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Study finds sibling bullying also ups depression, anxiety, anger

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Researchers say they are getting a better understanding of just how damaging bullying can be, and a new study found sibling bullying can be just as bad for a child's emotional development.

Owen Solberg is the oldest of five boys, and his mom is used to a little sibling rivalry; however, she works hard to make sure any conflict between her kids isn't mean-spirited.

"We don't call names to each other because that's tearing your sibling, your brother, down," she said. "That's not the kind of family we want to be."

In a new study published in the Journal Pediatrics, researches at the University of New Hampshire found victims of bullying at the hands of their brothers or sisters are much more likely to be depressed, anxious or angry -- but they do make a distinction between bullying and inter-sibling spats.

Sibling bullying is defined as physical abuse, breaking or stealing toys, and psychological abuse -- including name-calling or excluding a sibling. Researchers say those activities could be just as damaging as bullying at school.

"I think it could be even more so," said Stephanie Hartman. "There's someone there who is supposed to love you and care about you and support you. When they are in a position to see your weakest points and highlight them, then I think it can be really damaging."

Parents are urged to look out for bullying behaviors and intervene -- especially if it seems like a one-way street, with one sibling acting as the consistent perpetrator and the other the consistent victim who no longer fights back.

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