and their own DT traits. We found that the amount of conflicts with siblings during adolescence correlated positively with Machiavellianism and psychopathy. The feeling of closeness towards the siblings showed negative correlation with Machiavellianism. Parental partiality towards the other sibling was positively correlated with narcissism. In Study 2, 111 adolescents (mean age: 15.92, SD = 1.24) reported their perceptions of the rearing style of their parents, in addition to their sibling relationships and DT traits. Perceived parental emotional warmth was negatively associated, whereas both rejection and overprotection were positively correlated with psychopathy. Parental warmth was positively, while rejection negatively associated with narcissism. Machiavellianism was positively associated with the amount of conflicts with siblings, but negatively with closeness to siblings. In Study 3, 110 adults (mean age: 32.62 years, SD = 12.25) reported their levels of the Vulnerable Dark Triad that included measures of primary and secondary psychopathy, maladaptive covert narcissism, and borderline personality organization. Results indicated that sibling relation quality had a significant effect on primary psychopathy and borderline traits. Parental rejection and overprotection correlated with borderline traits and vulnerable narcissism. The results of these studies shed some light on how environmental impulses, particularly the quality of relationships between family members, affect the development of personality.
... Involvement in sibling bullying comprises both the perpetration of sibling bullying (i.e., acting aggressively toward a sibling) as well as sibling victimization (i.e., being abused by a sibling; Dantchev & Wolke, 2019a). Many studies reported a positive association between these two roles in sibling bullying, revealing the reciprocal dimension of this form of abuse (Foody et al., 2019;Menesini et al., 2010;Wolke et al., 2015). Moreover, findings indicated that victims and aggressors are at higher risks of psychiatric symptoms (Bar-Zomer & Brunstein Klomek, 2018;Coyle et al., 2017;Dantchev & Wolke, 2019a;Dantchev et al., 2018;Foody et al., 2019;Toseeb et al., 2019). ...
... Many studies reported a positive association between these two roles in sibling bullying, revealing the reciprocal dimension of this form of abuse (Foody et al., 2019;Menesini et al., 2010;Wolke et al., 2015). Moreover, findings indicated that victims and aggressors are at higher risks of psychiatric symptoms (Bar-Zomer & Brunstein Klomek, 2018;Coyle et al., 2017;Dantchev & Wolke, 2019a;Dantchev et al., 2018;Foody et al., 2019;Toseeb et al., 2019). Consequently, both roles in sibling bullying should be considered (Dantchev & Wolke, 2019a). ...
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In this study, we tested a full structural model in which past involvement in sibling bullying mediates the relationships between, on the one hand, an intrusive parental style during conflicts between siblings and, on the other hand, current individual and family outcomes. The model under study is grounded in the coercion theory and the family system theory. A sample of 200 young adults, and their mothers, took part in the study. Results of structural equation modeling with four latent variables fit well the data. As hypothesized, an intrusive parental style during conflicts between siblings was related to higher levels of sibling bullying (including both perpetration and victimization) in childhood. Furthermore, young adults who were involved in sibling bullying as a child were now displaying less positive social problem-solving behaviors. Finally, past experiences of sibling bullying were related to current unkindness in the family.
... According to a systematic study, nearly 50% of children are involved in sibling bullying every month, and 16-20% experience sibling bullying several times a week (Menesini et al., 2011;Wolke and Skew, 2012). Though sibling bullying is usually considered by parents or researchers as a normal or harmless phenomenon (Kettrey and Emery, 2006;Dale et al., 2014), there is ample evidence to support that sibling bullying can predict a number of internalizing and externalizing problems in childhood or early adulthood, which include depression, anxiety, self-harm behavior, and even suicide (Bowes et al., 2014;Jasmin and Anat, 2018;Foody et al., 2020). Sibling bullying was associated with clinical diagnosis of depression and suicidal ideation as well as suicidal self-harm (Dantchev et al., 2019;Sharpe et al., 2021). ...
