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Emerging Ideas: Is sibling aggression as scary as peer aggression in childhood and adolescence?

NCJ Number
Family Relations Volume: Online Dated: 2023
Corinna Jenkins Tucker; David Finkelhor; Heather Turner
Date Published

This article reports on a research study that examined how the frequency of fearfulness for sibling aggression compares with peer victimization in childhood and adolescence.


The authors compared the frequency of fearfulness for sibling versus peer victimization experiences (severe and minor physical, property, and psychological) in childhood and adolescence. Sibling aggression is not recognized as a childhood adversity. Yet a tenet of the family violence literature is that abuse is more fearsome when living with an abuser. Telephone interviews were conducted with parents of children aged 1 to 9 years and with adolescents 10 to 17 years old living with a juvenile sibling (N = 7,029; 49% female) using data from three combined surveys of the National Survey on Children's Exposure to Violence. Fear of sibling aggression was less common than peer aggression. Further, sibling aggression was less fearful than peer aggression for severe and minor physical and property episodes. There was little variation by gender, ethnicity, and parent education level. Children and adolescents do not lack fear from sibling aggression, but the fear is lower than for peer aggression. A prevalent idea in the family violence literature that living with an offender generates more fear was not supported for sibling aggression. (Published Abstract Provided)