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Experiences Shared


All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Jonathan’s parents lived abroad, and he was sent to boarding school from a young age. There, he was abused on three occasions by Lawrence, who worked at the school as a cricket coach.

Although he says therapy is having a positive effect, it has taken him many years to find the courage to seek help.

The abuse took place twice during visits to the cinema and once on the school grounds. Jonathan says he was aware that another boy had made allegations about Lawrence, but these were determined by the school to be ‘inappropriate behaviour’ rather than abuse.

Jonathan was asked by the school headmaster whether Lawrence had done anything to him. Jonathan says he was so young at the time he did not really understand what had been happening to him. He also thinks that possibly fear of the headmaster’s authority led him to say nothing. The boy left the school soon afterwards.

Some years later, when Jonathan’s wife became pregnant, he decided to seek help through counselling. He did not want his previous experiences to affect his relationship with his future child. After six months of therapy he decided to contact his former school.

Jonathan found discussions with the school frustrating. They referred him to the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO), who acted as a point of contact between various bodies. Jonathan was confused about the role of the LADO and felt the school should have dealt more directly with his allegations.

He did learn from the school that Lawrence was in prison and was told that he should report directly to the police. He was put in touch with the officer who had dealt with Lawrence’s case for an earlier offence. A number of other complainants came forward.

Jonathan says that vulnerability has many nuances that cannot be properly addressed by simply following procedures and protocols. For example, when the headmaster interviewed him over allegations of suffering by another boy, it was kept within the school environment. He believes that his parents, social services or even the police should have been present: ‘I thought the headmaster just asked him if Lawrence did anything to him.’

Jonathan does not feel that the school has, or ever will, properly answer him or the written questions raised by his parents when they were told of the abuse. He adds that they should have contacted the parents of former pupils at the school but has been told that they were advised against it. Jonathan also discovered that three other former employees of the school had subsequently been placed on the sexual offenders register, although after they had left the school.

His parents were unaware of the abuse. Now that he has told them about it, although they have been very supportive, it is still ‘an elephant in the room’ between them.

Jonathan says he finds it difficult to express anger and is now only just starting to discuss his experiences with his wife, who was herself abused at a young age.

In his late teens and early 20s, Jonathan suffered from clinical depression.

He describes how bad he felt when he was unable to help friends going through difficult times and says perhaps this mirrors his experience at school when he did not help the other boy who was being abused.

As a parent Jonathan feels strongly that schools have a responsibility to share information with parents and their first duty should be to act as guardian and carer to the child.

He says that if the previous employment history of sexual offenders was made public, it would help victims find information. He adds that he would want to know if his child was ever taught by someone who had a conviction for a sexual offence.

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