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Peer-Reviewed Article

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Professional Development: The International Journal of Continuing Social Work Education






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Copyright © by The University of Texas at Austin’s School of Social Work’s Center for Social and Behavioral Research. All rights reserved.


The identification of sibling abuse is imperative to the emotional well-being of the victim, the perpetrator, and the family system. Sibling abuse has been identified as the most common form of family violence (Button, Parker, & Gealt, 2008; Reid & Donovan, 1990). It occurs more frequently than parent-child abuse or spousal abuse (Graham-Bermann, Cutler, Litzenberger, & Schwartz, 1994), yet it remains largely unaddressed in the literature and subsequently under the radar of child welfare, social service providers, and mental health practitioners. Highlighted in this paper is the need for those working in the field of mental health and social service to detect sibling abuse and its significant and detrimental impact. The aim of this paper is to broaden awareness of sibling abuse through the distinction of sibling abuse from normative sibling relational behavior and consider factors which prevent sibling abuse from gaining attention. Pathways to expanding knowledge of sibling abuse and integrating a sibling abuse framework is proposed to arm educators, practitioners, and child welfare staff to take action.

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