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2002 Jordan Institute
for Families

Vol. 7, No. 2
May 2002

Sex between Siblings

Children who have been molested often re-enact their abuse with other children. Therefore, when a child has committed sexual offenses against a sibling, it is important to assess whether the offending child has been sexually abused by an adult.

In cases of sexual activity between siblings, it is important to determine whether the behavior was normal childhood sex play or whether the older or stronger child was coercing, overpowering, intimidating, tricking, or manipulating a younger or smaller child. Normal “sex play” occurs between young children of the same developmental level and power. (For more on normal sexual play in children, click here.)

Much incestuous behavior between siblings is actually sexually abusive: the older child has more strength, more authority, and more experience (Gray & Pithers; Engel, 1994).