The upper classes and their insistence on having it all

By Nina Steele 

I am often puzzled as to why some upper class people bother to have children at all. Not only are the children often raised exclusively by nannies, but in many cases, children as young as 7 are sent off to boarding school and only see their parents during school holidays.

This love of boarding schools is one that I find quite difficult to understand. Why will anyone go to all the bother of having a child, then send them off to be looked after by an institution? If having a social life matters more than raising a child, then why not have the courage to forgo having children altogether?

Research shows that sending a child to boarding school can cause long lasting damage. Even without those findings, I think we can all pretty much guess that happy children are often those who form a healthy and loving bond with their parents and others close to them at an early age. To send them off at an early age to be raised by total strangers, can only be detrimental in the long run.

There is often a common thread that binds people who have been to boarding school at an early age, and that is the ability to suppress their feelings. The archaic rules that these schools operate under means that children are discouraged from showing any emotions. The concept of stiff upper lip still reigns supreme.

The extent of the damage these schools can have on children is such that there is now reference to a condition known as “boarding school syndrome”. According to Professor Joy Schaverien, children who are sent to boarding school can be as much psychologically damaged as children who grow up in care.

That is a rather damning assessment of the whole boarding school system. Being born into a wealthy family should by definition give someone an advantage in life, not the opposite. The reason why there is scant public outrage about this, is precisely because the people at the centre are privileged and therefore deemed not worthy of public sympathy.

I am against any abuse of children, regardless of their background and I am sure that many people feel the same. Yes I do understand that the class system can be quite divisive, however, the welfare of children everywhere should take precedent over any issues any of us may have with some sections of society.

I for one would like to see changes brought in that will increase the age at which children can go to boarding school from the current 7 to 13. If as studies show, sending children to boarding school at a younger age is more likely to damage them, as opposed to when they are sent as teenagers, then why are we allowing this practice to continue?

Have you been to boarding school? If so, how was the whole experience for you?

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