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"I never went to boarding school, because my parents quite liked me."

Jeremy Hardy, The News Quiz

Not to be confused with your usual Boarding School trope, the Boarding School of Horrors is a place where your nightmares come true. There are no midnight feasts or jolly hockey sticks here. Presided over by cane-wielding Sadist Teachers, you will be beaten or locked up for the slightest misdemeanor—and that's if you're lucky. If summoned to the headmaster's office, don't expect to come out alive. Then there is the matter of your fellow students. At best, you'll have your head flushed down the toilet; at worst, you face years of unspeakable bullying. In a British school, you may be enslaved to the prefects thanks to the "fagging" system. And the Absurdly Powerful Student Council will only add to complications as they promote this form of cruelty as presumably girls or guys they like are sent to be lowly concubines within their ranks and is above the law with the Prefect acting as their muscle as they choose whom to beat up or torture.

The food is inedible slop, there is no central heating, and creepy crawlies are everywhere. If you complain or write home to your parents, they won't believe you (assuming your mail even makes it out of the school, that is). The school might be a Military School, where you'll face the wrath of Drill Sergeant Nasty every day, and be subjected to horrific hazing rituals. In the worst cases you could be sexually abused or even murdered while staying there.

Had (has?) some elements of truth in television. Boarding schools were not a Victorian innovation, but the institution was embraced as a means of counteracting the softening, emasculating influence of mothers and preparing young men for the harsh rigours of the world of business and Empire. The move to purposefully harsh institutions as a solution to parental mollycoddling took place in the context of the early-mid Victorian love of childhood and doting parenthood, which it was later feared would render the new generation of the better sort of people - i.e. the middle and upper classes - too soft to maintain Anglo supremacy. Thus, boarding schools were intended to instil discipline and self-discipline, deference to authority, strict morals, a vague sense of the Christian religion, and teamwork. This was of course in addition to all the usual things one expects a public school (a school open to the paying public as opposed to a private school, which was more exclusive) to do. In other words, it was somewhat better than an Orphanage of Fear.

You are likely to find yourself in one of these places if sent Off to Boarding School by the Card-Carrying Villain, often doubling as a School for Scheming or Academy of Evil. Still, count yourself lucky. At least you're not in an Orphanage of Fear. If you're unlucky, your summer is only apt to be marginally better - but see Summer Campy for that.

A sub-trope of this is the Day School of Horrors, of which the most notable exponent was probably the Overly Strict Catholic School (circa 1930-1960). It was bad enough when the nuns could make you stand in a trash can or beat you with a yardstick in front of the class for such minor infractions as improperly polished shoes or sneezing in church, all the while telling you that beating the tar out of your living body was good for your immortal soul. Got turned Up to Eleven when we all found out what the priests were up to behind closed doors...

Examples of Boarding School of Horrors include:

Anime and Manga

  • The hentai Shusaku is about a janitor who blackmails and fornicates with the students of an all-girl boarding school for gifted musicians.
  • While most of the students and teachers of the Youkai Academy in Rosario + Vampire are not terribly evil, there is an Absurdly Powerful Student Council who devolved into Knight Templar Yakuza over the years, a few SadistTeachers (including Medusa), and of course all the students (save one) are shape-shifting demons and if any of them reveal their true forms they're threatened with "permanent expulsion", although this is not followed through on.
  • Shitsurakuen's Utopia Academy. Mostly for the girls, the guys have it easier as they can treat the girls anyway they want.
  • Umineko no Naku Koro ni: Ange's time at St. Lucia Academy was made pretty miserable because she had no friends and she was often bullied mercilessly by her classmates. The teachers never were around to put a stop to it either. It got so bad that she ordered the Seven Sisters of Purgatory to kill her classmates. And when they couldn't (because they could only do it when Ange herself was willing to do it with her own hands), she denied their existence, which in practice killed them.
  • Gakuen Alice has the titular school, which seems to involve children being abused horribly, sent on dangerous missions and forbidden to contact their families.

