Is Sibling Bullying As Damaging As Peer Bullying?

The issue of bullying  in schools and more recently in cyber space, have caused officials, parents, and concerned parties to take strong measures to help stop the relentless harassment  many students endure. One form of bullying rarely discussed is the type that occurs  among siblings, which many parents think is just a “normal rite of passage”. However, recent studies show that sibling bullying can have traumatic effects that last well into adulthood.

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key.

Bullying Siblings. Photo- The Winding Ascent.

Bullying Siblings. Photo- The Winding Ascent.

Excerpt: When the Bully Is a Sibling  By Anahad  O’Connor, The New York Times

“Siblings have been bickering and trading blows since the time of Cain and Abel. But the torment and fighting that is often shrugged off as normal sibling rivalry may not always be so benign.

Giuseppe Vermiglio, Cain and Abel, early 17th century.

Giuseppe Vermiglio, Cain and Abel, early 17th century.

New research suggests that even when there are no physical scars, aggression between siblings can inflict psychological wounds as damaging as the anguish caused by bullies at school or on the playground. The findings offer an unusual look at an area of family life that has rarely been studied, in part because infighting among brothers and sisters is widely considered a harmless rite of passage.

5 tips to manage sibling rivalry. Photo- Focus forward.

5 tips to manage sibling rivalry. Photo- Focus forward.

 The new study, which involved thousands of children and adolescents around the country, found that those who were attacked, threatened or intimidated by a sibling had increased levels of depression, anger and anxiety.

Corinna Jenkins Tucker, the lead author of the study, which was published in the journal Pediatrics, said that behaviors among siblings that cross the line into abuse deserve more recognition…There appears to be different norms of acceptability. Peer aggression is unacceptable, but it’s not the same for siblings.

Verbal Abuse can damage. Photo- Mothering.

Verbal Abuse can damage. Photo- Mothering.

Dr. Tucker said that the growing number of programs and public service announcements aimed at stopping bullying and violence in schools and other settings should include a focus on sibling relationships as well.

Sibling Abuse Trauma By John V. Caffaro. Amazon

Sibling Abuse Trauma By John V. Caffaro. Amazon

 John V. Caffaro, a clinical psychologist and the author of “Sibling Abuse Trauma” [stated] Parents who fail to intervene, play favorites or give their children labels that sow divisions — like “the smart one” and “the athlete” — can inadvertently encourage conflict.

Nationwide, sibling violence is by far the most common form of family violence, occurring four to five times as frequently as spousal or parental child abuse, Dr. Caffaro said…Our society tends to minimize child-on-child violence in general. We have these ideas that if you’re hurt by a child it’s less injurious than if you’re hurt by an adult, but the data don’t support that.

But the new research, conducted through interviews with children and their parents, measured the impact of a broad range of violence. It looked at physical assaults with and without weapons and the destruction or stealing of property, as well as threats, name-calling and other forms of psychological intimidation.

Catherine Bradshaw, an expert on bullying and the deputy director of the Center for the Prevention of Youth Violence at Johns Hopkins University, said the study was impressive in its scope and scale, and noted that it showed that all types of sibling aggression, from mild to severe, were associated with worse mental health. “ Read more… 

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

Level: Intermediate -Advanced

Language Skills: Reading, writing, speaking and listening. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.

Time: Approximately 2 hours.

Materials: Student handouts (from this lesson) access to news article, and video.

Objective: Students will read the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic of sibling bullying  through discussions and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

KWL Chart

Directions: Have students use the KWL chart to list the information they already know about “ sibling bullying”.  Have them list information that they would like to learn about bullying. Later in the Post- Reading segment of the lesson, students can fill in what they’ve learned about the topic. Have students use this new K-W-L chart from ReadWriteThink.

New K-W-L Chart from Read Write Think

II. While Reading Activities

Synonyms

Directions: have students choose the synonyms (the words closest in meaning) for the words in bold. Students can use the Vocabulary Word Cluster Chart by Freeology as a guide.

