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My Family Is a Bully: Bullying Within the Family

My family is a Bully

Bullying within the family is probably the least reported form of bullying. It comes in all different types and aspects, whether it comes from the mother or father to their children or vice versa, close relatives such as aunts, uncles, cousins, stepchildren, etc. We’ll break down how it affects daily life within or outside the household and try to detect some signs to prevent it. The anti-bullying movement has really came into play for about the past 15 years. 49 of the 50 states in the US have passed some sort of anti-bullying legislation, with the first being Georgia in 1999. Montana is the only state that has yet to adopt any sort of anti-bullying legislation. If “my family is a bully” applies to you, then give this article a read!

|SEE ALSO: Stories of Domestic Violence|

My Family Is a Bully

Some forms of bullying can be described as nit-picking, put downs, constant criticism, lack of affection, complaining to others about you, silent treatment and negative comparisons to others. Often times, since it happens within the family, it is often excused. Not only does it cause crisis within your family, it can affect your life outside of it too. One aspect could be a trust factor within the relationships you choose. It’s hard to trust anyone outside your family when you can’t trust anyone from within. You have to be aware of how it affects all aspects of your life. Another aspect can be the physicality factor: bullying can lead to fighting, which could cause harm to your body with bruises, scars and scrapes. Also consider the gaps it can cause within your family. If you avoid a family member on purpose and skip out on family events because you’re being bullied, it causes separation and other family members will become curious and uncomfortable.

It’s OK to take a space from your family. Don’t feel guilty if you honestly feel your family is affecting your livelihood. Some family members may not understand what affects you; and if it does affect you, try to avoid that family member, especially if you have already tried confronting them and asking them to stop. You can avoid them by taking up additional hobbies, avoiding calls, texts or e-mails. This should be the last resort, as the next paragraph will explain the steps to take to confront the matter.

Then again make sure you ask for help before you take that step. Sometimes your family member may not realize that the bullying tactics are affecting you. If that doesn’t help, try and seek professional help for yourself or maybe them. Creating additional personal relationships outside your family can also make you throw out old ones. If you’ve attempted to make amends with that family member, and they’re not willing to make changes, you have to move on. Counselors, friends, and people within your community can help you cope and move on. If “my family is a bully” is your case, that would be something that’s got to be confronted to try and nip in the bud as soon as possible.

Sibling Bullying

Bullying amongst siblings could be the most popular form of bullying. Many times children are close to one another in age so it creates a lot of similar interests and personal time together. Research has shown that the mental health ramifications of sibling bullying pose a threat in today’s society.

That’s where it’s tough to gauge this study, as a simple push or name call could be part of that report. If this is done at school by a classmate, then it’s considered bullying; if it’s done at home, it’s just your basic sibling fight. And it may not have been reported because one sibling would be afraid of the repercussions if they were to tell on the other sibling. Or they may not have realized it all together as they could just not be aware of the fact that it’s actual bullying. These studies are pretty rare and just aren’t reported as much for those actual reasons. Sibling bullying has an undefined way to it, and as we become more aware, we’ll see an increase in these reports.

More about sibling abuse? Read here!

My Parents Are Bullies

Bullying parents can be way too controlling or overbearing on their children either physically or mentally. Usually when you think of bullies, it often comes from children bothering other children either at school, in the neighborhood or on the athletic field. Parents can definitely be bullies too and cause a lot of issues in their children’s life. There’s a new form of bullying that’s trending too, as social media has taken society by storm with either Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. It’s very important to keep this in consideration as that could be the most damaging among all as it’s the most popular among youths. Youth have hundreds if not thousands of friends on these sites.

Most parents can grasp the concept of when it’s crossing the line in the bullying aspect. Disciplining your children is a very fine line these days, but in general it is much easier to identify bullying behaviors that are physical opposed to those that are emotional or mental. Emotional and mental bullying work by using methods of demeaning speech and other techniques that are meant to help the bully feel superior. Some parents may be struggling with their own livelihood, whether it’s personal or work related, and take it out on their children to help them escape the reality of their own lives.

When bullying parents choose this route with their parenting, they try and get to their children by being derisive. This can be harmful, since it can influence a child to have low morale of themselves. This can affect the child both physically and mentally which could result in depression, as well as affecting the child’s relationships down the road. Also to keep in mind, children learn from their parents and the attitude can be passed on when they pass adolescence and grow up to have children of their own.

When dealing or confronting the parent, it can be a difficult task. Obviously the first thing the child should try and do is talk to the parent. Make an effort to work out your differences. If that doesn’t work, you must go seek out some sort of outside help. A teacher at school, counselor or even law enforcement could be an option. It’s important to have the issue nipped in the bud as early as possible, as the effects can harm the long term relationship.

