When it comes to elite British and American private schools, certain keywords immediately catch our attention: sky-high Ivy League/Oxbridge acceptance rates, a long history of education, prestigious alumni circles including children of nobility, and top-notch learning environments.
Amidst the overwhelming rankings and Ivy League admission rates, parents are often dazzled by the “elite” attributes of private schools. Coupled with the exorbitant tuition fees that rival those of Ivy League institutions, it’s easy to assume that private schools offer the absolute best and top-tier education.
Rarely do people associate elite private schools with bullying, depression, autism spectrum disorder, and even tragic incidents of “death.”
Peeling back the glamorous facade of private schools reveals a disturbing reality, akin to uncovering a swarm of lice beneath a magnificent cloak. It is a sight that deeply disturbs and shocks.
01A Year Later, Apology Finally Comes After Fatal Bullying Incident
The Lawrenceville School, if you are not familiar with the United States high parents may not be impressed by the name, but as long as you have a little understanding of the United States, you will have heard its name ––
- Perennial top American boarding high school ranking TOP3, ivy school admission rate is far ahead;
- The campus is located 5 miles south of Princeton University, and tuition is as high as $76,000 per year;
- It is not too difficult to squeeze into this high school or even lose the TOP10 of the United States. It is not too much to say that the “rattan school” of the high school is not too much.
In a stunning revelation, a renowned high school has come under scrutiny after a student tragically lost their life due to relentless bullying.
Seventeen-year-old Jack Reid, who enrolled at the prestigious Lawrenceville High School in the fall of 2020, had even achieved the honor of being listed on the Dean’s List. However, rumors began circulating during the following spring semester, falsely accusing Reid of being a rapist.
Despite the unfounded rumors, Reid returned to campus in September 2021 and was even selected as the residential area chairman for his living quarters.
Ironically, the accolades he received only intensified the bullying he endured from his peers.
Reid faced attacks and malicious behavior from his classmates on campus and experienced constant anonymous harassment and defamation on social media platforms. The baseless rumors even spread beyond the school, deeply affecting the young boy’s psyche.
During a Christmas gift exchange activity, Reid received a rape whistle and a book on “How to Make Friends,” further exacerbating his distress. The absurdity of the rumors’ origin becomes apparent when one discovers that a classmate, who had previously faced disciplinary action for bullying Reid, started fabricating and spreading false information about him. This student was later expelled for unrelated reasons but falsely claimed that Reid was the cause of their expulsion while packing their belongings to leave.
Reid suffered tremendously from these baseless rumors and had reached out to his parents for help. Bill, his father, recalled his son asking if the untrue rumors would ever “go away.” Reid had also requested the school’s intervention, urging them to investigate both the bullying he endured and the unfounded sexual assault allegations against him.
This undoubtedly aggravated his psychological burden. Reid has been looking for ways to save himself, and while he has been treated coldly by the school, he has been receiving psychotherapy without revealing his ambition at the time.
The night he chose to kill himself, the boy put a Bible in his pants pocket and left a note directing his parents to the documents he left behind, which detailed every word of his helplessness and pain.
Now, a year after Reid’s death, school officials have finally come forward to admit their negligence:
“In hindsight, it becomes evident that there were measures that certain schools should have taken but failed to do so.”
“We realize, in Jack’s case, we have tragically failed,” expressed a school representative.
“Jack was widely recognized as an exceptionally kind and friendly young person, with unwavering social and civic responsibility and a bright future ahead. We will continue to mourn his loss,” they further added.
“We feel like we’ve been sentenced to life imprisonment without parole,” said Jack’s mother, Elizabeth. “All I want is for him to be back with us, but I can’t have that.”
This apology and remorse come too late. If it weren’t for the school’s negligence, perhaps this tragedy could have been avoided.
02Bullying, Depression, Autism, Homesickness... Elite Private Schools Extend Beyond "Elite" Label
Reid’s tragedy is hard to read without being heart-wrenching.
As more and more Chinese parents choose to study abroad for their children at a young age, such shocking news will not only be “news,” but more likely to become a real dilemma for children studying abroad.
The British private schools, which are comparable to the top boarding schools, are also the hearts of a large number of domestic parents.
British private schools are famous for their long history, outstanding achievements and good education – these are beautiful advertising words when the school is promoting. Many long-standing abuses of private schools, as well as the fact that many children are not suitable for private schools, are often intentionally or unintentionally ignored.
Concerned about the UK private school parents, especially female parents, must be familiar with Wycombe Abbey School, this school can be called “the UK’s first boarding school for girls,” tuition fees up to 44,000 pounds a year. Prime Minister Sunak chose this school for his daughter, and the ox-sword rate was as high as 30% +…
But this is not a promotional ad for Wycombe Abbey.
