Learn More

Siblings fighting

Definitions- There are a variety of terms used by researchers, clinicians, and organizations to refer to sibling aggression and abuse, including bullying, rivalry, violence, perpetration, and victimization. For the sake of clarity, we list definitions below of aggression, abuse, and sexual abuse.

Aggression means intention to cause physical or psychological harm to a sibling and includes hitting, attacking, denigrating, humiliating, and destroying possessions and property.

Abuse means an ongoing pattern of aggression by a sibling with more power that causes evident harm or a strong likelihood of harm.

Sexual abuse means sexual activities with a sibling that are unwanted or involve a considerable developmental or age difference.

Siblings can be perpetrators as well as victims of such acts with the same sibling.1 

Single sibling aggression episodes are linked with lower mental health in childhood and adolescence.2

1 Wolke, D., Tippett, N., & Dantchev, S. (2015). Bullying in the family: Sibling bullying. The Lancet Psychiatry, 2 (10), 917-929.  

2 Tucker, C.J., Finkelhor, D., Turner, H., & Shattuck, A. (2013). Association of sibling aggression

with child and adolescent mental health. Pediatrics, 132, 79-84.