Violent Older Siblings Set Bad Example

WEDNESDAY April 30, 2014, 2014 -- When older siblings commit violent crimes, their younger siblings are more likely to do the same, a new study suggests.

Researchers analyzed databases in Sweden that linked siblings and criminal convictions. They found that older siblings strongly "transmit" the risk for violent crime to younger siblings, while younger siblings are much less likely to have that type of influence on older siblings.

The investigators also found that the closer in age siblings are, the greater the risk for transmitting violent behavior, according to the study published online April 28 in the journal Psychological Medicine.

"Because older siblings often exert more influence on siblings than younger, the risk for violent criminal behavior should be greater when the older sibling has violent criminal behavior as compared to the younger sibling. However it is not just mere closeness in age, but rather the nature of the sibling relationship that often occurs when siblings are closer in age," wrote the researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University and Lund University in Sweden.

Previous research has shown that violent criminal behavior runs in families due to shared factors such as poverty, divorce and poor parenting. These new findings offer further insight into transmission of such behavior within families and may prove useful in the development of prevention and treatment programs, the study authors said.

More information

The American Psychological Association outlines the warning signs of youth violence.

Posted: April 2014


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