Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 113–120 | Cite as

An Exploration of the Relationship between Experiences with Sibling Abuse and Peer Bullying: a Pilot Study

  • Mandy Morrill
  • Curt Bachman
  • Brittany Polisuk
  • Katie Kostelyk
  • Stephanie Wilson


This paper uses peer reviewed research and a comprehensive literature review to highlight some of connections and similarities between experience with sibling abuse and experience with peer bullying. Specifically, an altered version of the Conflict Tactics Scale (Straus Journal of Marriage and the Family, 41, 75-88, 1979) was used to empirically explore the potential relationship between experience with peer bullying as a survivor or perpetrator, and experience with sibling abuse as a survivor or perpetrator. The results of Person's product moment correlations indicate there is a significant relationship between surviving sibling abuse and surviving peer bullying, as well as perpetrating sibling abuse and perpetrating peer bullying. In addition to a discussion of the details of the study conducted, clinical considerations for interventions, training, research and prevention are discussed.


Sibling abuse Peer bullying Familial violence Trauma Child abuse 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000. Informed consent was obtained from all patients for being included in the study.

Conflict of Interest



  1. Ammerman, R., & Hersen, M. (1991). Case studies in family violence. New York: Plenum Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Baly, M. W., Cornell, D. G., & Lovegrove, P. (2014). a longitudinal investigation of self- and peer reports of bullying victimization across middle school. Psychology in the Schools, 51(3), 217–240. doi: 10.1002/pits.21747.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Batsche, G., & Knoff, H. (1994). Bullies and their victims: Understanding a pervasive problem in the schools. School Psychology Review, 23, 165–175 Retrieved from Scholar
  4. Bell, K., & Guimond, J. (2012). The impact of child abuse history, PTSD symptoms, and anger arousal on dating violence perpetration among college women. Journal of Family Violence, 27(3), 165–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bess, B. E., & Janssen, Y. (1982). Incest: A pilot study. The Hillside Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 4, 39–52.Google Scholar
  6. Caffaro, J., & Conn-Caffaro, A. (1998). Sibling abuse trauma. New York: Haworth Maltreatment and Trauma Press.Google Scholar
  7. Caffaro, J., & Conn-Caffaro, A. (2005). Treating sibling abuse families. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 10, 604–623.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Caspi, J. (2011). Sibling aggression: Assessment and treatment. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  9. Dardis, C. M., Dixon, K. J., Edwards, K. M., & Turchik, J. A. (2015). An examination of the factors related to dating violence perpetration among young men and women and associated theoretical explanations: A review of the literature. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 16(2), 136–152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Duncan, R. D. (1999). Peer and Sibling Aggression. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 14(8), 871–886.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Finger, L., Marsh, H., Craven, R., & Parada, R. (2005). Strengthening anti-bullying research: An investigation into the misuse of dichotomous variables. Paper presented at the Australian Association for Research in Education Conference, Parramatta, Australia. Retrieved from
  12. Goodwin, M. P., & Roscoe, B. (1990). Sibling violence and agonistic interactions among middle adolescents. Adolescence, 25, 451–467.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Gomez, A. (2011). Testing the cycle of violence hypothesis: Child abuse and adolescent dating violence as predictors of intimate partner violence in young adulthood. Youth Society, 43(1), 171–192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hazler, R. J., Hoover, J. H., & Oliver, R. (1992). What kids say about bullying. The Executive Educator, 28(2), 20–22 Retrieved from Scholar
  15. Hoetger, L., Hazen, E., & Brank, E. (2015). All in the family: A retrospective study comparing sibling bullying and peer bullying. Journal of Family Violence, 30(1), 103–111. doi: 10.1007/s10896-014-9651-0.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Holt, M., Kantor, G., & Finkelhor, D. (2009). Parent/child concordance about bullying involvement & family characteristics related to bullying & peer victimization. Journal of School Violence, 8(1), 42–63. doi: 10.1080/15388220802067813.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Johnston, C., & Freeman, W. (1989). Parent training interventions for sibling conflict. In M. James (Ed.), Handbook of parent training: Parents as co-therapists for children's behavior problems (2nd ed., pp. 153–176). New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc..Google Scholar
  18. Keith, S., & Martin, M. (2005). Cyber-bullying: Creating a culture of respect in a cyber world. Reclaiming Children and Youth, 13(4), 224–228 Retrieved from Scholar
  19. Kiselica, M., & Morrill-Richards, M. (2007). Sibling maltreatment: The forgotten abuse. Journal of Counseling & Development, 85, 148–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Liem, J. H., & Boudewyn, A. C. (1999). Contextualizing the effects of childhood sexual abuse on adult self- and social functioning: An attachment theory perspective. Child Abuse and Neglect, 23, 1141–1157.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Morrill, M., & Bachman, C. (2013). Confronting the gender myth: An exploration of variance in male versus female experience with sibling abuse. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 28, 1693–1709.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Morrill-Richards, M. M. (2009). The influence of sibling abuse on interpersonal relationships and self-esteem in college students (doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from PsychInfo (AAI3370276).Google Scholar
