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...

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sejintenej
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Post by sejintenej » Sun Nov 04, 2007 1:18 pm

huggermugger wrote:Hello all

I am a current parent and as some of you know have had some experience of how CH deals with bullying today, albeit in a fairly minor way.

One of the things that has impressed me most about CH are the support systems, formal & informal, which are in place. There is a Peer Support system in each house where they formally look out for each other, report back to a more senior group, who take action in the form of issuing warnings & refer it to the housemaster if necessary. It was this "early warning" system that first saw the problems with my son (I abbreviate this to DS), so that by the time I knew about it, action on this level had already been taken. (In our case, action was needed & taken by the housemaster as well.) There is a strong ethos, at least in DS's house, of looking after the younger boys.

In the front of the CH calendar they are given details & times of "confidential listening & support" from Mrs Mitra, both with & without appointment. Independent listeners, ie: not directly connected with the school, are also available in the form of (I presume local) clergy, contact details of whom are on noticeboards around the school.
Sorry this post is a bit wordy!
(Highly edited) Obviously CH now has an in depth and effective system incorporating both active overview and also a passive system whereby a pupil can voluntarily and presumably confidentially get a listening ear (and often that is enough).
In addition the medical side incorporates what I would expect - the staff can authorise anything but they are expected to contact parents if reasonably possible.

I think Caroline's post indicates a misunderstanding. Becoming suicidual takes time to develop and any competent housemaster, other teacher, matron should see it coming a long time in advance; they should have already contacted the family and gone from there. IF a pupil had got to that stage (or the staff thought so) then we are talkung about an acute situation - not a chronic one.
I didn't get to that stage but in my case Kit Aitken brought in his early-warning system when my mother died in term-time. It was to ensure I knew who and what help was available if I chose to obtain it and the school officially would not even know that I had taken that option. The idea was very much appreciated.
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Post by sejintenej » Sun Nov 04, 2007 1:40 pm

Ajarn Philip wrote: but I disagree with the conclusion.

"lack of competent counselliong in my opinion."

Agreed. Incompetence in any job is obviously A Bad Thing.
but in that case we are talking about a trained professional counsellor who unfortunately had a personal interest. Get sent to a counsellor and you don't know who you will get and it could be a person whom you hate on sight.
Ajarn Philip wrote:"Professional counsellors? The concept fills me with dread."

If I felt the need for counselling/therapy of any kind, I would expect to deal with a professionally trained person, who was completely independent of any institution that might have contributed to the problem in the first place.

Counsellors by any name have generally had a bad press, sometimes with good reason.
Sometimes we can't, and if/when that happens to me I can only say that I hope I am helped by a well-trained, competent, independent professional.
You bring up the American apparent obsession with therapists. They do exist here - and seem to be used to change personalities for gain.

OTOH we are talking here about recovery from trauma - often mental trauma. "well trained, competent" - fine; I doubt if anyone would argue with that but healing comes from within. There is no magic potion to take, hear, see which will cure such trauma. The "counsellor" needs to be able to force you to look at the situation in a different light, to bring out and get you to remember the good and not stress the bad side of the situation. Thus, although the situation still exists, you can accept it and look at it in the "cold light of day"

My argument was that the ideal counsellor will know and understand the full picture confronting the patient. If a belay has failed and your companion has died a counsellor is unlikely to be able to understand the full meaning if he or she has never gone above first floor level inside a house - he / she might not even know what a belay is. That ias why, on the track, another marshal is infinitely better qualified to listen than someone with no such background - but he/she must be prepared to give the necessary time.
Why? because you don't have to get over the time-consuming hurdle of getting to know and trust that person because you know their background and often you have already been trusting them with your life for the past several years. You know that they are helping because they want to - they are not in it for the money (but in this limited case perhaps they will need the same from you one day).
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Post by Mid A 15 » Sun Nov 04, 2007 11:06 pm

There have been references to real or perceived deficiencies regarding the School's handling of bullying in the past.

It is therefore heartening to read Huggermugger, as a current parent, speaking positively about the approach of the School in the here and now.

Maybe the negative experiences some suffered in the past have been learnt from which can perhaps put a positive slant on previous traumas and unpleasant experiences.
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Post by Katharine » Mon Nov 05, 2007 8:15 am

It gave me real delight to read Huggermugger's post. Things do look better than many of us feared/remembered. Let us hope that the Foundation has learnt from its mistakes of the past..
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Post by huggermugger » Mon Nov 05, 2007 9:23 am

Glad to have been of service :D (especially as you were all so supportive when DS & I had problems early in the term).

