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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Re: Bullying & Abuse - Take II

Post by sejintenej » Tue Nov 18, 2014 7:57 pm

michael scuffil wrote:'Homo'-sexuality in this context is a misnomer. You mean sexuality. There was no other kind available. It was regarded as a problem by the authorities and by many of the strait-laced boys. I'd just call it an inevitable phenomenon.
Just noticed this series of posts. Inevitable - I wonder though I would have expected it. When just up from Prep I was approached by a much older boy who quickly accepted that no is actually no and get lost (I didn't even have to repeat myself). I have a suspicion that that boy approached another boy but otherwise it was well hidden or non existant.
My biggest related problem at CH was with a non-practicing GP who had parental permission to take me out one weekend. That man didn't understand "No". I cannot ascribe any blame to CH for that - the man, married with a gorgeous daughter, was a neighbour at home and, like those in the papers, viewed as a paragon of honourable behaviour.
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Re: Bullying & Abuse - Take II

Post by Tommy » Wed Nov 26, 2014 11:03 pm

The one issue that I found with the "uniform" aspect being a great leveller is that it can show youngsters up in other areas. For a couple of years I was subjected to a constant stream of mental bullying. I was a late developer physically, thus seen as "immature", "uncool" and naturally became an easy target. As I really wasn't too sure how to deal with this, most of my responses met with yet more ridicule (and so it went on). Whilst I admit (with 20/20 hindsight) that I was probably not the easiest kid to get on with and didn't always "fit in", I don't for one moment think any of the verbal abuse I received was warranted. My 2 tormentors were mostly using me to boost their own low self-esteem or to appear as "top-dogs" in the dormitory.

I have to admit that I mostly took all my verbal lumps without flinching; sure it upset me, but it didn't make me terrified of venturing into the dormitory. I certainly wasn't physically up to taking either one of them on, so that wasn't an option. However, the abuse was a constant drain, and whilst I was generally fine with my own circle of friends, the bullying continued. And because it was never seen or heard by the Housemaster, I felt I had little choice but to endure it. On one night though, they were relentless. It went on and on - I threatened them with staff intervention (one was already on report so it would ruin his weekend plans) which of course it had no effect. The trouble was they then started throwing family insults into the mix and I am ashamed to admit that I cracked - they'd finally pressed my buttons. Wracked with tears I started off towards the door en route to the Housemaster's office. One tried to pull me back, and was cracked with a hard right hook. I don't know whether they were just pushing me as far as they could to see if I would crack, but once I reached that limit, they left me alone. Whether it was through pain, fear of punishment (or me!) or the fact they'd achieved their chosen task I don't know, but the seriousness subsided after that night. I still was on the receiving end of some unpleasant stuff but never again on that scale. I did have a long tearful chat that evening with said Housemaster, explaining what had gone on. I don't know if the two bullies were ever given a specific talking to about the scale of their mental torture or not, but one of them was gated for the weekend for yet another indiscretion (me reporting him).

Was it a tipping point in my development? Yes and no. I had finally learned where the line should be drawn, what made me angriest and how not to respond. I also understood how best to respond to verbal assaults (usually with humour). This was a dark time in my life that I have not revisited much until reading this thread. As a teenager at boarding school there was much pressure from your peers to be one the cool people and to fit in, and if you didn't fit the mould, you were usually pounced on by the bullies, either mentally or physically. And it's the mental aspect that I think was overlooked by the staff back in the 80s. It seemed that if you couldn't cope with what was considered a bit of horseplay, then you were not made of strong enough stuff. I have been through enough bad stuff in my life to realise that this was a pile of horse shoite and possibly enhances how blinkered the staff actually were...
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Re: Bullying & Abuse - Take II

Post by rockfreak » Wed Dec 03, 2014 8:18 pm

Tommy, I left CH in 1960 and fondly imagined that this kind of thing was over then. Indeed, Tub (Bryan Dowling) who was there at the same time but a little older than me said that he had a pretty good time of it and was devastated to read other people's posts giving a different impression. I've been busy reading Nick Duffell's two books, The Making of Them and Wounded leaders. Duffell is ex-public school and Oxford and he is of the opinion that boarding schools should be banned forthwith. He is a psychiatrist who has worked with what he calls "boarding school survivors" and his findings and diagnoses might perhaps ring a bell with what you have described. He goes further in Wounded Leaders and suggests that the effect on our national leaders (overwhelmingly public school) is damaging the country in all sorts of ways. Duffell's hypothesis is that while boarding school (at least when started young) may teach youngsters to survive and compete and grow up quickly, it can have a negative effect in later life in the suppression of the emotional and empathetic qualities.

