More than 300 former students of Pennsylvania’s Glen Mills Schools are taking legal action alleging a wide variety of physical, mental, and sexual abuses at the hands of staff members and administrators. And while the Delaware County schools for court-ordered boys is no longer in operation thanks to a 2019 investigation published by The Philadelphia Inquirer, the wounds for the survivors of the abuse are still as fresh as the day they were inflicted.
According to The Inquirer’s most recent reporting, the acts inflicted on the boys by those charged with their rehabilitation and care are as reprehensible as they are unthinkable. The abuse, which took place between 1976 and 2018, includes rape and other forms of sexual assault, physical assault, ongoing mental abuse, and a concerted effort to cover the whole thing up and keep the students quiet.
Attempts to bring attention to the violence happening behind Glen Mills Schools’ walls were met with vengeance. One student who tried to report the goings on and get some help was beaten and had his very life threatened. This student’s abuser would call him a racial epithet after sexually abusing him. Counselors would repeatedly rape their students, in some cases while another staff member watched the door. A practice known as an “All Call” resulted in counselors spitting the face of a student, using racial epithets to insult him, and – as if he hadn’t been dehumanized and abused enough – would end by taking turns beating him.
The abuses by the staff members, in some cases taking place more than 30 years ago, inflicted permanent and lasting damage on the lives they destroyed. “In my head, I’m living a nightmare,” says one of the plaintiffs. “It’s hard for me to trust, to be around people, to socialize. Even though when this happened I was in my teens and now I’m in my late 40s, it’s like I lived it yesterday. It hurts like it just happened.”