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Sibling bullying is the most common form of aggression within family worldwide, while the prevalence and correlations of sibling bullying is little known in China. The current research focused on the association between family factors and sibling bullying among Chinese adolescents, and explore sex differences in sibling bullying in the context of Chinese culture. A cross-sectional study was conducted to explore the characteristics of sibling bullying by sampling 6302 children and adolescents who had at least 1 sibling living in the household. Of the participants, 1827 (29.0%) were involved in sibling bullying over the past half year, and pure victims, pure bullies, and bully-victims were 486 (7.7%), 510 (8.1%), and 831 (13.2%), respectively. Family factors of sibling bullying were partly different between boys and girls. Parental absence of both father and mother was a risk factor of being a pure bully and a bully-victim for boys, and of being a pure victim for girls. Parental son preference increased the odds of being a pure victim and a bully-victim for boys, and of being all roles of sibling bullying involvement for girls. Besides, parent–parent violence, parent–child violence, and living with a single parent were risk factors of sibling bullying. The results underline the importance of home environment on sibling relationship, and intervention of sibling bullying should include improving family climate.
... It can have diverse negative effects on the health and well-being of victims (Arseneault, 2017;Boulton et al., 2008;Hawker & Boulton, 2000;Reijntes et al., 2010), bullies (Copeland et al., 2013;Cowie & Myers, 2017), and onlookers (Midgett & Doumas, 2019;Rivers, 2012). Previous cross-sectional studies have reported how involvement in bullying can lead to serious adverse outcomes, such as increased suicidal ideation (Hinduja & Patchin, 2019), higher levels of social anxiety (Hawker & Boulton, 2000), and depression (Foody et al., 2020). These outcomes of school bullying not only occur within childhood experiences, but also through into adulthood (Zych et al., 2015), suggesting that it may precipitate adverse later life outcomes (Arseneault et al., 2010). ...
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In tackling the widespread problem of bullying victimisation, researchers have acknowledged the value of focusing on changing bullying-related beliefs and using peer-based interventions. In three studies (N = 419, 237 intervention and 182 controls), we tested the effectiveness of the CATZ cross-age teaching programme by inviting small groups of 11-year-olds to incorporate information supporting positive beliefs (concerning non-physical forms of bullying, the value of disclosing being bullied to adults, and helping victims) into a lesson they devised for themselves and to deliver that to small groups of 9-year-olds. Specifically, we examined if the intervention would promote that (i) non-physical forms of bullying are unacceptable (study 1), (ii) disclosing bullying to adults and getting the right kind of help have value and importance (study 2), and (iii) victims can be assisted in safe ways (study 3). Self-reports of nine specific aspects of these beliefs were collected from CATZ tutors and age-matched controls prior to and following the intervention, and at five-week follow-up in one study, using both open and closed questions. Results indicated significant positive effects of CATZ on all nine outcome variables, with mostly medium and high effect sizes. These findings support the use of CATZ to foster positive anti-bullying beliefs, and issues related to its wider uptake are discussed.
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The closure of academic institutions as a result of preventative measures towards the distribution of COVID-19 has impacted the academic sector. The approach of switching learning technique to an online structure has currently turned out to be part of several academic organizations around the globe. The purpose of this particular research is to investigate and identify the issues faced by female teacher-students associated towards the situations induced because of e-education system in Pakistan and Turkey. This particular study followed the qualitative research approach. For the collection of data, semi-structured selection interviews were utilized with 10 female teachers and 10 female students from public and private universities in Pakistan and Turkey. In accordance with the results of this research, the following issues are confronted by female instructors: cyberbullying, lack of discipline in class, harassment of female students, as well as lack of technological equipment.