Comic Books

  • In the adult comic Viz, the character "Spoilt Bastard" briefly attended one.
  • The Sandman featured a school like this in a side story in Season of Mists. It was quite a normal Boarding School in modern days, but since Hell had just been emptied and the dead came back to Earth during holidays when there was just one living boy present with a skeleton staff because he couldn't go to his absent father, all the people who died in relation to the place somehow returned there and made it into a Boarding School of Horrors. The devil-worshiping bullies had attended the place just before World War I, at the time when the place had apparently fit the trope.
  • Greytowers School in the British comic The Dandy, attended by popular character Winker Watson.
  • In Hollow Fields, the titular school features steam-powered Sadist Teachers, a patchwork security guard, a variety of alarming classes, and once a week the student with the lowest grades is sent to detention... permanently.
  • The Dreaming's Greenwich Private College barely makes it into this trope. While the teachers, though strict, are not sadistic, and the students are friendly, you run the risk of being snatched by a Quinkan whenever you go to sleep.
  • Was a staple of the comic strips in old-style British magazines for young teenage girls, like Bunty, Jackie and Pony School.
  • The St. Trinian's public school for girls, as illustrated by Ronald Searle's wonderful comics.
  • A three-issue story arc in Excalibur had Kitty Pryde attend one of these, complete with being specifically targeted by the popular girls, when the rest of her team had gone missing.

Fan Works

  • Played for laughs in the Fanfic Official Fanfiction University metaseries. Being taken to a school where the teachers are all your favourite book or movie characters sounds like fun until you realise that they have seen the fanfic you write about them. And they are not flattered.
  • Lily Potter attends one in the Harry Potter fanfic Petal in the Rain by pratty-prongs-princesse.


  • Lindsay Anderson's 1968 If.... was Malcolm McDowell's breakthrough role and embodies this trope.
  • Dead Poets Society: OK, no Wackford Squeers, but we do have an authoritarian headmaster who beats free-thinking students and a school board who squashes creative kids and teachers beneath "the way things are done here." The fact that most, if not all, of the parents are wealthy in some way and support the school's view doesn't help much, either.
  • Child's Play 3 has the boy from the first two movies in a military school, showcasing how brutal such schools can be in real life. Several Drill Sergeant Nasty types come to a sticky end at the hands of Chucky: "Don't fuck with the Chuck!"
  • The first parts of Pink Floyd's The Wall featured the main character Pink as a child at a non-boarding School of Horrors, complete with Sadist Teacher, uniforms, single file marching... and children being turned into obedient putty-faced zombies and then mindlessly walking over a platform and toppling into a giant meat grinder.
  • Scum offers an example of this trope, though in fact it is set in a borstal (what we would now call a young offenders' institute), so the less-than-pleasant nature of it is understandable...if not in any way justified, since some pretty horrific stuff happens. The film (and the play it was based on) were an Author Tract against the institution of borstal, and the details are not entirely inaccurate.
  • St Trinian's is an all-girl boarding school where the only rule is anarchy. Although it is presented in a pleasant way past the first 10 minutes, it is no wonder the Minister for Education wants it closed. Among the mischief shown on screen: a girl is dragged after a tractor by a fellow student, another is dropped in a staircase head first, a third one is broadcast live on YouTube while running naked in the corridors, the teachers are drunk, the first years play with dynamite and the students make and sell vodka in their science lab.
  • The small all-girls school in The Woods doesn't seem very horrifying at first (just rather isolated) save for one bully, but soon you notice how unnaturally pleasant the teachers are, then your friends start to disappear, and then you start coughing up leaves and twigs...
  • Satan's School for Girls. Just look at the title!
  • The Italian horror film Suspiria, which has a dance academy run by a coven of witches.
  • Combined with Orphanage of Fear in The Devils Backbone.
  • Werewolf in a Girl's Dormitory. Although he never gets into the dorm itself.
  • The School in Unman, Wittering and Zigo
  • A variation of this appears in Disturbing Behavior, where it's done with an entire town. Parents move to Cradle Bay with their troubled teens so that they will be "made" into model students and citizens.
  • The Korean Horror Movie Destination Hell takes place in one of these.
  • And the Korean drama The Crucible / Silenced, based on the true story of a sex abuse scandal at a school for the hearing-impaired, which was suffered by both resident and non-resident students.


