Friday, May 16, 2014

Scarred for life by the boarding school sadists

School of suffering: The young A.N. Wilson with his mother
Would you send your child to a boarding school? Did you go to one?

Those who aren’t British find our whole relationship with these institutions puzzling. People of other nations apparently have babies because they want them.

They enjoy family life, at least some of the time, and consider it to be one of the greatest privileges in existence to watch their children develop.

A family occasion - whether Sunday lunch or bigger festivities such as birthdays and anniversaries - is just that, with all generations gathered around a table.

If you are British, rich and privileged, however, no sooner do you have a baby than you invariably pay someone else to take it away from you. For the first few years of its life the child is looked after by a nanny. And then, as early as possible, it is packed off to a boarding school.

You do not need to have read about Dotheboys Hall, the horrific boarding school in Charles Dickens’s Nicholas Nickleby, to know that British boarding schools have always been a by-word for discomfort, cruelty (by the children to one another, and by adults to the children), sadism and sexual perversion.

Yet people continue to shell out sums in excess of £25,000 or £30,000 a year, out of taxed income, to send their children to such places.

This week, following the litany of reports of abuse at supposedly respectable schools, Ray McGovern, a headmaster and leader of the Boarding Schools Association, used his annual keynote address to apologise for the damage done by these institutions over the years to British children.

Those of us sent away to school to suffer years of homesickness, psychological torture, bullying and sexual abuse, are obviously pleased that at last the penny has dropped. But it is scandalous that the apology has taken so long.  (more...)

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