Monday, 5 August 2013

Roman Catholic education & child abuse A personal experience.

I see that the evil spectre of child abuse has arisen once again in a Roman Catholic school.
This time there is evidence that there was physical, sexual and psychological abuse carried out by male teachers on male male pupils at the Scottish Fort Augustus school during the 1950's & 1960's. The abusers were members of a Order of Benedictine monks.
I've been reflecting on this abuse & looking back on my educational experiences as a pupil of the Roman Catholic educational system.

In my formative years as a pupil in a Roman Catholic primary school, I both witnessed & was on the receiving end of physical and mental abuse.
I recall very clearly being literally force fed my school lunch by a nun- a member of the order of Sisters of Mercy, of being hit around the head by the same nun during a practice (of all things!) for my first Holy Communion.On both these occasions I was 6-7 years of age. I recall feeling fear (literally) if, & when this nun stood behind you as it came to signify that a slap around the head was coming.

One especially fearfully and troubling example of abuse I witness by this nun was when she actually tied a 6 year old boy to his chair (after first placing the chair on a table) because he wouldn't sit still.
I don't recall any incidents of sexual abuse, but the incident I witnessed where I believe, the thin edge of the wedge of abuse perpetrated by this nun.

I unfortunately suffered & witnessed examples of physical, mental & psychological abuse as a teenager within the Roman Catholic educational system. I was 15 years of age at a Roman Catholic secondary school when I was systematically physically and emotionally abused by a teacher. The 'man' I'm thinking of wasn't a member of any religious order, but seemed to take some delight in grabbing me  by throat, shaking me and threatening to "pumble me". This was frequently carried out in the presence of my class mates. I, & others, were frequently humiliated verbally by this teacher, told we were "stupid, a waste of time and energy, that we would never come to anything"  Often we were physically punished for the smallest demeanour.
I would love to meet these abusers today-especially the male teacher of my teen years. I would not resort to physical violence towards him, rather I would psychologically humiliate him as he did me.

Having said all this I believe that it was almost expected that pupils in the Roman Catholic schools during the 1950's & 60's were to be the victims of abuse. At best the behaviour/abuse was carried out in the belief that it would "break & mould the child" or at worst it was carried out to satisfy some innate perverse desire of the abuser. Either way it was unacceptable.

But I don't know hat to do about it.

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