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Re: Bullying & Abuse - Take II

Post by sejintenej » Fri Dec 05, 2014 4:51 pm

Rockfreak; whatever "they" might want to do about it what Tommy faced was, is and probably always will occur both inside and outside school. Tommy survived - weekly we hear stories about where school bullies force their victims into suicide and worse. It exists and in one form or another will continue. I give you examples from my own family.
1 My wife has Italian blood as has my grand-daughter so her complexion made her the but of nigger tpye bullying in school even though she is lighter than an ideal tanning salon outcome.
2 My grandson is dyslexic which led to his primary school headmaster declaiming "he will never do anything so I refuse to waste resources on him". At his next school they also did nothing for him but simply demanded that he teach backward pupils to his own detriment.
3 I have the same problem but to a lesser degree but what did CH do for me? D**n all.

I have come across psychiatrists (thank goodness I had learned enough to ensure that none of them tried to "heal" me) and I got sent to a professional course in communication run by some off the wall Theosophists who really did my head in and then came to London to try (unsuccessfully) to follow up in their actions; that took me years to recover from. Keep me a league away from Theosophists.

You wrote:
Duffell's hypothesis is that while boarding school (at least when started young) may teach youngsters to survive and compete and grow up quickly, it can have a negative effect in later life in the suppression of the emotional and empathetic qualities. and will, in one way or another, will continue
Makes a lot of sense BUT the big question is whether those changes allowed the subject / victim / whatever to live a more happy and satisfactory lifestyle than those who did not go through the ordeal.
I have not read his book so take my comments from that stance.
At an early age - nine and upwards- we learned to sway with the wind and live through what the bigger older bar stewards put upon us. At the end of the sausage machine we were spewed out with an education of sorts and no guidance as to how the outside world lives and no guidance as to what to do in the future - the idea of jobs, of money, of budgeting, dealing with the 48% of humanity who are female was never even mentioned. There is an organisation which has some parallels - the military. They are brought in, forced through a similar sausage machine and spewed out, often with as few useful skills and often with no guidance or support for life outside; how often do we hear about them going off the rails - PTSD etc which we also went through? The only difference is the age at whoich we learned to handle it which allowed us to survive. (I acknowledge that there is a record of one CH boy killing himself - compare that with the military)
Outside we are overburdened with those who reckon that because we CAN cope that we are "affected'" but is it a good affection or should we simply slump into the "grab every state benefit and screw the rest and those idiots prepared to try to do better for themselves" attitude we see all too often? Living (part time) abroad I come across the "can do" attitude and the "can't be bothered" attitudes far more openly than in the UK - guess which attitude I apppreciate though of course I am a Duffell "victim".
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Re: Bullying & Abuse - Take II

Post by rockfreak » Sun Dec 07, 2014 3:48 pm

I don't know how much it's changed in the boarding schools but of course years ago so much of the discipline was left to the older boys since two housemasters could hardly be on top of them all the time - although one housemaster in my era was on top of them in a rather different way and got sacked. It's said that at Eton in the 1960s, when the new headmaster Anthony Chenevix-Trench (known as Chauvinist-Stench in Private Eye) took office he had to call in the lordly senior boys and ask them how he should run things. This system is wide open to abuse depending on the wisdom of the appointments to prefects. Maybe it's very different at CH now. Certainly the You Tube footage depicts five-star luxury compared to my era. But is any of this a substitute for the 24/7 pastoral care of a stable home life, especially at the difficult time of puberty? The boarding schools used to turn out an assembly line of unquestioning soldiers and administrators for the empire. They learned hierarchy, class and authoritarianism at school and practised it on the younger boys because you needed these superior attitudes if you were going to go out and bash dusky foreigners around while nicking their oil, raw materials, etc, and not feeling guilty about it. The questions about boarding schools aren't entirely new by the way. In Wounded Leaders Duffell quotes the spy novelist John Le Carre who says: "When I ran away from my public school, I was being told that I was the last generation, and it was the Attlee government in 1945 and we were only going to have one kind of school, like other countries. Now we have an Old Etonian prime minister, an Old Etonian London mayor and they're scattered across the cabinet just as they used to be."

