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Victimization by Siblings in Children with Disability or Weight Problems

Tucker, Corinna J. PhD*; Finkelhor, David PhD; Turner, Heather PhD

Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics: July/August 2017 - Volume 38 - Issue 6 - p 378–384
doi: 10.1097/DBP.0000000000000456
Original Articles
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Objective: 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.

Methods: 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.

Results: 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.

Conclusion: 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.

*Human Development and Family Studies Department;

Sociology Department, Crimes Against Children Research Center, Durham, NH;

Sociology Department, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH.

Address for reprints: Corinna J. Tucker, PhD, Department of Human Development and Family Studies, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH 03824; e-mail: cjtucker@unh.edu.

For the purposes of compliance with section 507 of Public Law 104 to 208 (Stevens Amendment), readers are advised that 100% of the funds for this program are derived from federal sources (this project was supported by grant 2006-JW-BX-0003 awarded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Office of Justice Programs, US Department of Justice) to the second and third authors. Support was also provided by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention through an interagency agreement with the Department of Justice. Points of view or opinions in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the US Department of Justice or the CDC.

Disclosure: The authors declare no conflict of interest.

See related video abstract at jdbp.org.

Received September 26, 2016

Accepted April 10, 2017

Copyright © 2017 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.