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BULLYING

Elite Swedish school faces fine over hazing

The Swedish Schools Inspectorate (Skolinspektionen) has told the prestigious boarding school Lundsberg that it will impose a 500,000 kronor ($75,000) fine if it doesn't act to stamp out the practice of bullying and violence among pupils.

Elite Swedish school faces fine over hazing

“All pupils have an inalienable right to a safe school environment. Vulnerable pupils at a boarding school are in a particularly difficult situation, as they can’t just go home,” said Ann-Marie Begler at the Schools Inspectorate in a statement.

The Inspectorate expressed dissatisfaction at the action taken by Lundsberg to stamp out the practice, known as hazing, whereby older pupils discipline younger pupils, often with the used of violence and humiliating treatment.

“Pupils at Lundberg School are still being exposed to demeaning treatment, despite prior criticism from the Schools Inspectorate,” the agency concluded.

After the conclusion of an investigation into revelations of institutionalized bullying at the school in November 2011, the Inspectorate gave the school until February 28th 2012 to prove they could stamp out the practice.

On Friday the agency decided to impose the threat of a 500,000 kronor fine in order to encourage the school to accelerate its work to address the problems.

“We assume that those responsible for Lundsberg School, faced with the risk of having to pay a fine, will now effectively prevent and tackle all forms of degrading treatment of pupils,” Begler stated.

The Schools Inspectorate’s report confirmed witness testimony from former pupils and staff of an existing tradition of widespread bullying.

The agency described in its report how the principal and the teachers had failed to deal with the situation.

The principal admitted that there is a pecking order at the school and that it is important for the students to work their way up through the hierarchy in order gain use of a ”slave” themselves.

Lundsberg, along with the other two national boarding schools – Grennaskolan and Sigtuna Humanistiska Läroverk – are different from other schools in Sweden as they receive their permit from the government and not the Schools Inspectorate.

This means that ultimately it is the government’s responsibility to decide on the future of Lundsberg.

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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.