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Re: Bullying & Abuse - Take II

Post by J.R. » Sun Dec 07, 2014 4:48 pm

At last I'm getting used to your posts, Freaky !!

Simple question - Have you seen the film 'IF' ?

If so, I would be interested in your comments in respect of you alleged CH experiences.
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Re: Bullying & Abuse - Take II

Post by Fjgrogan » Mon Dec 08, 2014 8:10 am

I still cringe whenever I think of the film 'If' - I was convinced that 'outsiders' might think that CH was like that! It didn't help that my uncle was the production accountant on the film and had a small part as an extra (he appeared as a gowned master coming out of chapel). But I loved the background music, the Sanctus from Missa Luba - my vinyl LP went missing many years ago, but my husband recently acquired another copy from a jumble sale. I guess it is available somewhere on CD?
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Re: Bullying & Abuse - Take II

Post by rockfreak » Mon Dec 08, 2014 8:19 pm

Yes JR, I saw Lindsey Anderson's film when it first came out and I am in no way suggesting that CH in my era was as bad as that, although one thing that did ring a bell was the CCF manoeuvres day shown in "If", which was just as hilariously shambolic as the one I remember when we got blancoed and brassoed up in order to make a mock assault on Sharpenhurst. My own experiences in the 50s involved everything from savage beatings for minor offences, up through sometimes fair but occasionally thuggish monitors, to a more enlightened regime in my last year, 1959/60, when head of Col B was one of Cherniavsky's history pupils destined for Oxford, Bob Leach, a lovely guy whose study was open house for anyone who wanted to discuss politics, art, music or indeed anything at all. Bob's study was a bit like an 18th century Paris salon of the Enlightenment if rather more crowded and it was this period that awakened my interest in current affairs and much else. Although you still had to watch out for the mad, bible-bashing Welshman "Bogey" Fryer, our housemaster who swung a mean cane for offences that could have been sorted with a quiet admonition.
I still hold to my original point that public schools should have been abolished a long time ago. No other developed country has quite this system. Frances Grogan gives away one of the seductions of these places with her mention of church music. In spite of my cynicism I think I would probably well up on hearing the CH Leavers hymn again. I've never heard it sung anywhere else. And this of course is the deliberate ploy. Just as art and music were employed during the Counter-reformation to bring the doubters back into the fold. This is the dreadful emotional bind that some of us are still in. Even when those Cambridge spies defected suddenly to Moscow, Burgess took his Old Etonian tie and Philby his Westminster scarf.

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Re: Bullying & Abuse - Take II

Post by Fjgrogan » Tue Dec 09, 2014 9:11 am

Aw, c'mon! Whilst I confess to a liking for some church music, in this particular case what attracted me was the primeval (savage?) beat, definitely illustrative of the savagery happening in the film. I was unaware at the time that it was either 'church' music or African. Or perhaps that just proves Rockfreak's point that I was being subliminally influenced? I have certainly never shown any interest in Africa since - the nearest I have ever been to the continent was a few hours ashore in Port Said en route to Australia, definitely not inspirational in any way, subliminal or otherwise!
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Re: Bullying & Abuse - Take II

Post by J.R. » Tue Dec 09, 2014 2:05 pm

rockfreak wrote:Yes JR, Bob Leach, a lovely guy whose study was open house for anyone who wanted to discuss politics, art, music or indeed anything at all. Bob's study was a bit like an 18th century Paris salon of the Enlightenment if rather more crowded and it was this period that awakened my interest in current affairs and much else. Although you still had to watch out for the mad, bible-bashing Welshman "Bogey" Fryer, our housemaster who swung a mean cane for offences that could have been sorted with a quiet admonition.

SO YOU AND I MUST KNOW EACH OTHER THEN !!

I did excperience Bogey's skilful art of caning. R.H. Hewitt on the other hand was pretty feeble with that form of punishment.

