How negligence by school authorities is fueling an alarming trend of bullying in Nigerian boarding schools

A boarding school is an institution of learning where the students live in the school premises for the duration of their studies, and hence it is supposed to be free from threats, in order to facilitate learning ability.

While we cannot draw a conclusion as to whether boarding schools are good or bad, some recent developments in boarding schools in Nigeria are giving individuals pause and sparking societal outrage.

Over time, the boarding school system has been a preferred choice for some parents, especially parents who felt the system was beneficial to their children, to build their social maturity, personal growth, empower them school and help them with peer learning.

But lately, the media has been inundated with different stories of physical, sexual abuse and intimidation being perpetrated in boarding schools across the country.

Often these stories have slowly faded away without the culprits being punished.

About two months ago, there was outrage on social media following the death of Sylvester Oromoni, a 12-year-old student from Dowen College in Lagos State, who died of multiple internal injuries believed to have been suffered by beatings from older students who intimidated him. in the school foyer.

The late Sylvester’s family had alleged he had been attacked for refusing to join a ‘cult group’ coordinated by older students at the school.

In a video that went viral, Sylvester could be seen covered in blisters, struggling to breathe and in tears as he recounted his ordeal at the hands of his alleged attackers, before passing away.

However, the school denied each of the allegations, stating that Sylvester was injured while playing football with his classmates. The school management also claimed that he received first aid from a resident nurse and returned to his hostel after expressing his relief.

We will not forget Karen-Happuch Akagher, 14, from Premier Academy, Lugbe, Abuja, who was allegedly sexually assaulted and later died of complications following a condom left in her private part.

Karen-Happuch’s mother alleged that she was raped and that a condom left in her vagina caused an infection that led to sepsis and trauma that led to her death.

The mother also said Premier Academy had frustrated all its efforts to get answers and seek justice for her daughter, saying the school had continuously protected the alleged pedophile and then embarked on a media stunt to save her life. face.

Recall that a year before Premier Academy, a parent whose son was attending Deeper Life High School, Uyo, shared the story of how his 11-year-old son was abused on social media.

She had shared photos of him before and after the terrible experience at school, she said the boy was sexually assaulted and bullied by classmates for wetting the bed. The school had also tried to save face in this matter.

Bullying has seen a sharp increase, especially in boarding schools, with multiple situations where stronger children exploit the weakness and vulnerability of others.

It has been discovered that most of the boarding schools in the country do not separate the junior hostels from the senior ones, and most of the time the bullying takes place in the hostel where the senior students always have the upper hand.

It is advised that school principals look into this matter and take the necessary measures, thereby separating households and ensuring that each level/class maintains the status quo.

A 2019 study by the US National Center for Education Statistics showed that one in five children between the ages of 12 and 18 experience bullying.

Similarly, a 2007 study in Nigeria by Elizabeth Egbochukwu in the Journal of Social Sciences showed that four out of five children are at risk of bullying.

Although unacceptable, bullying becomes the norm in boarding schools and is seen as a rite of passage, as junior students grow up hoping to inflict the same inhumane treatment on students behind, and the loop continues.

According to these viral stories, most of the inhumane treatment inflicted on these victims was inflicted by their classmates and covered up by school authorities.

This leads me to ask, are students really safe in boarding schools? Are school principals only looking for financial gain and not caring about the welfare of the children in their care? These questions and many more are necessary questions that need answers.

Although some people are of the opinion that schools can only try, because the family where these students come from has a bigger role to play.

The family is the most powerful and first level of socialization and change in society. Therefore, parents and guardians have an important role to play, ensuring that their children/wards are provided with good morals and ethics.

Every individual, good or bad, is an extension of a home and family, and often the lack of proper home training often contributes to irregularities in schools.

To stop this threat in our boarding schools, everyone has a role to play. As parents/guardians, strive to raise your children/guardians with good morals so that they are not a source of pain and trouble to other members of society. Additionally, schools should be careful about students kept in their care, with zero tolerance for bullying between them.

The government should also review the boarding school system in the country. The Federal Ministry of Education should establish strict guidelines for the operation of boarding schools across the country.

In addition, cases like this should be properly investigated, with perpetrators of identified crimes being prosecuted and punished in accordance with the law.

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