Bullying & Abuse - Take II

Share your memories and stories from your days at school, and find out the truth behind the rumours....Remember the teachers and pupils, tell us who you remember and why...

Moderator: Moderators

Post Reply
Cleopatra
2nd Former
Posts: 11
Joined: Sat Feb 26, 2005 3:50 pm

Bullying & Abuse - Take II

Post by Cleopatra » Tue Jul 24, 2007 6:35 pm

Back due to popular demand... :D

I'm curious to know perceptions of bullying and abuse at CH from different eras.

During my time at Housey the culture changed considerably. When I joined in the 2nd form, I was ascribed a pupil on the year above as my 'nursemaid' - an older pupil who was supposed to look out for you and help you find your feet. He was also the "QM", meaning that he was in charge of the dormitory after lights out.

Those who were in Lamb at the time may recall the individual. He was the hulking great bundle of muscle and issues that flipped during one prep time and began launching pool balls at people's heads down the length of the dayroom. The dents in the back wall are most likely still there to be seen. It was a 'kin miracle no one was killed. The Housemaster in his infinite wisdom decided that this was no reason for expulsion though - multiple attempted murder being regarded as more of a misdemeanor in those days.

My 'nursemaid' decided the best way to conduct his pastoral duties over me was to jump off his bed each night, on to mine, landing with the full force of his knees on my head. In hindsight I was an admittedly obnoxious little squit, borne through naivety mainly, but I spent my first two years in total 'kin misery because of him and his ilk, and the abuse he dished out was criminal - literally.

I certainly wasn't the only one. D, a friend of mine's had an equally abusive 'nursemaid'. He used to make D fight him in the middle of the dormitory every night (whilst my own tormentor looked approvingly on, natch). D was quite handy, but so was the older lad, and he was twice his size, so D would go to bed bruised and battered, repressing his tears every night.

As it happens, D's nursemaid turned into a very decent man by the time he reached the Grecians. By that point, the culture had swung massively, and I recall older pupils being in serious trouble for 'only' verbal abuse of younger children.

My own bully was eventually expelled, and I wonder whether he's avoided prison since. In all honesty (and having now worked in relevant areas of social care) he was in need of help that CH just wasn't equipped to provide, so maybe he's got himself sorted now.

What I find incredible though, is that my Brother, who left CH as I joined, suffered much worse brutality, partly with the complicity of his housemaster in Leigh Hunt.

Is CH now a place that kids can feel safe in? And for older forum members; was it always as brutal or more than it was during my era? (90's)



On the 'where's that thread gone?' thread someone suggested I include my response as a child and as an adult.

At the time, I was in hell. If I didn't have such an incredible family, I probably would have topped myself.

Now, I don't feel 'scarred' by my experiences, but I think this is more a reflection on my own psyche than anything. A different person could have been affected very differently. I do have a few self-esteem issues, but I'm not convinced the two things are related.

What was a real revelation was that on starting University, I found my world had changed completely. I had left CH with the idea that I was, despite my own best efforts, an fairly irritating and unlikable person. At Uni though, I found that this seemed to be anything but true. In fact, the students that generally rubbed everyone up the wrong way and ended up spending their time alone tended to be those that were the popular kids at school. They expected to be able to carry on at Uni as they had at school and quickly found that their peer group no longer appreciated their exclusive attitudes and egocentric behaviour. - Justice of a sort I think.

Rex
GE (Great Erasmus)
Posts: 128
Joined: Sun Dec 05, 2004 7:01 pm
Location: Leith

Bullying and abuse

Post by Rex » Tue Jul 24, 2007 9:08 pm

Welcome back, and as I said on the original version of this thread, in the junior houses at the start of the Seventies there were quite a few boys who'd have fitted in just fine at Abu Ghraib.

Reuben
3rd Former
Posts: 40
Joined: Fri May 11, 2007 2:29 pm
Real Name: Reuben Harris

Post by Reuben » Wed Jul 25, 2007 12:47 pm

I mentioned my own torturer-in-chief by name in the original thread, and in my calmer moments I can almost see why this was a bad idea. Following a tip-off by private message I have since learned that he committed suicide in 2000.

