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Sibling Physical Abuse

  • By: Mary Virginia Sprang
  • In: Encyclopedia of Family Health
  • Edited by: Martha Craft-Rosenberg & Shelley-Rae Pehler
  • Subject:Family Health, Family Policy, Family Law

Sibling assault is a term used in the child maltreatment, child welfare, and family violence literature to describe acts of physical violence between siblings. In contrast, sibling abuse is a broader concept and may include other adverse events such as sexual abuse or psychological maltreatment. This entry deals with the physical form of sibling abuse, referred to hereafter as sibling assault or sibling physical abuse. Sibling assault tends to be more likely to occur as a chronic condition and is less likely to involve the use of weapons than other forms of child-on-child violence.

Sibling physical assault occurs when one child aggressively and intentionally causes physical harm to the other sibling. While normal sibling conflict involves mutual disagreement over the parceling of family resources, especially parental ...

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