Caitlyn Scott-Lee, 16, died at Wycombe Abbey on April 21. That night she was found in the woods not far from the sports ground.
Caitlyn is a Chinese girl with autism. During the Easter break a few weeks before her GCSEs, she was found with vodka and a tattoo suit in her locker and was given a two-hour “headmistress’s detention.”
The punishment seemed not serious but brought great psychological pressure to Caitlyn, and she felt extremely ashamed and embarrassed.
Hours before the punishment came, she took her own life.
After the tragedy, Caitlyn’s father came out to appeal, and the tragedy cannot be simply summarized as “too much academic pressure.” For autistic children, the way they see the world is often binary, making it difficult to distinguish between two extremes of things.
He hopes that schools such as Wycombe Abbey School will pay more attention to the physical and mental health of different children.
High enrollment rate, high quality teaching, strong teachers… These adjectives should not be a template for propaganda, because every child is an independent individual with special spiritual needs.
School bullying, peer pressure, adolescent psychological problems, these are prone to secondary school campus problems; For the small overseas students who have traveled far and wide,More homesickness, racial issues, cultural differences… All kinds of problems are more worthy of parents’ in-depth consideration than achievements.
We often see so-called “success” cases in which we graduate from British and American colleges and go to Niujian Fujiao school, because of the deviation of survivors, so that we can benefit all private schools without any harm.
In fact, many families who find it difficult to adapt to private schools do not tell others publicly. We know a child who reads the top beautiful high school. After a year of reading in the United States, we can not adapt to it, and finally choose to return home.
This does not mean that children are not excellent, just that different characteristics of children suitable for different environments and educational styles. Quality secondary education in the UK, the US or elsewhere is not for everyone.
03Celebrities Also Struggle with Elite Private Schools?
One of the propaganda strategies of private schools is that they have a huge number of alumni resources, from princes and nobles to authorities in various fields.
But from the perspective of these “celebrities,” looking back at private school education, what is the scene?
Japanese-born Nobel Prize winner Kazuo Ishiguro has accurately pointed out the nature of British private schools, and even elite private schools around the world:
For the elite class, such places as private schools, in addition to being “schools,” are also “privileged social tickets,” which are an important part of keeping the social class from slipping.
With such a purpose, elite private schools were given the attributes of adult society in advance. Families that can afford to spend millions on private schooling are inevitably rich and expensive.
At the moment of entering the school, students will inevitably face the reality of money and class. Celebrities, dignitaries and alumni are a double-edged sword – every child “brings their own label” admission, and hundreds of small campuses have become closed and isolated small societies.
And the children’s behavior is not mature enough, everyone’s behavior will be amplified, or in the boring and difficult schoolwork to seek “evil” interest, or the small disciplinary behavior as a great shame, bring psychological burden.
Class, money, mental immaturity, closed environment… Several factors are often easy to collide in the closed small society of campus, which is not friendly or even malignant.
Private schools in the publicity of the aristocrats, royal families, social circles and other bright signs, in fact, are for parents to see, but will devour the children in which the real study experience.
In our previous article, we have mentioned that elite schools are like “Hermes,” “For these parents, elite schools are an important element. Imagine going to a fancy cocktail party, and what they might want to talk about is, ‘I drive a Maserati, and my daughter is at the University of Pennsylvania.’’”
To some extent, private schools have the same “function.”
The famous writer George Orwell, who also graduated from Eton, once wrote in his biography “Cold Heart,” that the uppermost students were the supreme rulers of the Eton student group, and that he himself suffered from the beating of the underclassmen, which was routine.
Private schools that emphasize “leadership” and elite attributes have taken on the shadow of hegemonism in their ideas, and it is no wonder that bullying and high pressure have become negative keywords in private schools.
Is enrollment rate the only thing Chinese parents need to consider when choosing a school?
The answer must be no.However, in the media and intermediary publicity, parents do consider, but it is easy to intentionally or unintentionally put the enrollment rate to the highest position.
On the one hand, the glamour of private schools in the US and UK is fading. Universities are increasingly taking equity and diversity principles into account, and the right school is more important than the “best” school. In the past, the rate of oxen and sword in private schools in the UK was as high as 60%, and it has gradually declined in recent years.
On the other hand, this generation of children growing up in highly refined education, to face mental pressure and culture shock may be unimaginable to the elders.
This is an extremely sensitive and vulnerable generation. They are materially wealthier than their predecessors at any time, but their mental pressure is also unprecedented.
When choosing a school, we should ask more, “What do children want?”
High enrollment rate, celebrity alumni circle, high ranking… Is this what parents want or what children want?
Perhaps more from the needs of children, more attention to the child’s spiritual world, many tragedies can be avoided.