Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
, 8 (3), 311-7

Child Abuse by Siblings

Child Abuse by Siblings

A H Green. Child Abuse Negl.


The case histories of five children who inflicted serious injuries on their younger siblings are described in detail. The children shared several experiences in common: They had been physically abused themselves; their families were undergoing crises, which accentuated their maternal deprivation and rejection; they were burdened with excessive caretaking for the target sibling, who was perceived as the favorite; they had also experienced the recent loss of their father or paternal caretaker. The psychodynamics associated with sibling abuse represented an intensification of "normal" sibling rivalry due to the abuser's own maltreatment and deprivation. Pent-up rage towards the mother was displaced onto the sibling rival. The abusers made use of identification with the aggressor as a prominent mechanism of defense. The sibling attacks were adaptive for the abusers in the following ways: (a) They afforded them a measure of revenge against the more highly regarded sibling rival; (b) they served as an outlet for rage directed towards the mother; (c) they were used as an attention getting device; (d) they provided a sense of mastery over the trauma of their own abuse; and (e) were used to "educate" the abusing parent.

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 2 articles

  • Child abuse inflicted by small children.
    Friedrich K, Becker K, Rothschild MA, Banaschak S. Friedrich K, et al. Int J Legal Med. 2013 May;127(3):627-30. doi: 10.1007/s00414-012-0731-5. Epub 2012 Jun 27. Int J Legal Med. 2013. PMID: 22736072
  • Bite injuries upon a newborn.
    Hein PM, Pannenbecker J, Schulz E. Hein PM, et al. Int J Legal Med. 1992;105(1):53-5. doi: 10.1007/bf01371240. Int J Legal Med. 1992. PMID: 1504003