Playground Politics at Home: Child Maltreatment and Sibling Violence

  • Paul R. Smokowski
  • Caroline B. R. Evans


This chapter applies the three central definitional components of bullying (i.e., repetition, power imbalance, and intent to harm) to child maltreatment and ongoing and intense sibling conflicts within the home. Powerless infants, toddlers, young children, and adolescents can become victims of bullying in their own homes, arguably causing more long-term trauma than any other experience across the life span. Research on victimization by parents and adult caretakers is reviewed. Power dynamics between siblings are also discussed. An overview of both of these phenomena including definitions, prevalence rates, economic cost, demographic characteristics, and negative developmental impacts is included. Then we discuss child maltreatment and ongoing and intense sibling conflict through the bullying framework, which is an innovative addition to the bullying literature, as the currently accepted definitions of bullying fail to identify ongoing, negative family dynamics as bullying. We argue that certain family dynamics can and should be defined as bullying.


Sibling violence Child abuse Child maltreatment 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul R. Smokowski
    • 1
  • Caroline B. R. Evans
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Social WelfareUniversity of KansasLawrenceUSA
  2. 2.Rhode Island CollegeProvidenceUSA

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