A message to Nicholas Debenham

Discussion of the children's schools in the UK.
PF

A message to Nicholas Debenham

Postby PF » Tue Aug 17, 2004 5:42 pm

I attended St James between 1975 and 1989. My intention of writing this is to let Mr Debenham know of my experience during that time as I would like him and others to know what was going on. I do not believe by writing this I will change his view of corporal punishment - but I would like him to read it and acknowledge my experience. He has always talked about honesty and truth. Well this is my truth and I would like him to hear it!


I started at St James at the age of 4. I think my class was the third to go through the system. As I write this I am brought back immediately to the feeling of being at St James: fear. Fear permeated every aspect of the school. My fear was of getting it wrong and being beaten, hit, ridiculed or shamed. The ?lesson? I was taught was to keep my head down and try and keep out of trouble. I was hit on the back of my hand with two rulers for getting maths wrong. I invented a ?clip gun? a method of firing board clips at each other without being seen. As soon as this was discovered the whole class was beaten. If I received more than 10 bad marks, I was beaten. My whole class was often beaten for the misdemeanours of one. I once wrote in a text book. Mr Debenham saw me on Friday evening and told me he would decide on Monday morning whether or not I would be beaten. I remember the anxiety of that weekend very clearly. In the early years, if one of us spoke out of turn, used a swear word or lied, the teacher would put on your tongue the chemical they put on your nails to stop you biting them The result was nausea and vomiting. I remember having to literally wash my mouth out with soap. I remember the incidents and the names if anyone doubts the veracity of this.

There were many other incidents: Mr Mottram's class all caned for meeting girls outside Burger King in Victoria. Mrs Debenham asking you for your shoe - making you take your trousers down in the front of the class and then beating you with the shoe. I could go on...

Strangely, when we were older we were beaten less and yet we were subjected to equally humiliating punishments. One of our teachers (Mr Barnard) took several members of our class down to the gym at Ecclestone Square put us on the gym mats and told us to face forward. We were not allowed to look at him. He then proceeded to tell us how we were all ?scum? and the lowest of the low. This abusive ?lesson? went on for about half an hour. I also remember a few weeks before our English Literature ?O?Level having to pick up and put down hymn books for several hours. What a great education we received !!!!


I have suffered from ?anxiety? as it is now called. But its other name is fear. I directly attribute this to St James. The school was not a place of love, it was not a place where children could learn in a supportive atmosphere, it was not a place of warmth or compassion. Nor was it a great school. I realise that every person who attended that school had a different experience. Some were less affected than others. But this was my experience.

Despite my school education I qualifed as a barrister. I find it strange that a school that loved law and discipline repeatedly breached individuals basic human rights. The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that a stepfather caning his son with a bamboo cane was not ?reasonable chastisement? and was therefore not a defence to assault. In the case of A v. United Kingdom (100/1997/884/1096) in September 1998 the European Court of Human Rights released its judgment, unanimously finding that the punishment of the boy amounted to "inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" (prohibited under article 3 of the European Human Rights Convention). The boy was awarded ?10,000 compensation. Just think how costly that wouldbe been at St James & St Vedast.


My belief is that Mr Debenham thought what he was doing was right and that he was trying to educate children. As he knows 'educate' comes from the Latin 'to lead'. His leadership oversaw pain and suffering. Perhaps in his retirement he will now realise from reading this and other accounts that his method did not work. In fact he caused suffering. An acknowledgement of my experience and others would help in letting it go.

PF

dan
Posts: 30
Joined: Mon Feb 16, 2004 4:39 pm

to Paul

Postby dan » Wed Aug 18, 2004 8:10 am

This well written statement really brings back the horror of my St vedast days. It is a really strong argument against schools being allowed to use physical punishment on children (finally acted on by government in the 1990s) . Who in their right mind would want to be violent towards children - who still believes in corporal punishment?

...Oh that's right - Nicholas Debenham does.

If the law had not changed in the late 1990s, Debenham would still have been caning children up to his long-overdue retirement from St James school in 2004. 'The buck stops here' he said on national TV in the 90s. When asked recently about beating minors, he did admit that beating does not actually improve children. Yet he has spent his career inflicting pain on children using sticks and arguing that he 'believes' in corporal punishment. How did he get away with it for so long?

....possibly because indoctrinated SES members continued to offer up their children sacrificially believing the cult was going to produce a new breed of 'leaders'. But now many of us are 'leading' a protest to urge these former abusers to publicly acknowledge the error or their actions.

Dan Salaman
Dan

gadflysdreams
Posts: 22
Joined: Fri May 28, 2004 6:30 pm

Postby gadflysdreams » Sun Sep 05, 2004 1:06 am

In your submission you mention thr european court of human rights.
Why is nobody on this website prepred to take this matter further?

Guest

Postby Guest » Sun Sep 05, 2004 11:00 am

Why is nobody on this website prepred to take this matter further?


I can only speak for myself and say that I think that a genuine and unqualified public apology from Debenham and his fellow abusers (for their disgraceful physical and mental abuse of children) would be more productive than lengthy, costly legal action which might not be successful.

I am part of a growing group of ex pupils who are actively seeking such an apology. The SES and its day schools have never officially or publicly recognised or acknowledged the error of their many stupid and damaging methods. With some encouragement I hope that they will start to do so.

dan
Posts: 30
Joined: Mon Feb 16, 2004 4:39 pm

Postby dan » Sun Sep 05, 2004 11:03 am

The above posting was from me - sorry forgot to login
Dan


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