Sibling bullying is associated with poor mental health in autistic adolescents. The reasons for this remain unclear. In the current investigation, self-esteem in mid-adolescence was investigated as a potential mediator in the relationship between sibling bullying – victimisation or perpetration – in early adolescence and mental health in late adolescence. Data from a national representative longitudinal cohort study in the United Kingdom, the Millennium Cohort Study, was accessed. Parent reports were used to identify a sample of 416 autistic adolescents. Autistic adolescents self-reported their sibling bullying experiences and self-esteem levels in early- and mid-adolescence alongside their positive (e.g., wellbeing) and negative mental health (e.g., internalising and externalising problems) in late adolescence. A series of structural equation models were fitted to the data. The findings showed that increased sibling bullying – both victimisation and perpetration – in early adolescence significantly predicted reduced self-esteem in mid-adolescence. In turn, reduced self-esteem in mid-adolescence significantly predicted poorer positive and negative mental health in late adolescence. That is, self-esteem significantly mediated longitudinal associations between sibling bullying and positive and negative mental health. These findings suggest that sibling bullying in early adolescence may lead to mental health difficulties in late adolescence through a reduction in self-esteem in mid-adolescence in autistic adolescents.
|Publication status||Published - 24 Apr 2022|