TAKING ACTION: Preventing sibling abuse at home

HUNTSVILLE, Ala -  School safety has stayed "top of mind" since the Parkland Shooting on Valentine's Day. But, it's not just a "school issue." Safety starts at home.

Parents might not realize the serious problem "sibling abuse" causes for a child. Some parents might even dismiss it as "kids being kids." But, experts say it can create devastating issues for them down the road.

One thing we recently learned about the accused high school shooter is he was bullied by his younger brother. That's according to a sheriff's report which claims the boy admitted to bullying his sibling when they were younger.

Studies show the majority of children deal with aggression of a sibling. Older siblings are more likely to abuse younger siblings due to their size and status/power. Abuse can be emotional, mental, physical or sexual.

Signs of emotional abuse include relentless teasing, scaring or criticizing. Things like telling a brother or sister they're stupid, or unlovable. Physical abuse is kicking, choking, causing injury.

Sexual abuse can also play a part. Children can entice their siblings to "play doctor" and explore each other's bodies without consent. These things can all lead to eating disorders, drug abuse or violence as an adult.

To rid the problem in your home, parents are encouraged to set boundaries, and make sure children know the difference between play and abuse. Don't give older siblings too much responsibility over their younger brother or sister.

Experts encourage you to talk to your children one-on-one every day, and know when to intervene in your children's arguments.

Sometimes they need the extra help with conflict resolution. But, if you need some extra assistance, remember you can always call the National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child. They deal with all types of abuse and are there to help.