  • Lowood School in Bronte's Jane Eyre, though the conditions improve after the big typhoid outbreak, with Brocklehurst being edged out of his post and donors putting up a new building. It overlaps a little with the Orphanage of Fear, since the pupils have all lost at least one parent.
    • A school drawn from life: the model for Lowood was Cowan Bridge, where two of Bronte's sisters contracted fatal illnesses. Lowood's proprietor Mr. Brocklehurst is similarly based on Cowan Bridge's William Carus Wilson. Several of Bronte's contemporaries noticed the resemblance and complained loudly (Carus Wilson among them), while some survivors complained that she'd left too much out.
  • While, at the outset, Hailsham from the novel Never Let Me Go seems to be a great, loving place to grow up. That is, until you find out that the place is really a maturing ground for cloned children, who will eventually have all their organs harvested and die very young.
    • You also find out that Hailsham is actually quite nice compared to the schools run by people who approve of the whole scheme instead of reformers who settled for giving the clones normal(ish) childhoods when they realized that they couldn't convince the public to scrap the project entirely.
  • Robert Cormier's The Chocolate War is set in a Catholic one.
  • Dotheboys Hall in Charles Dickens' Nicholas Nickleby makes this Older Than Radio. The villainous Wackford Squeers is said to be based on a real headmaster, who was so cruel that he blinded some of his pupils.
    • It was reported that Dickens had created a minor backlash against Boarding Schools and a demand for quality assurance from his readers because of that gruesome description.
    • Squeers was based on a man named William Shaw, headmaster of the Bowes Academy in northern England. Dickens made no effort to disguise this; the novel ruined Shaw and led to the closure of Bowes. However, there is quite a bit of evidence to suggest that Dickens unfairly maligned Shaw—the incident with the blinded boys, for example, has been attributed by some historians to an illness which arrived in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars, and Shaw is recorded as having employed an eye specialist (at great expense) to try and cure them. Whatever the truth about him, quite a few people weren't happy with Dickens' treatment of him and apparently installed a window to him in the local church after his death.
  • Let's not forget David's boarding school in David Copperfield. Had it not been for people like Steerforth, Mr. Bell or Tommy Traddles, it would've been even worse. And it was pretty bad, thanks to Mr. Creakle.
  • The Stjärnberg boarding school in the Swedish novel Ondskan by journalist and action-novel author Jan Guillou, recently turned into a film. It was based on Mr Guillou's own boarding school experience in the 1950s. When he became a journalist in the 1960's, he managed to shut down that school by exposing its horrors to the general public.
    • Funny story, he actually decided to become a journalist because it turned out to be the most effective way to shut down the school. Then he spent twenty years practicing his writing in journalism and in lesser novels like the Carl Hamilton series before he felt confident enough to write the book. We might call that dedication.
  • The school in Mercedes Lackey's Brightly Burning isn't a boarding school, but otherwise matches this trope. An elite group of "sixth form" students can get away with just about anything, including severely beating a younger boy for not stealing on their behalf.
  • Jill's and Eustace's school, Experiment House, in CS Lewis' The Silver Chair. Rather than the "abusively strict and draconian" type, however, Experiment House is the less-common variant of the trope in which the trouble is the complete lack of discipline; its faculty, fancying themselves modern and progressive, allow bullies to run wild, creating a hellish environment for the rest of the students like Jill and Eustace. Either Experiment House or another Boarding School of Horrors is also implied to have contributed to Edmund's mean and resentful behavior in the first book; upon his recovery, Lucy observes that he looks better than he has "since his first term at that horrid school which was where he had begun to go wrong."
  • George Orwell's essay "Such, Such Were the Joys" is about his experiences in such a school.
    • In the Real Life, the teachers of the school considered young Eric Blair as one of the truly rising stars in achievement and predicted him a bright future in the literature.