  23. Morrill-Richards, M., & Leierer, S. (2010). The relationship between sibling maltreatment and college students’ sense of well-being. Journal of College Counseling, 12, 17–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Morrill, M. M. (2014). Sibling Sexual Abuse: An Exploratory Study of Long-term Consequences for Self-esteem and Counseling Considerations. Journal of Family Violence, 29(2), 205–213.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Nansel, T., Overpeck, M., Pilla, R., Ruan, W., Simons-Morton, B., & Scheidt, P. (2001). Bullying behaviors among US youth: Prevalence and association with psychosocial adjustment. JAMA, 285(16), 2094–2100. doi: 10.1001/jama.285.16.2094.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  26. Olweus, D. (1999). Sweden. In P. K. Smith, Y. Morita, J. Junger-Tas, D. Olweus, R. Catalano, & P. Slee (Eds.), The nature of school bullying: A cross-national Perspective (pp. 7–27). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  27. Phillips-Green, M. J. (2002). Sibling incest. Family Journal: Counseling and Therapy for Couples and Families, 10, 195–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Rapoza, K., Cook, K., & Zaveri, T. (2010). Ethnic perspectives on sibling abuse in the United States. Journal of Family Issues, 31(6), 808–829. doi: 10.1177/0192513X09359158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Renda, J., Vassallo, S., & Edwards, B. (2011). Bullying in early adolescence and its association with anti-social behavior, criminality and violence 6 and 10 years later. Criminal Behavior and Mental Health, 21(2), 117–127. doi: 10.1002/cbm.805.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Rigby, K. (2002). New perspectives on bullying. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.Google Scholar
  31. Roberts, S., Zhang, J., & Truman, J. (2010). Indicators of school crime and safety: 2010. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education, and Bureau of Justice Statistics, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice Retrieved from Scholar
  32. Seiler, S. J., & Navarro, J. N. (2014). Bullying on the pixel playground: Investigating risk factors of cyberbullying at the intersection of children’s online-offline social lives. Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace, 8(4).Google Scholar
  33. Smith, P. K. (2004). Bullying: Recent Developments. Child and Adolescent Mental Health, 9(3), 98–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Snyder, J., Bank, L., & Burraston, B. (2005). The consequences of antisocial behavior in older male siblings for younger brothers and sisters. Journal of Family Psychology.Special Issue: Sibling Relationship Contributions to Individual and Family Well-being, 19, 643–653.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Straus, M. A. (1979). Measuring intrafamily conflict and violence: The conflict tactics (CT) scales. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 41, 75–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Straus, M. A., Gelles, R. J., & Steinmetz, S. K. (1980). Behind closed doors. New York: Doubleday.Google Scholar
  37. Straus, M. A., & Gelles, R. J. (1990). How violent are American families? Estimates from the national family violence resurvey and other studies. In M. S. Staus & R. J. Gelles (Eds.), Physical violence in American families: Risk factors and adaptations to violence in 8,145 families (pp. 95–112). New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers.Google Scholar
  38. Tippett, N., & Wolke, D. (2015). Aggression between siblings: Associations with the home environment and peer bullying. Aggressive Behavior, 41(1), 14–24. doi: 10.1002/ab.21557.
  39. Tucker, C., Finkelhor, D., Turner, H., & Shattuck, A. (2013). Association of sibling aggression with child and adolescent mental health. Pediatrics, 132(1), 79–84. doi: 10.1542/peds.2012-3801.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. Vaillancourt, T., McDougall, P., Hymel, S., Krygsman, A., Miller, J., et al. (2008). Bullying: Are researchers and children/youth talking about the same thing? International Journal of Behavioral Development, 32(6), 486–495. doi: 10.1177/0165025408095553.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Whitted, K., & Dupper, D. (2005). Best practices for preventing or reducing bullying in schools. Children & Schools, 27(3), 167–175. doi: 10.1093/cs/27.3.167.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Wiehe, V. R. (1990). Sibling abuse: Hidden physical, emotional, and sexual trauma. Lexington: Lexington Books.Google Scholar
  43. Wiehe, V. R. (1997). Sibling abuse. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  44. Wiehe, V. R. (1998). Understanding family violence. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  45. Wiehe, V. R. (2000). Sibling abuse. In H. Henderson (Ed.), Domestic violence and child abuse resource sourcebook (pp. 409–492). Detroit: Omnigraphics.Google Scholar
  46. Wolke, D., & Skew, A. J. (2012). Bullying among siblings. International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health, 24(1), 17–25.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Valparaiso UniversityValparaisoUSA
  2. 2.Andrews UniversityBerrien SpringsUSA

Personalised recommendations