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Bullying shuts top Swedish school

One of Sweden's most renowned boarding schools has been closed after repeated, shocking incidents of bullying.

The Swedish Schools Inspectorate ordered the Lundsbergs school to shut until its management can assure the safety of the boys and girls enrolled there.

Lundsbergs, founded in 1896, is the oldest of Sweden's three national boarding schools. Located in Storfors, a small village outside Karlstad in central Sweden, it teaches about 200 pupils aged 13-18. Its graduates include many famous politicians, business leaders and royals, most recently Sweden's Prince Carl Philip, who graduated in 1999.

The decision to close the school for up to six months followed a weekend incident in which nine older pupils burned two younger ones with a hot iron as part of a new term initiation ritual. They allegedly blindfolded the boys, ordered them to lie face-down on the floor and put a hot iron against their backs until they screamed. One had to be taken to hospital.

Sweden's schools watchdog had previously received numerous reports of bullying at the school - including degrading traditions in which younger pupils are forced to act as servants for older ones - and violent initiation ritual. It had warned school authorities to take action against several times.

"Phenomena that are regarded as inacceptable in society at large have become normalised" at Lundsbergs, the watchdog said in its report ordering the school to close. That included informal rules among the students involving power games, assaults and degrading slurs, it said.

The school said it will comply with all the watchdog's demands and aims to restart its operations as soon as possible.

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