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Sibling Bullies, Much Worse Than People Thought -Study.

RESEARCH has shown that sibling relationships play an important role in child development. It is one of the most enduring relationships and is characterised by closeness, cooperation, conflict and play.

Now researchers are warning that where sibling relationship is not characterised by harassment at home, it could leave a lasting effect. They linked harassment at home to higher levels of depression and anxiety, not only during the period in which the bullying took place but later in life.

While a burly kid outside of the home may be the stereotype of a childhood bully, the study suggested that the most damaging bullies are those who tease, make fun of and physically hurt their brothers and sisters.

Bullying, the study defined as 'acts such as name-calling, being made fun of, as well as more physical acts of violence, like being hit or kicked'.

Dr Tony Marinho, in his 20th annual Benjamin Oluwakayode Osuntokun Memorial Lecture, entitled: 'Brain Paradox: Knowledge about nothing, nothing about knowledge' described bullying as a brain paradox that can have an impact on self or others.

According to him: 'Bullying is no joke, but a dangerous, sometimes, lifelong yoke! It is now known that 50 per cent of the adult mental health problems originated from environmental and societal conditions occurring before the age of 15, while 70 per cent occur before the age of 18.

'Bullying effects can last forever. About 64 per cent of those who were lonely were bullied as children. Bullies in childhood will continue to bully throughout their adult lives.'

Bullying has received tremendous attention in recent years. Though there is no universal definition of childhood bullying, the term is often used to describe when a child repeatedly and deliberately says or does things that cause distress to another child, or when a child attempts to force another child to do something against their will by using threats, violence or intimidation.

But there's been much less research into bullying among siblings. In the new study, the researchers examined the results of studies of over 2,000 people in the United Kingdom. They were surveyed via questionnaire in 2003 and 2004 at an average age of 12 and then answered a survey again at the age of 18.

According to the study published in the journal, Paediatrics, youngsters who were bullied by siblings were more than twice as likely to report depression or self-harm at age 18 as those who weren't bullied by siblings. They were also nearly twice as likely to report anxiety as they entered adulthood.

Although the study only found an association and doesn't prove that these factors resulted directly from sibling bullying, they suggested that interventions to reduce sibling bullying would improve children's mental health in the longer term. There is little opportunity for victims to escape from bullies when the tormentor is a sibling.

However, the researchers didn't look at whether any of the victims were also bullies themselves and whether that factor could have affected their later mental health.

Previously, experts warn that victims of bullying have 'poorer health, lower income, lower quality of life' as adults. Even when factors such as childhood IQ, emotional and behavioural problems, parents' socioeconomic status and low parental involvement were taken into account, the association remained between bullying and negative social, physical and mental health outcomes.

Certainly, many people know very little about what might help stop bullying. However, studies on school bullying suggested that parents can support their children by listening to them and providing warmth and support. This can help both victims and bullies alike.
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Publication:Nigerian Tribune (Oyo State, Nigeria)
Date:Feb 16, 2019
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