Public School... Private Hell?


Last Monday, the 20th of January 2014, The Times newspaper published a survey showing the number of teachers convicted of sexual offences in Independent Schools.

Headmaster's and Headmistress' Conference

The study revealed, that of the 253 schools in the Headmaster’s and Headmistress’ Conference, 50 were named in connection with sexual abuse, as well as 20 Preparatory Schools, some of which are feeder schools for Eton. The survey and related article warned of a new sex abuse scandal, particularly regarding boys most in Boarding Schools over the past half century.

Most of the cases were historic incidences of abuse with some happening nearly 50 years ago. Society has since changed and it is hoped that victims of such abuse nowadays feel more confident in coming forward, complaining of offences which have blighted their adult lives.

Keir Starmer QC, who was recently Director of Public Prosecutions, has pushed for a mandatory requirement for schools to report all suspected abuse. He is quoted as saying, "During the past 18 months we have spread the message that those who report such crimes will be listened to by police and prosecutors. I sense that people today feel that they will be taken more seriously."

Children in these institutions were particularly vulnerable in the past. Boarding schools are their own little world and in the days before mobile phones and the internet, children were largely cut off from the outside world and their families. The analysis of the prosecutions undertaken by The Times includes offences ranging from buggery and indecent assault to possessing pornographic photographs. It shows that in many cases, on discovery of this behaviour, the teachers were quietly moved on and were free to continue abuse in a new institution.

It is to be hoped that the very strong message coming from the top of the legal profession, and the willingness of recent prosecutions regarding public figures, that the covering up of abuse is no longer acceptable and abusers can still, many years on, be held accountable.

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