Ex-staff speak out about bullying claims

A tasteless stage play in which a terrified boy had his face smeared with avacado and was forced to drink a “disgusting concoction” was what finally convinced the two former staff members at boarding school Lundsberg to report the school to the Schools Inspectorate.

“I noticed quite quickly that there was a strange power structure and lots of informal rules, unwritten rules which I understood were designed to intimidate and frighten younger children into obedience”, Jan Forsman told daily Svenska Dagbladet (SvD).

Forsman, himself a former boarding school student who worked for 22 years as a police officer in Stockholm went on to explain that the “play” in front of several staff members was the last straw for himself and colleague Daniela Fielding, who worked as a ”house mother” looking after the younger girls living in the school.

After witnessing the incident, the pair decided to report the school.

Fielding spoke of another incident where one of the girls had confided in her that the girl’s brother, also at the school, had been assaulted by an older boy during the night. When Fielding took it up with the school staff, she was simply told it was being dealt with already.

“There are structures that you might not expect in a modern society”, she said to TV4.

Fielding also claimed that parents as well as students are complicit in many of the events surrounding the scandal and that they are keen to not disturb the status quo, worrying, allegedly, that standards of discipline may drop, according to SvD.

Following the barrage of bullying claims following the initial one made by the two ex-members of staff, the police have launched an investigation into alleged assault, unlawful threats and coercing a minor at the prestigious school in county Värmland.

Meanwhile, the agency also announced last week that the other two boarding schools in Sweden – Grennaskolan and Sigtuna humanistiska läroverk – will be also investigated, following reports of systematic bullying and violence between students at Lundsberg and Grenna.

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Villages across Swiss Alps set to fight proposed base jumping ban

A proposal to ban base jumping in the Bernese Highlands has drawn criticism, with locals countering claims that the extreme sport is dangerous.

Villages across Swiss Alps set to fight proposed base jumping ban
Photo: Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

Kiener Nellen, a National Councillor in Bern, has instructed the Federal Council to consider a nationwide ban on the practice. 

Nellen said that the dangerous sport was harmful to Switzerland’s reputation, while also putting local rescue staff at risk. 

Nellen told the Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen broadcasting company that base jumping ”endangers the reputation of Switzerland’s tourism industry and the Bernese Highlands”. 

An average of 4.5 deaths per year

More and more base jumps take place in Switzerland every year, with more than 30,000 completed in 2018.

While base jumping is becoming a more established practice, it remains unsafe. 

READ: British base jumper dies in Lauterbrunnen

Four people died base jumping in 2017 in Switzerland, down from nine in 2016 and ten in 2015. A total of 81 people have died in Switzerland since 2002, an average of 4.5 per year. 

'Not thoughtless weirdos'

Several have spoken out against the ban, arguing that the practice is becoming safer – and that it is crucial to the local economy. 

Aside from the money spent by the base jumpers when they stay in Switzerland, they are also required to buy a ‘Landing Card’. 

The money from these cards is paid back to local farmers who offer their properties as landing pads and began as an initiative of the base jumpers themselves. 

Base jumping. Michael Mathes / AFP

Annette Weber, who works at a cafe in the Bernese Highlands, told Swiss online newspaper Watson that the stereotype of irresponsible, risk-taking base jumpers was not accurate. 

“They’re not half-wild weirdos who throw themselves thoughtlessly off the cliffs,” she said. 

“It would be totally ridiculous to criminalize base jumping.” 

Lauterbrunnen Mayor Martin Stäger (SVP) agreed, saying that a ban would be not be effective. 

“The base jumpers mostly stick to the rules in our valley,” he said. 

“A ban would be completely counterproductive. How can such a ban be controlled?

“Then people would just jump at the unofficial, more dangerous places.”

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