Sibling bullying ups depression risk

Another reason to be nice to your siblings: University of Oxford researchers say children who are regularly bullied by their siblings have a higher chance of becoming depressed when they’re older.

Researchers asked 7,000 12-year-olds if their siblings say mean things, hit, ignore or lie. At 18, the children had their mental health checked. More than 6 percent of those surveyed had clinical depression scores. More than 9 percent had anxiety and more than 7 percent caused self-inflicted harm during the past year.

Most children did not experience bullying. But of the ones who did, depression, self-harm, and anxiety was twice as likely, with more than 12 percent reporting depression, 14 percent reporting self-harm and 16 percent reporting anxiety.

Girls were more likely than boys to be bullied, especially in large families of three or more children. Older brothers were the most common culprit. On average, sibling bullying was reported to begin at age 8.

While it’s not clear if sibling bullying is the direct cause of depression, the study did show a strong correlation. More research is needed to determine the effects of bullying by siblings.

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