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School Bullies Bully At Home, Too

by The Kid's Doctor Staff

Research shows that children who bully at school are likely to also bully their siblings at home.

While the results may not sound surprising, they do help give the matter some perspective.

The study involved 195 European children ages 10 to 12. Each had a sibling no more than four years older or younger than them. Children were given questionnaires that asked whether they were a victim of bullying, or bullied their peers at school, and whether they were a victim of bullying by a sibling or bullied a sibling at home.

“Children with older male siblings were the most victimized group,” said Ersilia Menesini of the Universita’ degli Studi di Firenze, Italy.

Significantly more boys than girls said they bullied their sibling – who was most likely to be younger than them. It’s likely that this form of sibling bullying is all about maintaining a position of dominance, the researchers figure.

“However, for girls, bullying is mainly related to a poor quality of sibling relationship and not to birth order,” Menesini said. “In fact, high levels of conflict and low levels of empathy were significantly related to sibling bullying and sibling victimization.”

Children who bullied siblings were likely to bully their peers, while victims at home were likely to also be victimized at school.

“It is not possible to tell from our study which behavior comes first, but it is likely that if children behave in a certain way at home, bullying a sibling for instance, if this behavior goes unchecked they may take this behavior into school,” Menesini said.

The behavior doesn’t necessarily end with growing up. Other studies have documented significant bullying in the workplace.

The results were published in the British Journal of Developmental Psychology.

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One Response to “School Bullies Bully At Home, Too”

  1. Victoria says:

    This is a major problem among our youth. I work with children and see bullying often. Many times the children who are the bullies, do not recognize their behavior as such. In their minds, they are “just playing” with the other child.

    I often have to talk out the situation with the offending child more than once before he/she begins to change the behaviors.

    Regardless, as your post indicates, I am not surprised that this is seen in the home first. I think many parents do not realize how simple and small acts of picking on sibilings can lead to harmful habits for life.
    Thanks for sharing.

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