Children who are slapped or yelled 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.
Worryingly, researchers found that half of all the children studied said they had experienced bullying in their own home.
But, unlike bullying at school, there was no link to class or education; instead it was directly linked to the behaviour of the parents.
The study also found that the most likely culprit for sibling trouble was the middle child, with the eldest generally the innocent victim.
“There is an assumption that the eldest child is most likely the strongest and biggest in the sibling group and will do most of the bullying.
“In reality, it’s the middle children who are competing for their parents’ attention and for use of games and toys with both their elder and younger siblings that display a greater propensity to bully their brothers and sisters,” said Dr Alexandra Skew, a researcher at the University of Essex, which led the study.