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All in the Family: A Retrospective Study Comparing Sibling Bullying and Peer Bullying

Abstract

Extensive bullying research has primarily focused on activities between peers in school settings, but some evidence suggests bullying may occur in other situations. If so, other contexts could potentially benefit from the wealth of peer bullying research. A sample of 392 young adults answered questions about their experiences with sibling and peer bullying behaviors. Participants also provided responses concerning a sibling or peer vignette that focused on reporting bullying behaviors. Results indicated that participants view bullying behaviors between peers and siblings as somewhat similar, but sibling bullying behaviors compared to peer bullying behaviors are reported to be perpetrated and experienced more often. When considering a hypothetical situation such sibling bullying behaviors, however, are less likely to be reported outside the family than peer bullying behaviors. Additionally, females are more likely than males to report outside the family. Participants who had more prior involvement in bullying are less likely to say they would report the described sibling bullying behaviors. Considering sibling bullying may not be thought of as bullying and may not be reported outside the family, implications for policy and future research are discussed.

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Acknowledgments

The authors would first like to thank the people in their lives who have taught them the most about sibling relationships: Lisa, Abby, Emily, Megan, and Beth. The authors would also like to thank the following graduate and undergraduate students from the Law and Policy Lab who provided assistance on this project: Leroy Scott, Lindsey Wylie, Josh Haby, Janae Bonsu, Amy Peters, Faith Harvey, Ronesha Hoagland, Blaze Owens, and Liz Kneifl. Partial funding for the second author was through a Research Experience for Undergraduates grant from the National Science Foundation.

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Correspondence to Lori A. Hoetger.

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Hoetger, L.A., Hazen, K.P. & Brank, E.M. All in the Family: A Retrospective Study Comparing Sibling Bullying and Peer Bullying. J Fam Viol 30, 103–111 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10896-014-9651-0

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Keywords

  • Sibling
  • Bullying
  • Family violence
  • Retrospective
  • Adolescents