In recent years, boarding school abuse cases have made headlines across Missouri and the U.S., shedding light on how an improperly ran boarding school can create an environment where abuse occurs. The children and young adults sent to these schools often struggle with behavioral and other challenges that should be properly addressed, not dealt with in an abusive manner. The students who experience abuse in these facilities often battle lifelong struggles with PTSD, trauma, depression, anxiety, night terrors, drug addiction and more.

What does abuse look like at a boarding school?

Abuse within a boarding school can be committed by a staff member or another student when improperly supervised. Types of abuse can include both physical and sexual:


Physical abuse can include:

  • Harmful physical contact
  • Lack of nutrition and water
  • Forced labor
  • Unreasonable workouts
  • Verbal abuse
  • Harassing or hazing behavior
  • Unreasonable and harmful physical restraints


In a very general sense, sexual abuse is sexual contact that is unwanted and is non-consensual. To prevent sexual abuse from occurring, procedures and policies should be in place, as well as proper staff-to-student ratios, to ensure staff and students are properly supervised.

When is a boarding school held liable?

A boarding school can be held liable for abuse when the organization inadequately supervises their staff and students leading to situations of harassment, physical assault, sexual assault or inappropriate contact. This can mean the negligent supervision of children and negligent hiring and retention of employees. Many of the students sent to boarding schools struggle with mental and/or behavioral issues. Boarding schools and residential facilities have an added layer of responsibility to implement proper procedures, policies and in-depth training to properly care for their students, as well as careful monitoring of their staff and students.

Failure to adequately vet and train staff can lead to the harming of children amounting to child abuse. Like other industries where adults that are trusted with a position of power over children, perpetrators can obtain jobs that put them in direct supervision of children. In-depth background checks prior to hiring staff members should be required.

Most boarding schools are “no touch” schools, meaning staff is not allowed to physically touch a student unless that student is in danger of harming him or herself or others. When a staff member does need to intervene physically, proper procedures and protocol must be followed to keep the student and staff members safe.

What to do if you or a loved one has experienced abuse at a boarding school.

If you or a loved one has experienced abuse while attending a boarding or residential school, it’s important to report that abuse to authorities and seek medical help as soon as possible. Local law enforcement and prosecutors can investigate to see whether any behavior rose to the level of violating state or federal statutes. If so, the perpetrators could be charged with crimes prosecuted. Additionally, victims and survivors have the opportunity to seek justice for the pain and suffering they endured.

Through a civil claim and by hiring a personal injury attorney, victims and survivors can seek monetary justice to help them with their journey to healing. Our team of compassionate, experienced attorneys are committed to holding perpetrators accountable and helping those who have been abused have their voices heard. We’re here to help and navigate the legal process alongside you.