  • The Fools' Guild School in Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels. A thoroughly miserable place where students sleep on hard pallets, are woken at the crack of dawn, and spend hours memorizing ancient jokes that simply aren't funny and bring drilled in slapstick routines that are even less so. The irony is amped up by it being next door to the Assassins' Guild, which is a much more cheerful place and even lets the students go outside.
    • The downside of the Assassins' Guild is that the number of students tends to be considerably smaller at the end of the year than it was at the beginning due to the student rivalries.
    • Discworld also has Hugglestones, a boarding school for the sons of the very rich designed to turn boys into men... apparently by making them play a lot of violent full-contact sports and only allowing those who survive (either by brute force or just being smart enough to avoid the scrum while still acting like they're involved in the action) to graduate. It's also described as physically resembling a maximum-security prison, with the difference that prison inmates get better treatment.
    • Monstrous Regiment has the Girl's Working School, which cranks this up to Room101 levels. Three of the main characters were in it at some point, and it shows in different ways. Lt Blouse went to a less extreme version - he's perfectly happy to eat scubbo (soup made of boiled water and anything remotely edible) with the men, as it's what he got at school. Jackrum later quips that "He went to a school for young gentlemen, so prison will be just like old times."
  • Hogwarts turns into this in J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter, thanks to Umbridge (former trope namer for Tyrant Takes the Helm).
    • It gets mostly better in Half-Blood Prince, then rather a lot worse under the Carrow siblings in Deathly Hallows. As the Power Trio have dropped out to pursue Horcruxes, we mostly only hear about the horrors secondhand.
      • Arguably it was this before Dumbledore got in charge; apparently it was a common punishment to hang gradeschoolers from their wrists to the ceiling for several days.
    • Hogwarts is also noteworthy because, being a positive example of a boarding school in a very popular series, it has single-handedly caused the modern decline of this trope (especially in British literature).
  • The Prufrock Preparatory school in The Austere Academy, Book The Fifth of A Series of Unfortunate Events. The buildings are even shaped like gravestones. The school is run by Vice Principal Nero. When the Baudelaire siblings first arrive he informs them about the fine dormitories they have, but that unless students have parental permission, they must sleep on hay in a tin shack (known as the Orphan's Shack). He considers himself to be a genius and thinks that he plays the violin well, but in fact he is unworthy, stupid, mean, arrogant, obnoxious, annoying and cannot play the violin well at all. Nonetheless, students must attend his lengthy violin recitals every day, or else they must buy him a large bag of candy and watch him eat it. The Baudelaires are forced to live in the Orphan's Shack which is infested with crabs, fungus drips from the ceiling, the tin walls are covered in horrible wallpaper (green with pink hearts). They are also regularly bullied by a rude, violent girl named Carmelita Spats and Sunny (a baby) is made to be a secretary for Nero. There's also a rule that if students are late to class (or Sunny is late to work) their hands will be tied behind their backs during meals and they'll have to "lean down at eat their food like a dog". Sunny has her silverware taken away because she's gonna work in the administrative building where students are not allowed. Also if students are late to mealtime their glasses are taken away and beverages will be served in large puddles on the trays.
    • The school motto: MEMENTO MORI (Remember You Will Die). It can also be translated as "Remember Your Mortality" which also indicates, that you aren't anything more than a human. Which means, that if you are a troublemaker (or if the teachers see you as one) you can—and will—be broken down, by any gruesome means possible.
  • St Custards in the Molesworth books, and St. Trinian's, both drawn by cartoonist Ronald Searle.
  • In the Inspector Linley detective novel Well Schooled In Murder, a murder is covered up by the staff and all 600 pupils of a Boarding School of Horrors.
