Middle children ‘likelier to bully their brothers and sisters’

London: Children who are slapped or shouted at by their parents are more likely to bully their brothers or sisters, and middle children are more likely to be the bullies, according to new research.

It also found that half of all the children experienced bullying in their own home, but unlike bullying at school, there was no link with whether the family was poor or wealthy, badly or well-educated.

Instead, it was purely linked to the behaviour of the parents, reports the Daily Mail.

Despite widespread belief that the oldest child was usually the culprit for bullying younger siblings, the survey of 2,146 young people aged 11 to 15 found that middle children were in fact more likely to bully.

The survey by researchers from the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex, working with the University of Warwick, found that among children who had been slapped, 42 percent admitted bullying their siblings, while only 32 percent of children who had not been hit had done so.

“Sibling bullying is widespread with up to 50 per cent involved every month and between 16 and 20 percent involved in bullying several times a week,” said Prof Dieter Wolke, the co-author of the report and an expert in childhood bullying.

“We know from experience that sibling bullying increases the risk of involvement in bullying at school. Children involved in bullying are 14 times more likely to suffer behavioural and emotional problems, they have no place that is safe for them,” he said.

The researchers will present their work at a conference this week that will look at the latest findings from the UK`s Understanding Society study.