Dear Christian Brothers and teachers,
IWALKED into your school in 1977 fresh from Holy Communion from a school which was served by kindly teachers and Sisters of Mercy. I entered your school and looking back, I and many others were set upon daily, either physically or mentally, for 10 years until Leaving Cert.
In second class, we saw boys, including me, regularly caned for getting basic sums wrong and went home with marks on our hands. Third class saw the daily event of two boys (with obvious learning difficulties) smashed up against a wall and slapped across the face repeatedly. Slaps across the head during the day could be meted out to anyone.
Fifth class was when we had the Head Brother until we left for first year. While they brought us on trips it didn’t account for the violence meted out — boys running in the yard were picked up and literally thrown to the ground; boys in the class were punched and slapped around the head in violent temper. My head and ears still ring when I think of the punch to the back of the head I received for not answering a question about my family. I mean a punch to an 11-year-old like it was normal thing to do?
On into first year the beatings disappeared as corporal punishment was redacted, so the new Head Brother of the secondary school and some of his lay teachers resorted to daily mental abuse. “You will only ever sweep the roads” was the regular insult to many of us, (a fine job by the way) or the comment that we were all only “wasters”. The class divide of a family like mine which availed of free books where we were ridiculed for looking for the rebate cheque from the school. “You are a family of spongers” was the insult in front of the class as the cheque was handed out to some of us. “These families need to sponge off the State.”
To the teachers who were kind and conscientious, why didn’t you speak up? To the Brothers and teachers mentioned, shame on you. You left nothing but a trail of destruction to so many boys whose formative years consisted of a daily threat of physical or mental abuse and worse still for some it actually happened. We were only boys, children, and in the main good kids who were just keen to play football or some other sport and learn as much as possible. Boys who many were growing up with difficult family lives also.
Shame on you. You have nothing to be proud of in this life or the next if that’s where you already are.
BC Name and address with Editor