  • Happens in a Goosebumps short story, "The Perfect School"
  • The school that Alex Rider attends in Point Blanc. The school appears awesome, it's just that the other students are all Stepford Smilers. The real students are held underground while the clones of the Big Bad study them in order to imitate them properly
  • The Afrikaaner boarding school in The Power of One fits this trope, though Peekay's experience is worse than most because he's English.
  • The horribly built school in The War Between The Pitiful Teachers and the Splendid Kids is not only a dumping ground for "bad" students (the main POV character is actually very intelligent but infuriated his teacher by making up words ("inkwart- that blister that develops when you write too many stupid English assignments") and sticking to them; another is a very smart Cloudcuckoolander; another was raised by hyenas) but also for bad teachers like the self-absorbed art teacher who jousted as The Rococo Knight.
  • Crunchem Hall in Roald Dahl's Matilda fits the trope to a T, despite being a day school. The headmistress delights in, among other things, locking students in an iron maiden-style closet full of broken glass and nails, forcing students to eat chocolate cake until they either vomit or explode, and picking students up by their hair and hammer-throwing them across the school grounds.
  • In Lois Duncan's Down a Dark Hall, the headmistress is forcing her trapped students to channel the ghosts of dead geniuses...which causes enough mental damage to drive them to insanity or suicide.
  • The school in Cinda Williams Chima's The Wizard Heir is mainly a way for its wizard headmaster to locate young wizards to bind to him; the non-magical students are tormented—and sometimes killed—by the others, and when the protagonist refuses to go along, he's subjected to months of constant mental torture.
  • In Otherland, Felix Jongleur, evil mastermind of the Grail Brotherhood, grew up in the World War I era and was sent to Cranleigh, a British boarding school that he remembers as a place of abject misery and torture, not the least of which because he is French. Even nearly two hundred years later (yes, he is that old), these memories give him Bad Dreams. Interestingly, they also cause him to pick Paul Jonas as his Opposite Gender Clone "daughter's" tutor, because he went to the same school, and this forms a minor plot point late in the story.
  • The 19th century Austro-Hungarian military academy portrayed in The Confusions of Young Törless is one of these. While we never see much of the rest of the student body, the plot centers on the sadistic torment of one of its students, observed dispassionately by the title character.
  • Ella Enchanted: Ella attends one which she eventually escapes. It wouldn't have been so bad if it weren't for Hattie ordering her about and the punishment of meals being taken away if you talked back to a teacher.
  • Coates Academy from Gone (novel) might count. It starts out as a boarding school for "difficult" kids, which basically translates into sadists, sociopaths, juvenile delinquents, bullies, and a few decent kids who talked back too often, or whose parents just wanted to get rid of them. It is described as a cold, foreboding place where the bullies rule. Then, things only get worse (for the few decent kids) after some of the kids develop super powers, the adults all vanish, and the bullies really rule. Eventually, it gets to be unbearable for every character except Drake.
  • Drearcliff Grange in Kim Newman's "Kentish Glory: The Secrets of Drearcliff Grange School" combines this with Super-Hero School for a Deconstruction of Girls' School stories such as The Silent Three. The main character is warned that the prefects can punish her for having a red mark on her face by slapping her (and can continue to do so as long as she continues to have red marks on her face), and will already have ritually burnt the doll in her luggage at the stake (as it turns out they haven't, they're waiting to torture it in front of her). But then that gets deconstructed, when we're told that after three weeks she no longer sees the school as either good or bad; it's simply how things are.
  • In Robert A. Heinlein's young adult novel Red Planet, the main characters are sent to a dispassionately oppressive boarding school where the headmaster attempts to steal the hero's (sentient) pet and the heroes discover a plot against the entire colony.

