10.3 RICK DOBLE'S STORY OF AN ABUSIVE SCHOOL AND INSTITUTION, PHILLIPS EXETER ACADEMY, EXETER, NEW HAMPSHIRE
Phillips Exeter Academy is a four year boarding school considered to be one of the finest, if not the finest in the country. While it might score well when it comes to academics, it failed when it came to human qualities, especially to young growing boys. No teacher at Exeter was particularly abusive to me, and I did manage to go through four years and graduate. However in child abuse neglect is a major component. And in this regard Exeter, known as PEA certainly qualified as an abusive institution.
I was there from the age fourteen to seventeen, from 1958-1962, and it was the coldest and loneliest environment I have experienced in my lifetime. We were given 60 hours a week of school work plus sports and other obligations, I guess to keep us busy. Yet young boys who needed love and attention were simply allowed to fend for themselves in a somewhat civilized "Lord of the Flies" environment. The normal support of family was, of course, not there. Many of the teachers were sympathetic, but were overworked and did not have time to spend with their students outside of class. At the time there were no counselors, no advisors, no big brothers, in short no one to turn to. Any shows of emotion by students were seen as less than manly. We learned to shut ourselves off emotionally and deny our feelings. I believe that a set up such as this is abusive by its nature. It certainly was neglectful and not natural or nurturing.
In any case a close friend of mine cracked under the pressure during our second year. He 'flipped out' and was quickly carted off. Suddenly he became a 'non-person' as in Stalinist Russia; he vanished. No teacher or administrator would talk about where he had gone or what had happened. No one would deal with our feelings about one of our classmates breaking under the pressure of the school. I had felt isolated before this happened but afterwards it was as though anyone of us could be quickly liquidated and forgotten.
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