Inevitably, these systems will have been put in place partly as a result of lessons learnt both at CH and elsewhere. I feel strongly that the "suffering in silence" ethos (coupled with the "don't make a fuss", "least said, soonest mended", "you'll get over it" & the immortal "big girls/boys don't cry") had an awful lot to answer for. Actually I feel goose pimples forming...

In some ways and in some instances the "therapy culture" has gone a bit far. Sometimes in order to correct great wrongs the pendulum has to swing too far the other way until it settles in the middle. However, if it takes a bit too much public angst & over-sentimentality in order to create an atmosphere where children (& others) feel safe to share how they feel and ask for help, I'm happy with it.

On a more personal note, I had occasion to consult a counsellor a while ago (after years of trying to muddle through and eventually failing) and had to try a number of times before I found the right person. That may have been down to timing, me, them, their qualifications or any combination thereof. When I did find the right combination it was exceedingly liberating. My advice would be - get at least three quotes! :lol:

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Post by huggermugger » Mon Nov 05, 2007 9:24 am

oops - pressed the button twice; now edited away... :oops:

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Post by michael scuffil » Mon Nov 05, 2007 4:50 pm

CH in the 50s was pretty rough, but reading some of these items I get the impression that bullying as commonly understood was less prevalent. The peer pressure against it was enormous. What did make an enormous difference was the quality of the housemaster. There was little or no bullying in Thornton B because John Page made it his business to ensure that there wasn't. Not all housemasters cared so much. And some were bullies (not to put too fine a point on it: sadists) themselves. Headmasters, too, could make a difference, though in the nature of things they obviously couldn't be so hands-on. From hearsay I also gather that Seaman (who started the same term as I did) was also a new broom in this respect.

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Post by Great Plum » Mon Nov 12, 2007 1:25 pm

In the 90's the school did have a counsellor who was based in the Sicker...

I don't konw if they do now...
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Post by graham » Thu Nov 15, 2007 4:34 am

Yes, Plum is quite right. I had some emotional issues during my time and I was convinced to see the counseller. I think there was only one available. I personally found the experience quite unsatisfying. I later discovered this was probably a personal issue as I visited a different counsellor during my time as an undergrad at UCL and found that one extremely helpful.

I should say however that when my little breakdown occured, the support of my friends, matron and my housemaster were completely appropriate and appreciated. It wasn't a bullying issue but I think the response by staff would have been the same if it had been.
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Post by White Flag » Tue Nov 20, 2007 3:07 pm

Well in my time at CH( 70s ) some of us were picked on in a fairly brutal way. Councelling was not available and even if it had been you would only have picked on for getting it.
What a shame that I did'nt have the strength to hit back. Some of you were b####### for making my years at the school a nightmare.
Could do better !

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Post by sejintenej » Tue Nov 20, 2007 5:38 pm

White Flag wrote:Well in my time at CH( 70s ) some of us were picked on in a fairly brutal way. Councelling was not available and even if it had been you would only have picked on for getting it.
What a shame that I did'nt have the strength to hit back. Some of you were b####### for making my years at the school a nightmare.
Nobody is pretending that it didn't happen - it certainly did. However, there are two threads from this -
a) what improvements (if any) have been made, and
b) whether you have been able to learn from what you went through.

- regarding the first point it seems clear that there have been vast improvements since your and my day; kids now have it "easy" (well, relatively)
- as regards your situation you give very little real information. One has to ask whether you received physical injuries from which you have not recovered. (The person who had most influence in my younger years was literally set alight when he went to boarding school and carried the scars for the next 60 years of his life; he didn't allow it to affect him)

White Flag; I just hope that you read what follows - you might not like it but if it gives you something to think about, good.

Have you been able to move on - to regard it as a rather unpleasant period of your life which is now past and buried or do you carry a blade in the hope of meeting one of your aggressors in a dark alley?
Given that you had no real schooling what have you done to rectify the situation?
What has been the school's attitude when you have since notified them of what happened and the results of what happened?

We all have to go through good and bad periods (you may have heard the Chinese concept of 7 year periods). You are no different. There is an old saying that "God helps those who help themselves"; only if YOU take your present and future into your own hands, decide where YOU want to go, YOU plan your route to that objective and then YOU carry out that plan will you get anywhere. It is no use someone else trying to do that for you - only you understand what you want what you are capable of ** and eventually rejoicing at where you have got yourself to.

If you sit and mope then you have another 30 or 40 years of miserable moping and nobody is going to properly help you until YOU start doing something about your own life. Counsellors could be a short term solution to an acute situation - what happened to you happened nearly 3 decades ago so it is now chronic. You may not like it but you are one of tens of thousands (or even more).
Today is the first day of the rest of your life so start planning that life the way you want it, not the way some 1970's spotty-nosed overblown scumbags wanted it to be for that term.