"Couldn't have happened to a nicer chap" was my initial uncharitable reaction but having researched a little deeper - his mother went on to write a book about depression and suicide in which he features prominently - my view has changed a bit.

It seems his own father also committed suicide when he was young, leaving his mother a single parent also suffering depression (not to mention different blokes every month). It all made for a pretty miserable childhood and, to my mind, explains a good deal about why he was so appallingly unbalanced. While I haven't suffered it myself, I have several times witnessed the devasting and life-long effects of parent suicide.

For me this became a rather interesting emotional experience: Nearly two decades of burning hatred and an intense desire for confrontation and revenge has been neatly erased, replaced with nothing more than a vague sense of sorrow that things couldn't have been different.

Could C.H. have done more? I am inclined to think so, yes. My bully's background fits an absolutely classic pattern... staff should have been watching him like hawks from the day he arrived. Secondly he should certainly have had some sort of long-term counselling while at school. Left to himself, his innate rage and loss found expression in the worst possible ways.
Barnes/Thornton 1982-1988

User avatar
cj
Button Grecian
Posts: 1738
Joined: Wed Mar 01, 2006 10:35 pm
Real Name: Catherine Standing
Location: Devon

Post by cj » Wed Jul 25, 2007 12:59 pm

That is a tragic story. And while I would never condone the behaviour of a bully, there is always a reason (not to be confused with an excuse) why a person behaves in the way they do. I felt for a long time, and still think that it is pertinent to the time I was there, that CH wasn't equipped in many ways to take in the children for which it was established.
Catherine Standing (Cooper) Image
Canteen Cath 1.12 (1983-85) & Col A 20 (1985-90)

Any idiot can deal with a crisis. It takes a genius to cope with everyday life.

wurzel
Deputy Grecian
Posts: 289
Joined: Wed Jul 04, 2007 1:59 pm
Real Name: Ian
Location: Reading

Post by wurzel » Wed Jul 25, 2007 1:51 pm

I must have been a contemporary of your brother as I was in LHA from 85-89 I would have said I was one of the more hassled people (I would suspect Reuben might remember that me, veggie & a guy called pinhead got the worst of it at our time in LHA) but I didn't find it that terrible. I think the housemaster was more blissfully unaware than complicit

Most bullying was of the get me a cup of tea or I'll jump on you variety or acts of late sat night drunken stupidity. Generally it was pecking order stuff rather than malicious brutality

Who is your brother out of interest (clues are good enough), I have used our nicknames of the time to comply with moderation

matthew
GE (Great Erasmus)
Posts: 122
Joined: Wed Jan 12, 2005 11:29 pm
Real Name: Matthew Powell
Location: Toronto, Canada

Post by matthew » Wed Jul 25, 2007 2:13 pm

I'm sure the whole nursemaid thing worked out well for some people. I was warned mine was a psycho on my first day. I didn't believe it at first.

He ended up bundling me into a laundry bag and dragging me down several flights of stairs. I'm actually surprised Horsham A&E wasn't involved.

That particular incident didn't go unpunished. The house staff could hardly ignore it, since one of them walked in on it. But that really was the exception: for the most part, assault was considered innocent horseplay. Stealing a biscuit, on the other hand -- now that would really have got you in trouble.

I think I've made this point somewhere before. I'm glad things are better now.

User avatar
Ajarn Philip
Button Grecian
Posts: 1787
Joined: Sat Jul 14, 2007 7:30 pm
Real Name: Phil Underwood
Location: Thailand

Post by Ajarn Philip » Wed Jul 25, 2007 3:09 pm

matthew wrote:I'm sure the whole nursemaid thing worked out well for some people. I was warned mine was a psycho on my first day.
I wasn't warned, which is probably just as well. My nursemaid, bless 'im, often amused himself, with the aid of a horse-faced crony, by "operating" on me. Squeezing nipples, applying toothpaste to extremely sensitive areas, flushing head down toilet, and other similar charming boyish japes. Fortunately, I've forgotten most of the details.

