Private and public boarding schools are trusted by parents to be safe places. Unfortunately, that's not always the case. Our attorneys regularly see cases of molestation and abuse in such schools. Many parents pay a considerable amount of money for tuition to private schools, with the impression that such institutions are safer and more closely monitored than public schools. You're here because:
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However, this is not necessarily the case, as suggested by many recent lawsuits filed by victims and loved ones who allege a number of private schools condoned various forms of sexual abuse, both committed by staff members and between students. In reality, there are several features unique to boarding schools and private schools in general that make it particularly easy for predators to perpetuate abuse.
Many private schools are well-known in their communities, with illustrious histories and traditions. Much more than with public schools, parents and students are encouraged to take pride in attending a particular private school, to the point where being a student or alumnus of the school may become an important aspect of one’s identity.
That can make it particularly challenging to report abuse. Students may be afraid of being ostracized from the community they’ve invested so much into, as well as being linked to a scandal that may affect the fellow students and teachers that may have become as close as family to them. They may also fear that reporting could make them prime targets for resentment and bullying.
Many private schools also have longstanding religious affiliations, which can make it even more difficult for children to report abuse, due to fear of being ostracized from their religious communities or even from their families and friends.
Boarding schools require children to live away from their parents, rendering them much more vulnerable to manipulation and outright predation. Students also may room in dorms where teachers and other adult staff members also reside, providing dangerous access to potential predators.
Since children at boarding schools may go long periods without visiting their families, parents may not notice differences in behavior signifying signs of abuse, and children may not have much chance to tell their parents about what’s happening.
Boarding schools and other types of private schools are known for having insular student cliques, which have an unspoken, often destructive culture that may nevertheless be tolerated by school officials who must avoid upsetting students whose parents pay handsomely for tuition.
Prestige is a sought-after quality for such schools, and any hint of scandal can impact enrollment rates. Such schools may act more like businesses than educational institutions, leading them to neglect their duties as educators and stewards of children and youth.
A number of well-known boarding schools have been under fire recently for reports of rampant child sex abuse: