Saturday, August 21, 2010

Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School: Physical Abuse in the Fifties

Bishop Loughlin offered an excellent academic education during the fifties. However, the price in my case was too high due to the exposure to an atmosphere of occasional violence that I have never witnessed before or after in life. At the age of 14, I recall a fellow student savagely assaulted by a Christian brother whose name I do not recall. This is not to suggest that this was a daily occurrence, but I personally witnessed another violent attack by another Christian Brother during my junior year.

The student appeared to be Hispanic; he either left voluntarily or was expelled after his freshman year. I never saw him again. The incident had a sufficient impact upon me that, after 50 years, I can still recall his name. The Christian Brother was a man, but at that moment he behaved more like an animal as he savagely hit him in the head several times with tremendous force. If there were any justice during that era, he would have been arrested and charged with assault.

My sister and I had no problems at St. Matthias grammar school. I do recall that when my sister came home crying from her second-grade class, my father sweetly said that we had to return to school. He was a large and imposing man. I remember he suggested to her he might be inclined to wrap her around the flagpole in the schoolyard if my sister returned home in tears in the future. That little visit ended problems at the grammar school. My sister once observed that our father had “intimidated the intimidators.” Had I been the victim of the brutal attacks that I occasionally witnessed at Bishop Loughlin, I fear the Christian Brother involved would likely have required hospitalization after my father had finished with him. These were infrequent occurrences, but they happened.

I followed my father’s path of concern for the vulnerable, having founded the Coalition for Equity for Minorities in California, a social justice group that called for Grand Jury Investigations of the police on the use of excessive force
And the shooting of unarmed suspects. The events at Loughlin in the fifties, with Christian Brothers wielding physical coercion over vulnerable students, will never be forgotten. Bill Honer Class of ‘59

Bill Honer, Class of 1959

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