Bullying in Step-Families

Earlier we discussed the “my family is a bully” situation, and now we’ll look at if your step family is a bully. This could be more common than immediate family as step families enter each other’s world after they’ve had their original families. Most of the time the bond just isn’t there which could lead to bullying, compared to if it was your actual blood relative. Dealing with a step-family who is a bully to others in step-family can be a very difficult and touchy subject. Usually when a serious issue comes about, family members tend to divide biological lines. The division can cause the already fragile step-family unit to break.

Bullying within the step-family is a lot like general bullying. The perpetrator may pose threats, tease, name call, ignore or exclude their step-family member. Multiple biological siblings may gang up on the sibling that is not biologically related. Some children take the others’ things, parents give the special treatment to their more immediate member first, etc. They may shove, punch, kick or use other physical ways to abuse their own step-family member. They could even isolate their step-family member in a room keeping them from where they want or need to go.

Blended families have the added dynamic of having another parent who lives outside the home. Children can also bully step-family members by telling the biological parent that lives outside the house things that are not true about his or her step-sibling. This causes more bullying as pressure from the non-custodial biological parent is placed on the custodial biological parent to take action against an accused step-child.

More about the challenges of step-parenting?

There are several ways to prevent these types of bullying, which will be pretty similar to the ones mentioned before. Make sure a set of rules are in order and set consequences for the offenders and make sure it applies to all children whether it is biological or step, and make sure there are guidelines and parameters set for expected behavior. If you see inappropriate behavior, correct it on the spot and make sure enough supervision of all children should help stop or discourage bullying in step-families between step-siblings. Having a united front as parents will also help to discourage the child who is bullying others from causing further gaps in the family. Getting professional help for the child who is being a bully through counseling, support groups and/or religious leaders can also help empower members of the blended family and curb negative behavior.

Bullying Statistics

According to, here are some statistics regarding bullying:

-Over 3.2 million students are affected by bullying each year.

-1 in 4 teachers sees nothing wrong with bullying and will intervene only 4% of the time.

-Approximately 160,000 teens skip school every day because of bullying.

-17% of American students report being bullied 2 to 3 times a month or more during a school semester.

-By age 14 less than 30% of boys and 40% of girls will talk to their peers about bullying.

-Over 67% of students believe that schools respond poorly to bullying, with a high percentage of students believing that adult help is infrequent and ineffective.

-71% of students report incidents of bullying as a problem at their school.

-90% of TH through TH graders report being victims of bullying.

-1 in 10 students drop out of school because of repeated bullying.

-As boys age they are less and less likely to feel sympathy for victims of bullying. In fact they are more likely to add to the problem than solve it.

Physical bullying increases in elementary school, peaks in middle school and declines in high school. Verbal abuse, on the other hand, remains constant.

-Girls bully in groups more than boys do.

-The average bullying incident lasts only 37 seconds.

-Children with a learning disability or ADHD are more likely to be bullied; they are also slightly more likely to bully

These are some glaring statistics, especially at the lack of response by the faculty and administration at schools. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s way too late to prevent the violence and the ultimate repercussions could happen such as suicide, or harm to others. It seems as if a lot of school shootings as of late have been linked to bullying.

Bullying in General

As more awareness is spread on bullying, society will have to exert more effort to combat it. America has come a long way the last 15 years to help take these measures, but it’s also shown how rampant of a problem it is in the US among siblings and parents. Somethings you can do as a parent, adult or even friend are to be very mindful of these scenarios. You can join community help groups for bullying, join campaigns to help fight bullying, because awareness is the only approach at a solution.

Not sure what to do about bullying? Here’s Fighting Bullying 101.


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  • Joanne Goldstein
    Jul 28, 2015 at 07:52 pm

    I’m an adult and I’ve been bullied by my sister since childhood. I barely function, my parents also bully me. The big problem I’m having and have had for years, is that I can’t find any counselors or therapists who specialize in bullying, so I never got the help I need. I’ve been to many different ones in the past, but no one knew enough about bullying, they did not help me at all. From the vast amt. Of phone calls I’ve made looking for a therapist, this has not changed. Could you help me with a local referral?

  • Joanne Goldstein
    Sep 06, 2015 at 10:31 pm

    I’m an adult and I’ve been bullied by my sister since childhood. I barely function, my parents also bully me. The big problem I’m having and have had for years, is that I can’t find any counselors or therapists who specialize in bullying, so I never got the help I need. I’ve been to many different ones in the past, but no one knew enough about bullying, they did not help me at all. From the vast amt. Of phone calls I’ve made looking for a therapist, this has not changed. Could you help me with a local referral?

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