Sibling Bullying and Mental Health in British and Turkish Autistic Children and Adolescents: The Role of Social and Emotional Functioning

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Nearly one in two autistic individuals is involved in sibling bullying, which is linked to increased mental health difficulties. Despite its high prevalence, only a handful of studies have focused on the relationship between sibling bullying and mental health in the autistic population. Of these, a vast majority of evidence comes from Western cultures while little is known about non-western cultures. For the first time, the current study investigated the cross-cultural variability in the prevalence and demographic and mental health correlates of sibling bullying between a Western (the United Kingdom) and non-western (Turkey) country. Parents of British (N=289) and Turkish (N=171) autistic individuals, aged 9-20 years, completed online questionnaires. Structural equation models were fitted to test the risk factors for behavioural and mental health correlates of sibling bullying. Overall, sibling bullying was highly prevalent in the lives of both British and Turkish autistic adolescents as more than two-thirds either bullied a sibling or were bullied by a sibling every week. While some potential risk factors for sibling bullying were present in both cultures (e.g., past sibling bullying experiences), some were culture-specific (e.g., having a male sibling (British), higher parental education (Turkish)). Consistent with previous reports, higher rates of sibling bullying were significantly correlated with poorer mental health in both British and Turkish samples. Additionally, sibling bullying was indirectly linked to mental health difficulties through detrimental social behaviours (British and Turkish) and emotion regulation (British-only) in autistic children and adolescents. There were no indirect correlations between sibling bullying and mental health through social skills in either sample. Implications of these findings as well as cross-cultural similarities and differences are discussed in more detail in light of the relevant cross-cultural psychological theory.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102392
Number of pages13
JournalResearch in Autism Spectrum Disorders
Early online date8 Apr 2024
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2024

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