The purpose of this observational study was to describe the frequency of coercive behavior among siblings in foster care, a diverse population at high risk for mental health impairment. We examined differences in coercion frequency at the level of the individual child (i.e. age & gender), sibling dyad (i.e. age gap, gender composition, & warmth), and foster care placement (i.e. sibling placement, number of prior placements). Finally, we wanted to know if sibling coercion was related to child mental health diagnosis. A series of descriptive statistics and non-parametric tests indicated that there was a wide range of coercion levels among individual children. Sibling coercion frequency did differ by age, with older children displaying lower levels. Coercion also differed by level of sibling warmth; children who perceived more warmth from their sibling displayed a lower frequency of coercion. Coercion levels also differed by sibling placement with siblings living together displaying a higher frequency of coercive interaction than those living apart. The frequency of sibling coercion was not related to mental health diagnosis. Though the experience of child abuse and living in a home with coercive family members may increase a child’s coercive behavior towards a sibling, our findings show that not all children meet this expectation. Careful attention to specific child and sibling dyad needs are critical to design effective interventions, practices, and policies.
Jaramillo, J. (2018, May). Sibling Coercion & Mental Health among Youth in Foster Care. Oregon State University. Committee comprised Dr. Mary Arnold, Dr. Lew Bank, Dr. Karen Elliott, Dr. Brianne Kothari (Chair).