(p.s. I've just checked your personal details. The name is very very vaguely familiar, but I can't put name and face together.)
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Re: Bullying & Abuse - Take II

Post by rockfreak » Tue Dec 09, 2014 8:47 pm

Fjgrogan wrote:Aw, c'mon! Whilst I confess to a liking for some church music, in this particular case what attracted me was the primeval (savage?) beat, definitely illustrative of the savagery happening in the film. I was unaware at the time that it was either 'church' music or African. Or perhaps that just proves Rockfreak's point that I was being subliminally influenced? I have certainly never shown any interest in Africa since - the nearest I have ever been to the continent was a few hours ashore in Port Said en route to Australia, definitely not inspirational in any way, subliminal or otherwise!
Sorry Frances, I was assuming this was more orthodox church music you were talking about! Ignore my comment.

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Re: Bullying & Abuse - Take II

Post by rockfreak » Tue Dec 09, 2014 9:04 pm

Hello JR, I was a lad with fair hair and glasses. I do remember you as a slim youth with a mop of fair hair. In one of Col B's house pics I believe you are standing behind the scholastically able but eccentric Timothy Dickinson (or Dicko as our American visitor Peter Flynn used to call him). Is that right? I achieved pretty much sod all at CH apart from getting a charcoal sketch in the school art exhibition one year and getting a Penguin book as a class prize from Gad for something or other. I have it today still, A Book of English Essays, with a strange oval stamp inside saying "This book Christ's Hospital belongs to" - syntax that definitely wouldn't have impressed Gad. I think this may have predicted my liking for essays, reviews and journalism rather than long-winded novels and nudged me into work in magazine journalism. Otherwise, my time at CH involved far too much time playing football and cricket on the asphalt.

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Re: Bullying & Abuse - Take II

Post by J.R. » Wed Dec 10, 2014 1:36 pm

You've got it !

I was Flynn's Swab for his year. Did you know that he went on to become a Judge in the US ?

Are you in that photo or not ?
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Re: Bullying & Abuse - Take II

Post by michael scuffil » Wed Dec 10, 2014 6:31 pm

"I still hold to my original point that public schools should have been abolished a long time ago."

In the form that you knew them, they have been.

But if I ruled the world, I would send all adolescents between the ages of 13 and 16 to such institutions* (they're no place for prepubescents, and by 19 the system will have at least begun to corrupt you). They would endure the physical discomforts and lack of privacy that we did, but not the lack of hygiene or the arbitrary (in)justice.

*given that the loathing between them and the rest of society is mutual and intense
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Re: Bullying & Abuse - Take II

Post by rockfreak » Wed Dec 10, 2014 9:29 pm

I'd appreciate a few more posts on this matter from other people. Are Michael Scuffil and Sejintenej (aka Banker Brown) alone in their belief that children, or at least adolescents, in this country are all a bunch of irredeemable yobs and hooligans? Considering that neither of them appears resident here, they seem to have a pretty generalised view of things. My three girls went to the local comprehensive. Indeed the middle one went to Grammar for a year and was holding her own academically but found the other middle-class girls a bit stand-offish (parents Telegraph readers rather than Guardian readers, perhaps). So we took her out and sent her to the local comprie with her old mates from the locality and she flourished. She's now studying to be a teacher.
The youngest was creative and ended up getting a degree at uni. The eldest was a ladette before the term was invented (she wouldn't have lasted a week at CH), she achieved nothing at school but worked out her own niche after she left. For a while she did care work with old people, often suffering from dementia, and then with severely mentally and disabled adults, and turned out to have a natural talent for it. On the minimum wage all the time, she took a pride in getting to know her residents and trying to give them the best day possible. I was proud of her. But I suppose in the limited worldview of Messrs Scuffil and Brown she wouldn't have MADE IT.
I get a bit fed up with pointing out to thick-headed Old Blues that if we have an underclass in this country it's because the snotty rich (including snotty Old Blues from our beloved supposed CHARITY SCHOOL) baulk at paying more taxes for education and social support services. In Denmark the top rate of tax is 55%, ten points more than here, but I don't see a stream of Danish businessmen hi-tailing it to the UK. I guess in the end there's an old adage that predates Mrs Thatcher and her fancy ideas, and that is that you get what you pay for.

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