Live Action TV

  • The Graybridge school in "Tomkinson's Schooldays", the pilot episode of the Narnia parody Ripping Yarns. At Graybridge, School Bully is actually an official position functioning as a one-man Absurdly Powerful Student Council.
    • "I was seventeen miles from Graybridge before I was caught by the school leopard."
  • Francis spends the first few seasons of Malcolm in the Middle in military school.
  • Ned from Pushing Daisies gets sent to a school that is not necessarily a Boarding School of Horrors as it is a Boarding School of Abandonment and Gloom For Unloved Children.
  • Firefly's River Tam went to a School for Scheming version of one of these that was presided over by Mad Scientists. She came out...a bit touched.
  • Poltergeist: The Legacy's tenth episode "The Substitute" was a classic example of this trope.
  • Farringham School For Boys in the Doctor Who adventure "Human Nature", more so in the novel the episodes were based on. And that was before The Doctor turned up, Cosmic Horror-Show in tow.
  • Jennie Garth starred in a Lifetime Movie style Without Consent which is basically about teenage "re-education" facilities (see Real Life below). Along with torturing the students in their control, whether they've actually done anything wrong or not, the program ditches a clearly-troubled young man as soon as his parents' insurance runs out of money, claiming that he is now "cured". He kills himself.
  • Tower Prep, where kids with special gifts are knocked out and wake up at this school with no explanation, have no idea where they are, a giant wall keeps them from leaving, they are not allowed to contact the outside, and they are pretty much forced to act like they are simply normal students.



Video Games

  • Bully takes place in one of these. It starts out miserable and ends up just really sucky. Cliques run the school, classism runs rampant, and physical violence is just about the only way to solve your problems.
  • According to herself, the 'famous actress' Gloria Van Gouten in Psychonauts went to one of these. Then again, considering how we found out, and Gloria's condition, it may not be true.
  • In the localized Fire Emblem Awakening, Henry was sent to a mix of this and Wizarding School after his Traumatic Superpower Awakening. In the original, it's an Orphanage of Fear.

Web Original

  • Grave Academy's students and protagonists, are all monsters, and all are at least Deuteragonists.
  • Dorian Sanders from v3 of Survival of the Fittest apparently went to one of these, though so far the only clue about said school is the description of how he was psychologically changed by his time there in his bio.
  • In the flash series XIN, the story takes place during a fictional time in America where, in an effort to prevent street gangs and violent delinquent crimes, the punishments of suspension and expulsion have been made illegal in all schools (not just boarding ones). Instead, corporal punishment has been reinstated, and as you may have guessed, it doesn't take long for staff to start abusing these powers. However, due to falling academic standards, along with rigorous school evaluations, a new system needed to be created. This lead to the hierarchy system known as the Pillar System, created by the main antagonist. The Pillar System takes advantage of the existing student hierarchy, and gives a select group of students, called monitors, complete power in setting rules and administering punishment to students. This goes about as well as you'd think. It's made worse by the fact that many main characters (including the top monitors) in the series know some insane superhuman fighting techniques (the series is anime-esque). You also know a system is bad when you find yourself cheering for the delinquents who are trying to expose and break it.
  • Addergoole is a boarding school for faeries who've been raised human. There's mind control built into the walls. Slavery and rape are encouraged. The older kids are geased to not tell the new kids anything until it's too late. A lot of them don't want to warn them anyway. The whole school is a training version of their entire society.
  • (The Customer is) Not Always Right presents: Day-Scare Center.

