Older stepbrother makes my young niece rub his feet: Cause for concern?

by Kim
(San Antonio, Texas, USA)

My mother told me earlier today that my niece had told her something odd. My niece is 7 years old. She told her that her step brother of one year who is 14 years old tells her to rub his dirty feet. And if she doesn't, she has to give him money. She says she hates it. This is the first I've heard of it. Her dad is my brother and he lives out of town. I don't see her mom and I have never met her mom's new husband and his three boys. I don't see my niece very often, just when her dad is in town a couple times a month. So I'm not around enough to see any changes in her behavior. I probably watch too much TV, and I'm blowing it way out of proportion. But it seemed strange and I just don't know who to ask about it.

Thank you for your help.

Kim

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Comments for Older stepbrother makes my young niece rub his feet: Cause for concern?

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Jul 06, 2008
You are NOT blowing this out of proportion...
by: Darlene Barriere - Webmaster

The behaviour this 14-year-old boy is exhibiting is most definitely cause for concern. He is bullying your niece. As an older sibling 7 years older than your 7-year-old niece, HE has all the power; and he's misusing that power. It is the imbalance and misuse of power that is at the core of bullying. This must be addressed with the boy, otherwise the bullying will likely escalate as he continues to manipulate your niece. An adult MUST intervene and KEEP her safe; she is not in a position to protect herself, not now and not in the future with this boy. The fact that she disclosed what is happening is a very good thing; it was a cry for help—it MUST be acted upon. If they're not, she may never again disclose when something bad is happening to her. The repercussions over the course of time could be devastating for your niece. And not just at the hands of this boy. It is very likely that as she gets older, she will continue to be manipulated by boys who are older than her because she will not have learned proper boundaries. She may well be at risk for future sexual abuse.

I strongly recommend you get in touch with her brother to tell him what is happening to his daughter. Show him my reply. And get your mother involved as well. Your niece is highly vulnerable and her stepbrother is teetering on being dangerously manipulative. You, and every other adult in this girl's life, have every right to be concerned.

Darlene Barriere
Violence & Abuse Prevention Educator
Author: On My Own Terms, A Memoir

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