I suggest that you ask the moderator to haul down that White Flag of surrender and hoist a flag saying "I'm me and don't you forget it".

I know how bullying affected me - I have phobias and I deliberately go out of my way to confront them almost every day of my life. I still have the phobias but I can and I do control them by understanding them and myself. Yes, occasionally I get bitter but whenb I went to Auckland recently I didn't seek out the barsteward who put me in hospital - that is behind me (or so he should hope . :twisted: )

** I know from personal experience that the human body and mind are capable of incredible feats once they get over the fear, the belief that they "can't do it". Don't forget that Leonides (?sp) and 30 others held back an entire army simply because they didn't fear the consequences.
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Post by englishangel » Wed Nov 21, 2007 9:39 am

Wow :rave:
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Post by White Flag » Wed Nov 21, 2007 11:29 am

A reply to sejintenej:

Could I ever forgive those who bullied me? No
Do I care about them? No
Have I done something with my life? Yes

And the question of who was to blame is still not adressed. Whas it the pupils was it the masters was it me or was it the school?

Thank you for your post I understand that you meant everything you have written.
And while I hated CH I am proud to have been a pupil! ( now I know I need help)
Could do better !

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Post by cj » Wed Nov 21, 2007 11:48 am

White Flag wrote:A reply to sejintenej:

Could I ever forgive those who bullied me? No
Do I care about them? No
Have I done something with my life? Yes

And the question of who was to blame is still not adressed. Whas it the pupils was it the masters was it me or was it the school?

Thank you for your post I understand that you meant everything you have written.
And while I hated CH I am proud to have been a pupil! ( now I know I need help)
That is a massive achievement if your time at school was so awful. Have you ever spoken about it to others? And how do you feel discussing it on this forum? (Choose to ignore or tell me to butt out if I'm asking questions which are too personal.) Without wishing to sound wishy-washy, and not knowing you or your situation, there is a lot of good will here with others who have suffered also.

I started to feel the same way as you after joining the forum (but completely different circumstances for me - not bullying fortunately). I can now see that CH had huge holes in its capabilities of dealing with difficult situations when I was there, but I can also now appreciate the good things about the place rather than tarring the foundation and all associated with the same negative brush. As for who was to blame for your bullying, who can answer that? On a practical level it has to stop at the top with the headmaster. If the climate allows for that sort of behaviour then it will prevail. If the sanctions applied to bullies are consistent and heavy enough then it will cease. It's also about children learning self-confidence and saying "enough" and not fearing retaliation. After all bullying doesn't stop when you leave school. It's everywhere, at work, home, in social life, with people wanting to take advantage of others for their own purposes.
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Post by sejintenej » Wed Nov 21, 2007 2:40 pm

White Flag wrote:A reply to sejintenej:

Could I ever forgive those who bullied me? No
So what? so long as you are not going to do something stupid ... just remember that it is the victim that they arrest / charge / imprison
White Flag wrote:Do I care about them? No
Good
White Flag wrote:Have I done something with my life? Yes
Good
White Flag wrote:And the question of who was to blame is still not adressed. Whas it the pupils was it the masters was it me or was it the school?
Why do you ask? It all happened in the seventies and those responsible are now long gone - some six feet under, some far away, some might even have become responsible people. There is absolutely nowt that you can do about it that hasn't been done already (which is to ensure that your succesors don't go through what you went through).
Since you can't do anything why waste brain cells dwelling on the past and think about the future.

If you really want an answer it is probably you who was responsible for either a) not being sufficient of the thug that it was others who suffered and b) you were different in some way - civilised perhaps? or c) you stood out as a target for the sadistic pranks of the thugs. There are not many alpha males around. **
White Flag wrote:And while I hated CH I am proud to have been a pupil! ( now I know I need help)

That qualifies you for membership of the club though I'm not sure what help you will get
:roll:


** my son is dyslexic which made him different from the rest at a church school. The thug who picked on him and stole all manner of things from him was son of one of the school sponsors so it vwas my son who lost out in the confrontation with the authorities. Years later when my son went to sign on, guess who the State had appointed to reduce the number of people job hunting!

There is bullying in various forms everywhere and the authorities are perhaps the worst; we just have to live with it. The latest is that they want umpteen more personal details so that they can distribute them to Post Office staff to lose /deliver to the wrong people - and there is nothing you can do about it.
I have had nearly a years subscription to a magazine not arrive - a complaint to the post office gets a response indicating that they are totaly disinterested and are not doing anything about it. On the bright side they return letters addressed to me to sender as "Gone away" or similar with no attempt to deliver them; they ared making me responsible for carrying out the investigation. Even the post office are bullies of one type or another..
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