Boarding School Abuse denotes a range of criminal and improper activities often committed on students by school faculty members, administrators or employees regarding sexual assault of varying degrees. The attack may be a one-time, non-consensual abuse or it can include many assaults during an ongoing interaction. For example, an continuing intimate relationship with a student, formed by the predatory actions of a faculty member, school administrator or staff and whether heading to physical agreed sex acts or not, is a form of abuse.
Student on student sexual assault is an additional form of abuse, that can be compounded by the school’s negligence to provide a safe environment that allowed the attack to occur. Inside the school community are students of different ages, maturity and experiences. Immature students may be exposed to the predatory actions of older, more mature students. Their intent, coupled with peer-pressure exerted on both the attacker and the targeted victim, could lead to different types of abuse that includes sexual assault of varying degrees.
In all alleged Boarding School Abuse situations, a school administration’s megligence to completely, adequately report the assault to law enforcement and other authorities, or its additional failure to research, address and deal fully with the matter increases the effects on the abuse survivor, the school community and potentially others. Recent Boarding School Abuse cases reported in the media exemplify these failures, including situations when the attacker quietly departs the campus only to assume working somewhere else in a school environment.
Most private schools pride themselves on their small, personal communities within a well-defined and secure campus. In this environment, faculty, administrators and staff are often much nearer and familiar with students than would be expected in a non-boarding school setting. This may create both opportunity and cover to the would-be attacker and for the predatory behavior.
In some matters, the abuser could be a likeable and popular person, generally thought to be a positive addition to the school community. A targeted student might feel flattered that a well-liked superior in the school community has expressed special interest in him or her. Because of this popularity and involvement in the school community, abuse allegations against these criminals are often met with distrust, disbelief, and resistance from the community. Frequesntly, abusers have distance and judgment problems which manifest themselves in oddly friendly relationships with students that are beyond what are commonly anticipated. This creates a predatory path and opportunity for the attack.
All abusers, to varying amounts, use predatory methods that are generally known as “grooming,” or targeting a possible abuse victim. Below is a list of grooming behaviors used by predators who are in a position of authority in relation to the student.
Grooming is a main part of a predator’s ploy. In a boarding school setting, a predator usually works closely with small amounts of students, realizing every student’s needs and vulnerabilities. Once a victim is located and selected, these vulnerabilities – like being lonely, low self-esteem, emotional neediness, or attention seeking behavior, could be systematically exploited in the following manners:
A predator will initially work to get the student’s trust. This step is most difficult to see as boarding school communities are often tight-knit and personal engagement is commonplace. Here, the attacker is usually 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 may start to rely more and more on the predator for whatever need it is that the predator is leveraging and fulfilling. The victim may spend more time with the predator, feeling more comfortable with the relationship. Additionally to attention and affection, the potential victim might receive gifts from the predator, including valuable, gifts such as the promise of high grades, or a college recommendation letter. The reliance stage is usually where the predatory behavior is distinguishable from well-meaning collegial behavior.
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