Children with a physical disability, psychological disorder, or of nonnormative weight are often targets of peer victimization. Sibling victimization, however, is more common than peer victimization, but rarely explored. We investigated linkages between sibling victimization and whether children had a physical disability, psychological disorder (i.e., internalizing disorder, attention deficit disorder/attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder), and were perceived by parents as being thinner than average or overweight. Also, we explored how the extent and kinds of sibling victimization experiences were related to these characteristics in childhood.
A US probability sample of adult caregivers of a child aged 0 to 9 (N = 780; 50% women; mean age 4.58) in 2-child households who completed a telephone interview.
Controlling for other forms of maltreatment and individual and family characteristics, children with a physical disability and parent-perceived children who are thinner than average and children who are overweight experienced more sibling victimization. Children with an internalizing disorder experienced less sibling victimization. Sibling victimization did not differ for children with and without ADHD. Children perceived to be overweight by parents and children with a physical disability were at increased risk of experiencing more types of sibling victimization. Children with a physical disability had greater odds of being victims of property victimization by a sibling.
Children with a physical disability or perceived as different from average weight are at risk for sibling victimization. Using a nationally representative sample, this is the first study to highlight the importance of screening for sibling victimization in families of children with a disability and/or nonnormative weight status.