Sentences

1. Siblings have been bickering and trading blows since the time of Cain and Abel.

a. argue

b. joke

c. sing

2. But the torment and fighting may not always be so benign.

a. dangerous

b. kind

c. angry

3. New research suggests that even when there are no physical scars, aggression between siblings can inflict psychological wounds.

a. calm behavior

b. violent behavior

c. nervous behavior

4. New research suggests that  aggression between siblings can inflict psychological wounds as damaging as the anguish caused by bullies at school.

a. happiness

b. sadness

c. suffering

5. The new study, which involved thousands of children  found that those who were intimidated by a sibling had increased levels of depression, anger and anxiety.

a-helped

b. frightened

c. encouraged

6. Behaviors that cross the line into abuse deserve more recognition.

a. acknowledgment

b.  disbelief

c. encouragement

7. There appears to be different norms of acceptability.

a. unusual

b. extraordinary

c. usual

8. Peer aggression is unacceptable.

a-unequal

b. equal

c. older

9. There are a growing number of programs and public services aimed at stopping bullying.

a. torment

b. befriend

c. help

10. The effects of sibling abuse often continue into adulthood.

a. cousin

b. sister or brother

c. aunt

Reading Comprehension

True /False/NA-Statements

Directions: Review the statements with students before the watching the video.  As students listen to the video if  a statement is true they mark it T.  If the statement is  not applicable, they mark it NA. If the statement is false they  mark  it F and provide the correct answer.

  1. Siblings have been bickering and trading blows since the time of Cain and Abel.
  2. New research suggests that as long as there are no there are no physical scars,  aggression between siblings is nothing to worry about.
  3. Infighting among brothers and sisters is widely considered a harmless rite of passage.
  4. The new study  involved thousands of  adults around the country.
  5. Siblings who have famous parents almost never fight.
  6. Peer aggression is unacceptable,  and it is the same for siblings.
  7. Nationwide, sibling violence is by far the most common form of family violence.
  8. For the new research, interviews  were conducted with children and their classmates.
  9. The effects of sibling abuse often  stop in adulthood.
  10. Boys have a tendency to fight more than girls.

Grammar Focus

Using Adjectives  to describe pictures

Directions: Have students choose a picture from this lesson and write a descriptive paragraph using adjectives.

For a review of visit ESL Voices Grammar: Adjectives

III. Post Reading Tasks

Reading Comprehension Check

WH-How Questions

Directions: Have students use the  WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

KWL Chart

Directions:  Have students  fill in the last column of the KWL chart if they used one in the pre-reading segment of this lesson.

Discussion/Writing Exercise

Directions: Place students in groups and have them answer the following questions. After, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the discussion topics.

Review ESL Voices Modes of Essay Writing.

  1. If you have a sibling, were you bullied by your sibling? If yes, describe the circumstances. If no, explain the type of relationship you and your sibling had.
  2. Did you bully your younger brother or sister when you were young? Explain why you did or did not.
  3. If you are an only child, did you miss having a sibling when you were young?
  4. Provide reasons for your answers.
  5. With your group members make a list of reasons why siblings might bully one another.
  6. Make a list of solutions that might stop siblings from bullying each other.
  7. The article states, “New research suggests that even when there are no physical scars, aggression between siblings can inflict psychological wounds as damaging as the anguish caused by bullies at school or on the playground.”   How would you put this statement into your own words?

IV. Listening Activity   

Video Clip:  Sibling Bullying as Damaging as Peer Bullying: Report ABC Good Morning America.

Introduction: Dr. Richard Besser discusses the dangers of bullying by a brother or sister on ABC news.

 While Listening Activities

True /False/NA-Statements

Directions: Review the statements with students before the watching the video.  As students listen to the video if  a statement is true they mark it T.  If the statement is  not applicable, they mark it NA. If the statement is false they  mark  it F and provide the correct answer.

  1. Dr. Richard Besser is a psychiatrist..
  2. The study’s goal was to find out if the same effects occurred from sibling bullying as from peer bullying.
  3. Dr. Besser stated that he rarely asked parents about bullying in the  schools.
  4. Dr. Besser stated that children who bully their siblings are  usually the youngest.
  5. The research showed that bullying by siblings can be  more  damaging than peer bullying.
  6. Dr. Besser’s advice was for parents to have zero tolerance for bullying.
  7. He also stated that parents should not model violent behavior in the home.
  8. When parents see positive interaction between siblings they should separate them,
  9. When parents observe bullying between siblings they should should separate them.
  10. According to Dr. Besser he picked on his  brothers when they were young.
  11. He was the youngest brother of four siblings.
  12.  His Brothers are also doctors.

 Link for video here

Post-Listening Activities

Questions for Discussion

Directions:Place students in groups and have them discuss the following questions.

1. After listening to this video has your personal idea of sibling bullying changed in any way?   If yes, describe in what way.  If no, describe your original opinion.

2. Did  you agree with everything the speaker said?  Discuss which comments  you agreed with and which ones you tended not to agree with.  Explain why.

3. Do you feel different towards your sibling (if you used to fight, or were you always nice with your brothers or sisters) now?

4. With your group members, make up questions that you would like to ask the Dr. Richard Besser.

ANSWER KEY:  Sibling Bullying