There was (surprisingly?) little bullying when I was there. I wasn't in the "cool" group, but still had friends and felt broadly accepted; more so than in my prior boarding school.
Any remaining hierarchy between the older and younger boys was in its final days. One anecdote I remember: where I arrived, younger boys would fill up the older boys' water jugs at lunch on request, but when I left that would have seemed very out-of-place.
Re the murders: the murder surge was happening as the British class system became less relevant, offered fewer privileges for those without competency, and its status outside the UK was disintegrating. I'd be interested to see whether going to Eton increases your chance of being a murderer relative to just being at that place in the British class system. Do Harrow & Radley have a similarly high rate of murders?
I’ve worked and am continuing to work on healing or soothing some of the wounds inflicted in my time at elite boarding schools - but I can’t say the same for the rest of my cohort, who are now generally busy running the U.K. or burning down rainforest for profit or whatever it is this week.
If i were running such an institution everyone would learn meditation, mindfullness, and would encourage every student and teacher to attend psychological counseling paid by the school with a therapist of their choice.
Maybe real world schools should think along similar lines.
One wonders if the Etonians of earlier decades were hit as hard by lead poisoning as by a misplaced sense of impunity.
Not all of them no, but a small group is. We are not born tabula rasa. If there's any truth to the idea that leader types have more psycho/sociopathic features, then their children will have them more frequently too.
They grow up in a society where they are taught that they are entitled to anything and everything they want and when that doesn’t work out for them on the first pass they resort to crime.
> "Since these schools taught gentlemen not meant to sully their hands with work (perish the thought!), they never learned more practical subjects such as bookkeeping or land management. Those subjects consigned to schools that educated sons of men in trade."
> "Disciplinary measures were expected to be harsh, not only as a way to maintain order but to toughen up the boys so they could perfect that famous English stiff upper lip. Punishments were brutal, often resulting in blood being drawn during caning, belting, birching, and whipping."
> "Evenings and nights, the boys were left to fend for themselves often under the rule of an older boy put in charge. The boys formed a hierarchy that made the reign of terror look tame, as older boys preyed upon younger boys."
Apparently these public schools (Eton, Harrow, Winchester, Westminster, Rugby, Charterhouse and Shrewsbury) were intentionally designed to turn out sociopathic narcissists with a penchant for violence and cruelty - who were the kind of people that the system's architects thought were needed to run the British Empire.
This could be a confusion of correlation and causality.
Basically, they put you through hell, both institutionally and Lord Of The Flies. Bullying was normal, and vicious, and inescapable (no going home to get away from them). You dealt with it or you persuades your parents to let you leave, or you suicided. In my school of ~400 pupils we had at least one suicide a year, often more.
The thinking was that if you survived all this then you would be sufficiently tough (mentally and physically) to be sent to some colonial outpost far away from everyone and everything that you knew, with no help nearby, and not lose your shit.
It kinda worked as intended for most people - ex-classmates I've met since are confident and charming. But for those like me, who didn't get on with the system so well, it was years of clinical depression and therapy to heal from it.
There's a name for it now: Boarding School Syndrome . It manifests in adulthood as a range of symptoms, but emotional detachment is probably the most prominent. It's not healthy, and realising that almost all of Britain's most prominent politicians suffer from it (and every single British prime minister since Thatcher went to boarding school), it becomes obvious why Britain is such a mess now.