I went on to value my years at CH as a very special time of my life, an experience I was extremely lucky to have and that served me well in so many ways in later life. But that first year was a frackin' nightmare...
I know exactly what words I am wanting to say, but somehow or other they is always getting squiffsquiddled around

Phil Underwood Ma A Col A Mid B 68-75

User avatar
J.R.
Forum Moderator
Posts: 14816
Joined: Wed Mar 09, 2005 4:53 pm
Real Name: John Rutley
Location: Dorking, Surrey

Post by J.R. » Wed Jul 25, 2007 3:28 pm

The bullying issue will never go away.

When I started in Prep B, I was a right little wimp that got bullied relentlessly.

By the time I was in my last year in Coleridge B, we had one nasty individual who really gave some of the new lads in the house absolute hell.

By now I was a strapping 6 footer and gave this person a right hiding for which I was beaten 6 stokes ny N.T. (Bogey) Fryer. I still don't have any regrets and I was the hero of the juniors.
John Rutley. Prep B & Coleridge B. 1958-1963.

User avatar
jtaylor
Forum Administrator
Posts: 1648
Joined: Sat Jun 05, 2004 12:32 am
Real Name: Julian Taylor-Gadd
Location: Wantage, OXON
Contact:

Post by jtaylor » Wed Jul 25, 2007 5:55 pm

I had a very rough time during periods at CH, and certainly my nurse-maid was less than supportive. I think I was a hinderance, and he didn't have any inclination to really help me and support me, and was extremely nasty on occassion.
Ironically he contacted me a few years ago via the forum, but thought that I was my brother! He went on to ask "was I the one with the iritating little brother" - shows how much he remembered his "squit"!

I guess that CH has a tough time managing the sometimes-difficult backgrounds many of its children come from - I only know now that some of the nastiest children were only kept at the school because their life was so disfunctional that expelling them would have been akin to bullying them itself. I agree though that they often didn't appear to be aware of the issues, and certainly didn't tackle them...
Last edited by jtaylor on Fri Jul 27, 2007 11:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Julian Taylor-Gadd
Leigh Hunt 1985-1992
Image
Founder of The Unofficial CH Forum
http://www.grovegeeks.co.uk - IT Support and website design for home, small businesses and charities.

User avatar
Mid A 15
Button Grecian
Posts: 2925
Joined: Thu May 19, 2005 1:38 pm
Real Name: Claude Rains
Location: The Patio Of England (Kent)

Post by Mid A 15 » Wed Jul 25, 2007 5:57 pm

Here we are again!

I posted a link to an earlier discussion previously so here it is again.

viewtopic.php?t=1234

Bullying certainly existed in my day at CH and I was on the wrong end of some of it. However I don't think CH was necessarially any worse than any other school, it just seemed worse because there was no respite for the victims away from the School which you would get at a day school. At a day school there would also be the possibility of moral support within the family network. At CH you were on your own.

There did seem to be a culture of pretending it didn't exist during my time amongst the masters which was not helped by the strong "non grassing" ethos of the time amongst the boys.

In my experience the feared strict Masters were far more "on top" of what was happening in their houses, Dining Hall and classrooms than the "nice guys" and were the only ones to make some sort of attempt to address the issue.

I can only think that the prevailing attitude in the sixties and early seventies amongst most of the teaching staff (there were exceptions) was bully or be bullied. It was all part of the "toughening up" process. If you were bullied then it was your own fault because you were not tough enough mentally, physically or both.

If that was not the case then I don't know why the problem was so often ignored as any halfway astute supervising Master could hardly miss some of it!

I don't know whether I've remembered or elaborated on all that I posted previously but, having read other posts, I see that some people were bullied by their "nursemaid." I have to say that in contrast I could not have had a better nursemaid than Jonathan Wansey (hopefully names are ok in a positive context will remove if not! [absolutely fine! - Mod) who showed a lot of patience towards a homesick little squit who took ages to learn how to "do" his bands!
Ma A, Mid A 65 -72

Katharine
Button Grecian
Posts: 2934
Joined: Mon Dec 26, 2005 10:44 pm
Real Name: Katharine Dobson
Location: Gwynedd

Post by Katharine » Wed Jul 25, 2007 6:25 pm

Mid A 15 wrote: I have to say that in contrast I could not have had a better nursemaid than Jonathan Wansey (hopefully names are ok in a positive context will remove if not!) who showed a lot of patience towards a homesick little squit who took ages to learn how to "do" his bands!
How many Wanseys were educated at CH, there were at least three sisters at Hertford when I was there, and I think they had twin brothers at Horsham, did Jonathan have a twin?
Katharine Dobson (Hills) 6.14, 1959 - 1965
Don't worry about the world coming to an end today. It's already tomorrow in Australia!