Western Animation

  • The Simpsons: The episode "The Secret War of Lisa Simpson" showcases the military school example.
    • Although that was something of a subversion; the school itself was fairly decent (the principal even seemed a fair and friendly man) and the only abuse we see was focused entirely on Bart and Lisa (later only Lisa), and was based on other students resenting Lisa for being given the good dorm.
  • Daria's dad is traumatized by his father sending him to a military boarding camp with dreaded Corporal Ellenbogen and "boys who can smell fear". In fact, his subplot in Is It College Yet is him trying to convince her not to go to military school (which of course she never wanted to do in the first place).
  • From Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; being sent to military school can be bad enough, but when it happens to the Turtle's friend Zach (after he makes one too many false alarms) he finds out that the place is headed by Wingnut and Screwloose, two aliens who are using brainwashing devices on the students. Given Zach's previous false alarms, this quickly turns into a case of Crying Wolf for him.
  • In the Harley Quinn episode "Riddle U", this is combined with Academy of Evil. The Riddler takes over Gotham University and only "convinces" students to stay because he's able to provide electricity, running water, and other mundane comforts, which the rest of the city doesn't have as a result of the earthquake. Very few of the students know that the he's providing the electricity by forcing students to run on giant hamster wheels that power a generator, and has killed many of them in the process.

Real Life

  • Truth in Television—News reports of child abuse or horrific bullying at boarding schools are not rare. The worst part: for four-fifths of the year the victim is stuck in the same building as their tormentors, longer if they come from overseas. In a lot of boarding houses there is literally no place to hide, often intentionally.
  • After attending a real-life version as a youth, Roald Dahl often used the trope in his fiction, including the Matilda example above.
  • C. S. Lewis didn't exactly have the most comfortable stint in Boarding School. He even said that he preferred serving in World War I because at least in the army nobody was pretending that it was anything besides a living nightmare.
  • Piers Anthony's autobiography Bio of an Ogre relates his Nightmare Fuel experiences in Boarding School.
  • Connor "Khonnor" Kirby-Long implies his high school to have been one in the liner notes to Handwriting:

No portion of this album's profit if any will be given to Saint Johnsbury Academy.

  • Two words; Tranquility Bay. Thankfully it's been closed, but the company that ran it, WWASP a.k.a WWASPS (World Wide Association of Specialty Programs and Schools) runs other schools that have been accused by many of being abusive as well.
    • Speaking of WWASP, here's a story of one of the survivors of the program.
    • This sort of thing was also quite disturbingly glamorised by the British television series Brat Camp
  • Native American boarding schools. Starting in the 1800s, over 100,000 "Indian" children were shipped off to Caucasian-run boarding schools where they were force-fed Western culture—Christianity, the English language, Western styles of dress, short hair on boys, etc. — and forbidden from practicing their own cultural traditions, speaking their native languages, or even keeping their names. This in addition to the Boarding School of Horrors' usual parade of verbal, physical, and sexual abuses. This is why many Native American languages have died out — at these boarding schools, punishments for speaking Native languages ranged from being forced to eat lye soap to having a sewing needle pushed through one's tongue.
    • A portion of Leslie Marmon Silko's Gardens in the Dunes is set in such a school, although the protagonists escape rather quickly.
    • In 2008, Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a formal apology to the Canadian residential schools' former students for the federal government's part in the residential school system. About time, dude... but some of the churches that actually ran the schools still haven't offered their apologies as of 2018.
    • As of 2021, it's been found out that Canadian Indian "residential schools" were even worse than believed.
  • Systematic abuse has also been discovered in the Catholic boarding schools in Ireland, as well. This is pretty bad, but it seems to have caused a lot of people to forget about the older scandals that have dogged government and privately run homes for children for decades.
  • Prince Charles has described Gordonstoun School as "Colditz in kilts".
  • Solbacka, which inspired Stjärnsberg in Jan Guillou's novel Ondskan (literally "The Evil").
  • Hephzibah House, a religious boarding school in Indiana specializing in "behavior modification." Due to a loophole in Indiana law, the Sadist Teachers have been able to physically and sexually abuse teenage girls for over 30 years, according to the horrific accounts of some survivors.