Victims of sibling bullying ‘more likely to be depressed’

Have your say

Fights and rows among siblings may be a common occurrence but could lead to serious consequences in later life, new research has claimed.

Children who are frequently bullied by their brothers or sisters are more likely to be depressed and even self harm in early adulthood, experts found. Researchers said that being the victim of bullying by peers is associated with an increased risk of psychological problems and wanted to assess whether the same impact was noted if a person’s sibling or siblings were the perpetrators.

They examined data from youngsters from the UK who said they were the victims of sibling bullying when they were aged 12 and assessed them when they were 18.

Children frequently bullied by their siblings are twice as likely to have depression as young adults, according to the researchers from the Universities of Oxford, Warwick and Bristol and University College London.

They were also twice as likely to say they had self-harmed within the previous year compared with those who had not been bullied.

If the figures were extrapolated, sibling bullying could account for 13 per cent of depression and 19 per cent of self harm among 18-year-olds.

Lead author Dr Lucy Bowes, from the University of Oxford, said: “Victims of sibling bullying are offered little escape as sibling relationships endure throughout development.”