Can Sibling Rivalry Be Considered Abuse?

June 3, 2024
Contact Our South Jersey DCPP lawyers at the Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker Today
Contact Our South Jersey DCPP lawyers at the Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker Today

There are times when siblings do not get along. On rare occasions, it could cross the line to create dangerous conditions for one or both of them. Sibling rivalry could be considered abuse in certain circumstances. In that event, New Jersey’s Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP) may become involved in a case. Depending on the facts, the parents could be punished based on what they may have known.

Sibling rivalry could be a constant back and forth between both siblings, where they could cross the line to physical violence with each other. In more cases, sibling abuse occurs when one takes advantage of their superior size and position to commit harm to the other. Sibling abuse could have dramatic consequences for the victim that are both physical and emotional.

Sibling Abuse Is, Unfortunately, Far Too Common

Many siblings indeed report that they have experienced some aggressive physical behavior at the hands of another sibling. One-third of children reported that they “suffered aggressive victimization” from another sibling in the past year. Four percent of U.S. children report suffering a physical injury at the hands of a sibling in the past year or facing a weapon that was brandished by them.

Sibling rivalry may not always be child abuse.  Siblings may demonstrate aggressive behavior towards each other, and it is not abuse, even if it may become physical sometimes. However, sibling rivalry can become abuse when it causes serious physical or emotional harm or a strong likelihood of such effects. Rivalry and aggressive behavior are most likely to become abuse when it is chronic and sustained over a long period of time.  However, one extreme incident of physical conduct can also become abuse. For example, being kicked or beaten in a dangerous area of the body could be abuse. Certainly, if an assault involves a weapon, it is more likely to be abusive.

The Parents Could Be in Trouble for Sibling Abuse

Even if the parents were not the ones who committed the abuse, they have a legal obligation to create a safe atmosphere for their children. If they knew that one sibling was abusing the other, and they did nothing, they could end up being legally accountable for it. DCPP may even remove the child from the home and place them in foster care.

Parents must be vigilant about discovering and acting upon situations where one sibling may abuse the other. Sometimes, parents may not know what is happening, and with it hope you hold them accountable. However, if DCPP even has an idea that a parent knew about the abuse and did nothing about it, they may even try to hold the parent accountable.

DCPP will always investigate when it becomes aware of anything that could endanger a child. Parents can expect the DCPP to be in the home and ask tough questions that could have consequences. If you are notified that you are the target or subject of a DCPP investigation, you must hire an experienced attorney. There are very high stakes, and your custody of your child could even be on the line.

Contact Our South Jersey DCPP lawyers at the Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker Today

Our South Jersey DCPP lawyers at the Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker can represent you when you are the target of an investigation. If DCPP asks questions, you need an attorney to help you navigate the investigation. You can call us today at 856-210-9776 or contact us online to schedule a consultation. Located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, we serve clients in South Jersey, including Haddonfield, Marlton, Medford, Moorestown, Mount Laurel, and Voorhees.

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