About 7 months ago I heard some children outside crying and screaming. I look out the window and this 14-year-old boy is beating up (I mean really hurting) his 7 or 8-year-old brother. The 2 or 3-year-old brother is at the front of the house screaming for his mother. Guess what happened?? Nothing the mother left the boys outside, and when she did come get them, hours later, she told the younger boys “stop being whiny”. (I went outside shortly after I saw what was happening and the older brother saw me he stopped what he was doing.)
This is not normal siblings fighting this is sibling abuse, and parents letting the older sibling do it. What that boy was doing is called physical abuse (read the definition of physical abuse here). Unfortunately like with adults physical abuse is rarely conducted alone often times it is a mix of, emotional, and sexual abuse. Yes, I said sexual abuse siblings who can get away with one form of abuse will often move on to another. Girls with older brothers are the most likely to be victims of sexual abuse (read definition of sexual abuse here). Even if you do not have a child who is physically abusive make sure you do not have an emotional abuser (read the definition of emotional abuse here).
What are the signs of a sibling abuse?
One child always avoids a sibling/siblings.
Child behavior changes (i.e. sleep, eating, nightmares)
The child (especially young children) start playing out what is happening with toys.
The child has rigid roles when playing (i.e. one child is always the aggressor, and the other is always the victim).
How to protect your children.
Be involved in your children’s lives.
Do not accept sibling rivalry and fights as part of family life.
Teach your children how to handle conflicts in a healthy way early.
Do not create competition between your children.
Teach your children about sexuality (including personal safety).
Know what your child is watching on TV, the phone, online (no pornography).
Report ANY instants of young children talking about a sexual act by a family member. Children rarely lie about incest. If you have a child who comes out later and tells you about sexual abuse by a sibling help them deal with it (don’t say get over it).
Get professional help.
(Learn about sibling sexual abuse)
Good place to start for help (here)