Parents May Unknowingly Brush Off Problem Behavior As A 'Sibling Rivalry'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Bullying at school is a big concern for many parents, but according to new research harmful bullying could be taking place in your own home.

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A recent study published in the journal Pediatrics claimed that bullying that goes on at home can be just as damaging to a child’s mental well-being as bullying that comes at the hands of one’s peers.

A big part of the problem is that it may be difficult for parents to identify bullying, even if it is happening right under their own noses.

“You expect it out of siblings, so you have more bandwith,” Tina Buckenmeyer told CBS 2’s Emily Smith on Monday.

Experts told CBS 2 that parents shouldn’t brush off bullying between siblings, and cautioned that it could be a cry for help from the bully.

“That will lead them through their entire lives, that anger and bitterness will stay with them,” said Dr. Anna Renee Testa, a relationship psychologist.

It isn’t always the older sibling doing the bullying. Stone Abramson, 12, said that his younger sister makes him feel unsafe at home and insecure at school.

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“She makes up stories about me and it’s not nice. I’m really hurt by it,” he said. “I’d really appreciate it if she’d stop, but we all know that’s not going to happen.”

Abramson’s mother, Erika Kattz, a parenting expert and author, said that she tolerates some of it because she sees conflict as a valuable learning experience, but makes sure that lines aren’t crossed.

“Someone saying ‘you’re stupid, a moron, or not pretty,’ things like that can really affect the self-esteem,” she said.

Testa said that the first step in stopping bullying at home is for parents to acknowledge that it is wrong. What may appear to be a sibling rivalry could be taking a significant toll on a child’s well-being.

Researchers also found that even mild sibling aggression was associated with significantly high-distress symptoms among children and adolescents.

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