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Boarding School Abuse

by Deangelo Teague (2019-08-29)

Private School Abuse denotes a series of illegal and lurid acts frequently perpetrated on students by school faculty members, administrators or staff involving sexual assault of varying degrees. The assault can be a one-time, non-consensual encounter or it can involve many assaults during an ongoing interaction. For example, an ongoing intimate encounter with a student, formed by the predatory actions of a faculty member, school administrator or employee and whether leading to physical agreed sex acts or not, is a form of abuse.

600Student on student sexual assault is another form of abuse, that might be compounded by the school’s negligence to provide a safe environment that enabled the attack to occur. Inside the school community are students of varying ages, maturity and experiences. Immature students may be subjected to the predatory actions of older, more experienced students. Their actions, along with peer-pressure exerted to both the predator and the targeted victim, might lead to varying forms of abuse that includes sexual assault of varying degrees.

In all alleged Boarding School Abuse situations, a school administration’s failure to entirely, adequately report the assault to law enforcement and other authorities, or its additional failure to research, address and deal fully with the situation increases the effects on the victim, the school community and potentially others. Recent Boarding School Abuse cases reported in the media highlight these failures, including situations where the perpetrator quietly leaves the campus only to assume working elsewhere in a school environment.

Predatory Behavior
Many private schools pride themselves on their tiny, personal communities inside a well-defined and secure campus. In that environment, faculty, administrators and staff are often much closer and familiar with students than would be expected in a non-boarding school situation. This may provide both opportunity and cover to the possible abuser and for the predatory behavior.

In some matters, the abuser could be a personable and popular person, generally considered to be a positive addition to the school community. A targeted student may feel flattered that a popular superior in the school community has expressed special attention in him or her. Because of this popularity and involvement into the school community, abuse accusations against these criminals are frequently met with doubt, disbelief, and resistance by the community. Often, abusers have distance and judgment problems which manifest themselves in oddly friendly relationships with students that are beyond what are normally expected. This provides a predatory pathway and opportunity for the attack.

All abusers, to differing amounts, use predatory actions that are generally referred to as "grooming," or targeting a potential abuse victim. Below is a compilation of grooming methods exhibited by predators that are in a position of authority in relation to the student.

Grooming is a significant part of a predator’s method. In a boarding school situation, a predator often works closely with small numbers of students, understanding every student’s needs and weaknesses. Once a victim is located and chosen, these vulnerabilities – like being lonely, low self-esteem, emotional neediness, or attention seeking behavior, may be systematically exploited in the following ways:


A predator might first work to gain the student’s trust. This step is the most difficult to realize as boarding school communities are usually tight-knit and personal engagement is commonplace. Here, the attacker is likely part of a group of staff who are genuinely interested in the student’s wellness and success at the school.
As a predator establishes a trusting relationship 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 leveraging and fulfilling. The victim will spend more time with the predator, feeling more and more comfortable with the relationship. Additionally to attention and kindness, the possible victim may receive gifts from the predator, which may include valuable, presents such as the guarantee of higher grades, or a college recommendation letter. The reliance stage is usually where the predatory behavior is distinguishable from well-meaning collegial behavior.


As the grooming continues, the predator may work to isolate the student. At school, this might mean late get togethers, tutoring sessions, encounters in the dormitory , one-on-one sports training sessions, or other such circumstances.
The predator will begin to de-sensitize the student from reacting negatively to touching, caressing and other actions which lead to sexual interaction. This may start with breaking the physical-touch barrier, or speaking, with suggestive messages to gauge the victim’s response to the advancement. This might escalate until the relationship advances to one of a physical, sexual nature.
Once the sexual relationship is created, the predator may try to maintain control over the student and the continuing abuse. The predator will probably seek to manipulate the victim by inducing feelings of shame, or possibly threats, or use the opposite tactic 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.

Impacts on Abuse Survivors

When the grooming increases as intended by the predator, the targeted student, being made to feel special, will probably respond positively to the behaviors. The predator, from these well-thought-out and executed grooming behaviors and activities, tries to re-work and reduce the moral confines of the victim. Since the abuse survivor participated in the re-calibration, she often experiences deep feelings of shame, initially blaming himself for the incident and hesitant to report it.

Furthermore, beyond the abuse has been revealed, victims of private school abuse are frequently exposed to discreet social pressure and intimidation, such as being bullied, isolation from their peers, or revenge from teachers. Especially at boarding schools, where academics are rigorous, competition can be intense and social circles small, survivors of abuse could be quickly isolated and socially abused. Subjected to such reactions, many boarding school abuse victims that have revealed the abuse leave school. Others, fighting with the prospect of the isolation and social abuse, report the abuse a while later. In either situation, the impact can be significant and life-altering.

Some abuse survivors bear 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 difficulty establishing and maintaining healthy relationships. Individual therapy and support groups may assist victims overcome these effects.

Legally, a survivor of boarding school abuse can receive financial compensation from the abuser and more frequently, from the school for its failure to protect the student from the abuse, as well as failures or negligence in its method 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 discuss your story and learn of your legal options at no cost or obligation, we are ready to talk with you. It is important for a victim to remember that being a victim is not your fault. The attorneys at Meneo Law Group are committed to bringing those responsible for the assault to justice.