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BOARDING SCHOOL SCANDAL

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Ex-staff speak out about bullying claims

A tasteless stage play in which a terrified boy had his face smeared with avacado and was forced to drink a “disgusting concoction” was what finally convinced the two former staff members at boarding school Lundsberg to report the school to the Schools Inspectorate.

“I noticed quite quickly that there was a strange power structure and lots of informal rules, unwritten rules which I understood were designed to intimidate and frighten younger children into obedience”, Jan Forsman told daily Svenska Dagbladet (SvD).

Forsman, himself a former boarding school student who worked for 22 years as a police officer in Stockholm went on to explain that the “play” in front of several staff members was the last straw for himself and colleague Daniela Fielding, who worked as a ”house mother” looking after the younger girls living in the school.

After witnessing the incident, the pair decided to report the school.

Fielding spoke of another incident where one of the girls had confided in her that the girl’s brother, also at the school, had been assaulted by an older boy during the night. When Fielding took it up with the school staff, she was simply told it was being dealt with already.

“There are structures that you might not expect in a modern society”, she said to TV4.

Fielding also claimed that parents as well as students are complicit in many of the events surrounding the scandal and that they are keen to not disturb the status quo, worrying, allegedly, that standards of discipline may drop, according to SvD.

Following the barrage of bullying claims following the initial one made by the two ex-members of staff, the police have launched an investigation into alleged assault, unlawful threats and coercing a minor at the prestigious school in county Värmland.

Meanwhile, the agency also announced last week that the other two boarding schools in Sweden – Grennaskolan and Sigtuna humanistiska läroverk – will be also investigated, following reports of systematic bullying and violence between students at Lundsberg and Grenna.

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SCHOOLS

‘Sweden’s Eton’ probed after new abuse claims

Sweden's Schools Inspectorate has demanded answers from Sweden's most elite boarding school, after one or more pupils were reported to the local police for alleged sex crimes.

'Sweden's Eton' probed after new abuse claims
Lundsbergs School is in Värmland,a three-hour drive west of Stockholm. Photo: Johanr/Wikimedia Commons
Lundsbergs Boarding School counts Sweden’s Prince Carl Phillip and the scions of some the country’s richest families among its alumni, earning it the title “Sweden’s Eton”. 
 
But the school has repeatedly faced accusations of severe bullying, with the Schools Inspectorate ordering it to be shut down in 2013 following allegations that boys were burned with hot irons by older pupils.
 
According to “unconfirmed information” published in Sweden’s Aftonbladet newspaper, the police investigation launched this week relates to a secretly filmed sex tape showing sexual abuse of female pupils. 
 
Björn Persson, acting head for the Swedish Schools Inspectorate's investigations wing in Gothenburg confirmed to Sweden’s TT newswire that he had been in contact with the school. 
 
“We have had telephone contact with the headmaster after which we decided to request a written report. We want them to explain what happened and what remedies have been taken,” Persson said.
 
According to Aftonbladet school staff reported one or more pupils to the police.
 
“I can confirm that we have received such notification and that it applies to several plaintiffs,” Anders Forsman of the local Värmland police told the newspaper. “It is the school management who made the complaint and it concerns incidents that are further back in time, but have been revealed now. This is not something which has happened this year.”
 
However, Aftonbladet newspaper reported on Thursday that a pupil had been hit with a belt, although the school’s headmaster Johan Harryson said this had been exaggerated. 
 
“Two students got into a serious disagreement with one another and we have sent one home for unacceptable verbal attacks. A belt was waved around, and there was contact with the belt at one point, but according to the victim the fright was the main thing.”
 
Harryson, who was appointed in 2014 to draw a line under the school’s problems, said the turnaround was still a work in progress. 
 
“We have worked extremely determinedly to make sure such things no longer happen, but we’re not there yet” he told TT. “It simply behoves us to keep working at it.” 
 
Sweden’s Schools Inspectorate in 2011 roundly condemned the school in a report claiming that younger pupils were regularly humiliated and abused by their seniors, with little attempt from the school's management to intervene.