User avatar
Mid A 15
Button Grecian
Posts: 2925
Joined: Thu May 19, 2005 1:38 pm
Real Name: Claude Rains
Location: The Patio Of England (Kent)

Post by Mid A 15 » Wed Jul 25, 2007 6:36 pm

Katharine wrote:
Mid A 15 wrote: I have to say that in contrast I could not have had a better nursemaid than Jonathan Wansey (hopefully names are ok in a positive context will remove if not!) who showed a lot of patience towards a homesick little squit who took ages to learn how to "do" his bands!
How many Wanseys were educated at CH, there were at least three sisters at Hertford when I was there, and I think they had twin brothers at Horsham, did Jonathan have a twin?
Yes he did, David.

On the theme of how many from the same family, there were three Pratts in Maine A when I started: Graham (the Housecaptain), Robin and Martin. I seem to remember being told that there was an older brother too. Maybe they had sisters?
Ma A, Mid A 65 -72

Reuben
3rd Former
Posts: 40
Joined: Fri May 11, 2007 2:29 pm
Real Name: Reuben Harris

Post by Reuben » Wed Jul 25, 2007 9:54 pm

My nursemaid was Steve Usher-Wilson. Can't remember much about him, so I guess he must have been alright.

I remember on my 2nd form, when I was in the pit of misery - terminally homesick, depressed, etc - a kindly U.F. called Rupert Hopcraft took me to one side and gave me the most wonderful pep talk all about how it takes time to fit in at C.H., everyone suffers at first, but he was quite sure I'd get there in the end! I've never forgotten it, it was quite a remarkable spontaneous gesture from a 14 y/o boy to a 10 y/o. The sort of thing that gives one hope for the human race.
Barnes/Thornton 1982-1988

sejintenej
Button Grecian
Posts: 3103
Joined: Tue Feb 08, 2005 12:19 pm
Real Name: David Brown
Location: Essex

Post by sejintenej » Wed Jul 25, 2007 10:04 pm

Mid A 15 wrote:Bullying certainly existed in my day at CH and I was on the wrong end of some of it. However I don't think CH was necessarially any worse than any other school, it just seemed worse because there was no respite for the victims away from the School which you would get at a day school. At a day school there would also be the possibility of moral support within the family network. At CH you were on your own.

There did seem to be a culture of pretending it didn't exist during my time amongst the masters which was not helped by the strong "non grassing" ethos of the time amongst the boys.
Although I was supposed to have a nursemaid in the Prep I certainly don't remember any contact or even who he was so evidently he was not a problem.

There was minor bullying fairly frequently but in general the house monitors kept it under control except on two occasions that i remember - a false accusation made to the housemaster resulting in my getting beaten and the time when I was so badly beaten I was kept in the infirmary for treatment. The principal culprit (there were about 6 involved) was last heard of as a professor

As for the "ethos" it was a purely practical method of self-protection; if there was a suspicion of grassing it was made perfectly clear that the culprit would be pushed down the stairs as his feet were hooked away upwards.
It is hard to make a comeback when you haven’t been anywhere.

East Gun Copse
2nd Former
Posts: 18
Joined: Tue Jul 26, 2005 4:30 pm
Real Name: Spencer White

Post by East Gun Copse » Fri Jul 27, 2007 7:28 pm

I've been quite surprised following this thresd to see how bullying continued into modern times. In the 40s & 50s the discipline was very much in the hands of the monitors. Most rose to the responsibility and acted fairly in the way they administered punishment. The norm was beating with the girdle which was accepted as par for the course. There was one exceptional person who abused his position especially with one particular boy and beat him to the extent of injury. On that occasion a group of other boys took action and approached the housemaster who I believe demoted that monitor. I had thought that after Flecker left the staff were more involved in discipline but it appears they were not hands-on sufficiently to stop the bullying we've read of.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest