Sibling Aggression: Why Can’t My Kids Just Get Along?

Among ornithologists, “avian siblicide,” the murder of a nestling bird by an older brother or sister bird, is a well-known phenomenon.

Human children rarely murder their brothers and sisters, but every human parent can attest to the fact that there is a level of what scientists call “relational aggression” among their offspring.

Researchers from the University of California at Davis just completed a major study of “sibling relational aggression,” published this month in Child Development. They studied the interactions between 461 pairs of siblings and their parents, looking for factors that influenced sibling aggression. Among their findings:

  1. Just having a brother or sister influences a child’s level of aggression.
  2. An older sister or brother who is very aggressive increases a younger sibling’s chances of being aggressive too.
  3. A younger brother or sister who is very aggressive increases an older sibling’s level of aggression.
  4. If parents show hostility in their family interactions, their children’s level of aggression increases. Parental hostility related to economic pressures, so indirectly, socio-economic factors, have an impact on children’s aggression.

Aggression Runs in Families

Certain families seem to produce aggressive children. For example, one British study found that 10% of London families were responsible for 64% of adult convictions, 94% of felony theft offenses, and 100% of all robberies. A study in Australia found that having a sibling who is a juvenile delinquent doubles the chances of younger sons becoming one too.

Read more about sibling aggression, including the role your child’s gender plays and what parents can do >>

What Parents Need to Know About Teen Driving

You’ve heard of a DWI – driving while intoxicated. Maybe there should be a DWT – driving while a teenager – considering the risks involved.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens, accounting for 36% of all deaths in this age group. The risk of motor vehicle crashes is higher among 16- to 19-year-olds than among any other age group. In fact, per mile driven, teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are four times more likely than older drivers to crash (IIHS 2006).

Here are some more sobering statistics on teen driving:

  • Male teen drivers are one and a half times more likely to die in a motor vehicle accident than female teen drivers.
  • When the teen is driving other teens and is unsupervised by an adult, the risk of a crash increases with the number of passengers.
  • Teen drivers are most at risk of crash during their first year of driving. Crash risk is particularly high during the first year that teenagers are eligible to drive (IIHS 2006).
  • Teens are more likely than older drivers to underestimate hazardous situations or dangerous situations or not be able to recognize hazardous situations (Jonah 1987).
  • Teens have the lowest rate of seat belt use. Ten percent of high school students reported they rarely or never wear seat belts when riding with someone else (CDC 2006b).
  • In a national survey conducted in 2005, nearly 30% of teens reported that within the previous month, they had ridden with a driver who had been drinking alcohol. One in ten reported having driven after drinking alcohol within the same one-month period (CDC 2006b).
  • In 2005, half of teen deaths from motor vehicle crashes occurred between 3 p.m. and midnight and 54% occurred on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday (IIHS 2006).

What Can Parents Do?

Research suggests that the most strict and comprehensive graduated drivers licensing programs are associated with reductions of 38% and 40% in fatal and injury crashes, respectively, of 16-year-old drivers. If you are a parent in a state that does not offer these programs, get involved with groups pushing for these reforms and make sure your voice is heard.

Learn how you can keep your teen driver safe while they enjoy the privilege of driving >>

Call (866) 845-1391 to learn more about our programs.