February 19, 2018
By Michael Hogan
An estimated one million people in Britain today went to boarding school. Increasingly, the extent of sexual abuse in these institutions is coming to light. Boarding Schools: The Secret Shame – Exposure(ITV) followed journalist Alex Renton, who was himself abused as an eight-year-old by his teacher, as he investigated how much schools knew about what was going on behind their closed doors.
Since going public four years ago about his own experience, Renton has built a unique database, created from the plentiful personal correspondence he has received from other victims. Here they spoke openly about the abuse they suffered, many for the first time, and how it contaminated their lives – “like having a toxin inside you”, as one powerfully put it.
The pattern was disturbing, with paedophiles grooming and habitually assaulting boarding students. If pupils reported abuse, it was hushed up to avoid scandal and protect the school’s precious reputation, meaning prolific abusers got away with it for decades. If they were “moved on”, according to the programme, they left with glowing references and continued teaching elsewhere, preying on more children.
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