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Private School Abuse

por Chu Alvardo (2019-08-29)

Boarding School Abuse denotes a wide-range of criminal and lurid actions commonly committed against students by school faculty members, administrators or staff involving sexual assault of varying degrees. The assault can be a one-time, non-consensual abuse or it may involve several assaults within an continuing interaction. For example, an ongoing intimate encounter with a student, created by the predatory actions of a faculty member, school administrator or employee and whether leading to physical consensual sex acts or not, is a form of abuse.

Student on student sexual assault is an additional form of abuse, that can be compounded by the school’s failure to offer a safe environment that allowed the assault to happen. Inside the school community are students of different ages, maturity and experiences. Younger students may be exposed to the predatory actions of older, more experienced students. Their behavior, along with peer-pressure exerted to both the predator and the targeted victim, might lead to varying types of abuse including sexual assault of varying degrees.

In all reported Boarding School Assault situations, a school administration’s failure to entirely, adequately report the assault to law enforcement and other authorities, or its further failure to research, address and deal fully with the situation increases the effects on the abuse survivor, the school population and possibly others. Recent Boarding School Abuse issues reported in the press exemplify these failures, including matters where the perpetrator quietly departs the campus merely to assume employment elsewhere in a school environment.

Predatory Behavior
Most private schools pride themselves on their tiny, personal communities inside a well-defined and safe campus. In this environment, faculty, administrators and staff are often much nearer and familiar with students than would be expected in a non-boarding school situation. This can create both opportunity and cover for the possible attacker and for the predatory behavior.

In some matters, the abuser could be a likeable and popular individual, generally thought to be a enhancement to the school community. A targeted victim could feel flattered that a popular superior in the school community is expressing special interest in him or her. Because of this popularity and integration in the school community, abuse accusations against these attackers are frequently met with distrust, non-belief, and resistance by the community. Frequesntly, abusers have distance and judgment problems which turn into unusually friendly relationships with students that are past what are normally anticipated. This creates a predatory path and opportunity for the abuse.

All abusers, to varying degrees, use predatory methods that are generally referred to as "grooming," or targeting a possible abuse victim. Below is a list of grooming behaviors exhibited by predators that are in a position of authority in relation to the subordinate student.

Grooming is a major part of a predator’s method. In a boarding school situation, a predator usually works closely with small amounts of students, realizing each student’s needs and vulnerabilities. Once a victim is located and selected, these vulnerabilities – like loneliness, low self-esteem, emotional neediness, or attention seeking behavior, might be systematically leveraged in the following ways:


A predator may initially work to gain the student’s trust. This step is the most difficult to discern as private school communities are often tight-knit and personal engagement is commonplace. Here, the predator is usually part of a group of staff who are genuinely interested in the student’s wellbeing and achievement at the school.
As a predator creates a trusting engagement with the potential student-victim, the student might begin to count on more and more on the predator for whatever need it is that the predator is exploiting and fulfilling. The victim may spend more time with the predator, feeling more and more comfortable with the relationship. Additionally to attention and kindness, the potential victim might receive gifts from the predator, which may include valuable, gifts like the guarantee of higher marks, or a college recommendation letter. The reliance step is mainly when the predatory behavior is noticeable from well-meaning collegial behavior.


As the grooming progresses, the predator might work to isolate the student. At school, this could mean late meetings, tutoring sessions, meetings in the dormitory , one-on-one athletic practice sessions, or various other such circumstances.
The predator will begin to desensitize the student from reacting negatively to touching, caressing and other actions that lead to sexual interaction. This could begin with breaching the physical-touch barrier, or communicating, with suggestive messages to gauge the victim’s reaction to the progression. This might increase until the relationship transforms to one of a physical, sexual nature.
Once the sexual relationship is created, the predator may work to keep control of the victim and the continuing interaction. The predator will likely try to manipulate the student by introducing emotions of guilt, or possibly threats, or employ the opposite strategy of continuing to make the victim feel special and desired. In any event, the predator might continue to exploit the victim by whatever means necessary to keep the inappropriate physical relationship.

Legacy on Abuse Victims

When the grooming escalates as intended by the predator, the targeted student, being made to feel special, will probably respond positively to the behaviors. The predator, through these well planned and executed grooming behaviors and activities, tries to re-calibrate and remove the moral confines of the victim. Since the abuse survivor participated in the re-calibration, he frequently has deep feelings of shame, initially blaming himself for the incident and hesitant to report it.

Furthermore, after the abuse has been reported, survivors of boarding school abuse are frequently subjected to discreet social pressure and intimidation, such as being bullied, alienation from their peers, or retaliation from administrators. Particularly at private schools, where academics are stringent, competition can be intense and social circles small, survivors of abuse could be readily isolated and socially persecuted. Subjected to those reactions, many boarding school abuse survivors who have reported the abuse leave school. Others, faced with the prospect of such isolation and social persecution, report the abuse a while later. In either situation, the legacy can be significant and life-altering.

Some abuse victims suffer from long-term effects of the abuse including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, low self-esteem, suicidal thoughts, substance abuse, disturbed sleeping and eating patterns, and trouble establishing and keeping healthy relationships. Individual therapy and support groups could help survivors get past these effects.

Legally, a survivor of boarding school abuse could receive financial compensation from the abuser and more frequently, from the school for its negligence to protect the student from the predator, as well as failures or deficiencies in its process of reviewing and replying to the victim’s report of the abuse. If you are a survivor of boarding school abuse and would like to confidentially share your story and learn of your legal options at no cost or obligation, we are prepared to speak with you. It is important for a victim to remember that being a victim is not your fault. The lawyers at Meneo Law Group are committed to bringing those responsible for the assault to justice.