Britain’s Elite Boarding Schools Are Facing an Explosion of Abuse Allegations

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‘At lights out one Sunday evening within weeks of starting at his senior school, Joel Shaw was “stripped, sexually assaulted and publicly humiliated by my housemaster jeered on by loads of my peers”, he recalls bitterly. It resulted, he claims, in him being remorselessly taunted as being this master’s ‘Bum­Boy’, a nickname seared into his memory and one that dogged him throughout his school career.

“I want an apology,” says Joel (not his real name). He has recently made a claim for damages against the boarding school where he was allegedly abused nearly 30 years ago at the age of 13. “I want an acknowledgement abuse happened and also recognition of how it affected me.”

The taunting – publicly, vocally, and therefore known to other staff at the school – only reinforced his feelings of anger and shame at what he says was done to him. He remains conflicted about the close relationship he subsequently developed with the teacher, who, he says, took pains to nurture his enthusiasms and helped shape his deep appreciation of the arts. The confusion for a teenager was agonising, he says, and, as a man, the shame remains…..

Shaw is one of many of children who now claim they were sexually, physically and emotionally abused when they were sent away to UK boarding schools and fee-paying day schools. After years of repressing his experience, he is now in contact with other ex ­boarders who, like him, express sadness and rage that the precious years in which a boy becomes a man were indelibly tainted by their experience of abuse. Trapped sometimes by denial, sometimes by disgust, and sometimes even by feelings of loyalty to their school, many are only now, in their 30s, 40s and 50s, finding themselves able to report perpetrators to police. Some wait until their parents are dead before making a complaint, not wishing to inflict pain, guilt and regret on mothers and fathers in their twilight years.’

Read the full report on Newsweek

Niamh Harris
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