Objective: It is widely presumed that when children are hit by peers or siblings, it is not as serious as similar acts between adults or older youth, which would be termed, "assaults" and "violent crimes". The goal of this study was to compare the violent peer and sibling episodes of younger children to those of older youth in terms of their seriousness and association with symptoms that might indicate traumatic effects.
Method: The study collected reports of past year's violent victimizations and childhood symptoms in a national probability telephone sample of 2030 children and youth ages 2-17. The experiences of 10-17-year olds were obtained via self-reports and those of the 2-9-year olds from caregivers.
Results: The younger children's peer and sibling victimizations were not less serious than the older youth on the dimensions of injury, being hit with an object that could cause injury or being victimized on multiple occasions. Younger children and older youth also had similar trauma symptom levels associated with both peer and sibling victimization.
Conclusion: There was no basis in this study for presuming peer and sibling victimizations to be more benign when they involve younger children. The findings provide justification for being concerned about such peer and sibling violence in schools and families and for counting such victimizations in victimization inventories and clinical assessments.