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Background Peer bullying is associated with internalizing problems for children and adolescents. However, less is known about how these same behaviors are related to student well-being when they occur within the context of the sibling relationship and how supportive behavior may benefit those experiencing bullying. Objective The purpose of this study was to examine the unique associations among peer and sibling bullying and internalizing problems, and the role of peer and sibling social support in relation to social-emotional outcomes. Methods Data on students’ experiences of peer and sibling bullying, perceptions of social support and internalizing symptoms were collected from a sample of 372 elementary school students using the Revised Olweus Bully/Victim Questionnaire (OBVQ; Olweus 1996), a modified version of the OBVQ created to assess bullying by siblings, the Child and Adolescent Social Support Scale (CASSS; Malecki et al. 2000), and three subscales from the Behavior Assessment System for Children, Second Edition, Self-Report of Personality (Reynolds and Kamphaus 2004). Results Results indicated that Sibling Bullying was significantly related to internalizing problems above and beyond Peer Bullying alone. Additionally, social support from peers moderated the association between Sibling Bullying and Depression; and social support from siblings moderated the association between Peer Bullying and Social Stress. Gender differences in study findings were also uncovered. Conclusions Results of this study suggest that bullying behaviors are detrimental to student social-emotional well-being, regardless of whom the perpetrator may be, and that being bullied by siblings is associated with similar outcomes as traditional bullying.
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Background: Bullying research has gained a substantial amount of interest in recent years because of the implications for child and adolescent development. Aim and sample: We conducted a meta-analysis of traditional and cyberbullying studies in the Republic and North of Ireland to gain an understanding of prevalence rates and associated issues (particularly psychological correlates and intervention strategies) among young people (primary and secondary school students). Method: Four electronic databases were searched (PsychArticles, ERIC, PsychInfo and Education Research Complete) for studies of traditional bullying and cyberbullying behaviours (perpetrators, victims or both) published between January 1997 and April 2016. Results: A final sample of 39 articles fit our selection criteria. CMA software was used to estimate a pooled prevalence rate for traditional/cyberbullying victimization and perpetration. A systematic review on the psychological impacts for all types of bullying and previously used interventions in an Irish setting is also provided. Conclusions: The results demonstrate the influence moderating factors (e.g., assessment tools, answer scale, time frame) have on reported prevalence rates. These results are discussed in light of current studies, and points for future research are considered.
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Background: Developmental theories for the aetiology of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) suggest that both individual features (e.g., childhood dysregulated behaviour) and negative environmental experiences (e.g., maladaptive parenting, peer victimisation) may lead to the development of BPD symptoms during adolescence. Few prospective studies have examined potential aetiological pathways involving these two factors. Method: We addressed this gap in the literature using data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). We assessed mother-reported childhood dysregulated behaviour at 4, 7 and 8 years using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ); maladaptive parenting (maternal hitting, punishment, and hostility) at 8 to 9 years; and bully victimisation (child and mother report) at 8, 9 and 10 years. BPD symptoms were assessed at 11 years using the UK Childhood Interview for DSM-IV BPD. Control variables included adolescent depression (assessed with the Short Moods and Feelings Questionnaire-SMFQ) and psychotic symptoms (assessed with the Psychosis-Like Symptoms Interview-PLIKS) at 11 to 14 years, and mother's exposure to family adversity during pregnancy (assessed with the Family Adversity Scale-FAI). Results: In unadjusted logistic regression analyses, childhood dysregulated behaviour and all environmental risk factors (i.e., family adversity, maladaptive parenting, and bully victimisation) were significantly associated with BPD symptoms at 11 years. Within structural equation modelling controlling for all associations simultaneously, family adversity and male sex significantly predicted dysregulated behaviour across childhood, while bully victimisation significantly predicted BPD, depression, and psychotic symptoms. Children displaying dysregulated behaviour across childhood were significantly more likely to experience maladaptive parenting (β = 0.075, p < 0.001) and bully victimisation (β = 0.327, p < 0.001). Further, there was a significant indirect association between childhood dysregulated behaviour and BPD symptoms via an increased risk of bullying (β = 0.097, p < 0.001). While significant indirect associations between dysregulated behaviour, bully victimisation and depression (β = 0.063, p < 0.001) and psychotic (β = 0.074, p < 0.001) outcomes were also observed, the indirect association was significantly stronger for the BPD outcome (BPD - depression = 0.034, p < 0.01; BPD - psychotic symptoms = 0.023, p < 0.01). Conclusions: Childhood dysregulated behaviour is associated with BPD in early adolescence via an increased risk of bully victimisation. This suggests that childhood dysregulation may influence the risk of bully victimisation, which in turn influences the development of BPD. Effective interventions should target dysregulated behaviour early on to reduce exposure to environmental risks and the subsequent development of BPD.
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