Friday, May 28, 2010

Was I Abused at School?

The catholic establishment, right down to the Pope have issues. For splashed all over the news is story upon story of child sex abuse scandals melted out by catholic priests, bishops and all. Worse still are the stories that the Vatican went out of their way to keep the scandals under wraps.

Society deems the church as the pillar of strength, a source of guidance where people go to find inner strength, redemption and solitude. Even in war, as refugees, we take sanctuary in the confines of the church walls for in those confines, god will protect us.

When children look up at their peers, they have faith in them. They have faith in the headmaster, class teacher, housemaster right down to the priest of the church that they go to. If a child came back and told his parents that his housemaster or priest had touched him, nine out of ten times that child would have got a hiding – well at least in my days when I was still a lad and all this abuse stuff was very much under the carpet.

When I was at boarding school, (I can’t tell you which one though) strange things happened but because we had never heard of the word ‘abuse’ in relation to a sexual form, we didn’t think much about it. Our English housemaster was just like any other housemaster. He put us into line, made sure we had clean shoes, had laid our beds and more importantly to him, he made sure we had had a shower at the end of the day.

Alas, English Housemaster wouldn’t just take our word that we had all had showers. At 7:30pm, an hour before we were supposed to be in bed, we all had to line up at the foot of our beds for the ‘shower inspection’. English Housemaster would then walk down the aisle looking at each of us and if he suspected that you had not taken a shower, he would stop and beckon you to come forward. With an air of innocence about him, he would then thrust his hand down our pyjamas and feel our bottoms. If it was a cold bottom, it meant you had had a shower. A hot bottom meant you had not.

Okay so here we are in 1978 and just starting our teens when all this was going on. None of us then had heard of the word, paedophile. None us even suspected that out there, there are men who prey on young boys. So when English Housemaster was feeling our bottoms, we saw nothing wrong with it. He was our English Housemaster for Christ’s sake! Our parents had met him and he had come all the way from England to work in Kenya so what wrong could he do?

Asking some of the boys who were in that school when English Housemaster was there if they felt they had been abused, none of them was wiser for an answer. But today, if that incident happened, it would be all over the papers. It would be abuse and back then in 1978, it was still abuse.

The respect I was brought up to have for the church and men of the cloth dwindles by the day. How can anybody look at this man standing at the pulpit preaching the word of god then when you read the Monday papers the following day, you find out that he is into young boys?
Perhaps as a word of caution to parents, when your son tells you the most outlandish story that his housemaster or priest did this or that, do not berate the lad for not respecting his peers but investigate the matter.

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