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Sylvester, a JSS2 student of Dowen College, Lekki Phase 1, Lagos, was seen in a viral video writhing in pains all over him. He groaned and we could see that the young lad was bleeding internally as his mouth had blood in it. The controversial death of Sylvester has thrown not just his family, but millions of concerned Nigerians into a state of mourning and agony. On the other hand, the authorities of Dowen College have denied the claims that Sylvester was bullied and assaulted to death. They reported that Sylvester had sustained his injury while he was playing football. And certainly, Nigerians are not buying their story. According to the father of the deceased, Mr Slyvester Omoromi Snr., the son had opened up that he was beaten up by four of his colleagues for refusing to join their cult group. Before his death, Sylvester Jnr. was said to have confessed that he was forced to drink harmful substances by his assailants. He went ahead to mention the names of his five suspects before giving up the ghost. Many Nigerians have called for the total closure of Dowen College. Nonetheless, the Government of Lagos State shut down the school indefinitely, while the Nigerian Police Commands of both Lagos and Delta States are currently investigating the controversial matter. Despite the call to shutdown Dowen College, the school authorities are still defensive about the matter as it went on with academic activities online. While we mourn over the tragic death of Sylvester Omoroni Jnr., the case of student bullying in Nigerian boarding and day secondary schools is not strange. Earlier this year, Nigerians were thrown into a similar state when the story of Don-Davies Archibong, an eleven-year-old student of Deeper Life High School, Uyo, hit the airwaves. Don-Davies was subjected to all manner of inhuman treatment by his seniors on the account of his constant bedwetting. He was lucky not have to have died like Sylvester despite emaciating badly. According to reports, the Principal and the Housemaster had handed over Don-Davies to his assailants who subjected him to all sorts of inhumane treatments which included beating, starvation, and sexual exploitation. As Providence would have it, justice was granted as the principal, housemates and others were remanded in prison. This was courtesy of Dan-Davies’s mother who insisted that justice must be served.
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The death of Sylvester had many Nigerians narrate their own bullying experiences. While many are calling for the total closure of the boarding school system which came into existence courtesy of the British colonial government, others have stated the positive impact of the system, but rather control measures should be put in place. In concluding this article, Nigerians ask if school bullying can be eradicated from the Nigerian schooling system. Eliminating bullying is possible, however, it is a difficult task just like other social vices. Several experts and professionals have stated that the first step towards ending school bullying is to engage in nationwide orientation and education of all stakeholders – students, teachers, school owners, parents, the government, NGOs – on the idea, causes, nature, and implications of bullying. This orientation can be done through several means such as traditional and contemporary media campaigns on bullying and how to respond to cases of bullying.
How Can School Bullying Be Prevented?Students are to be taught in Social Studies and Civic Education classes, the nature of bullying and how to respond to it. Students should be made to even dramatise the negative impact of bullying in their drama groups. Experts have also stated that radios and TV dramas on bullying should be done in order to educate Nigerians. Secondly, experts have suggested that secondary schools should set up CCTV cameras that would monitor the actions of students. While this might seem like an invasion of privacy, experts have claimed that desperate times call for desperate measures. Thirdly, it was discovered that Dowen College had no provision of the Parents and Teachers Association (PTA) and had objected to the idea, which might have been responsible for the gap that gave room for cultism and bullying in the school. Therefore, the presence of a strong PTA should be encouraged in all primary and secondary schools where students can be closely monitored. Fourthly, the government must put in place very strong laws that can check the cases of serious bullying. Bullying is a global phenomenon, and as a matter of fact, a US study showed that 1 in 3 students are bullied and 45% of students experience bullying in schools. In France, over 700,000 cases of bullying were reported annually. In response to this, the French parliament passed a bill into law that imposed a jail term of three years and a fine of 150,000 Euros, in most serious cases. Nigeria must go tough on school bullying by passing into law measures that can control it. Fifthly, parents and religious organisations must instil in children morals and virtues that exposes the evils of bullying. It is the sole duty of the parent to primarily influence their children. Experts claimed that children copy violent behaviours from their parents. Therefore, parents must set worthy examples for their children. On the other hand, religious organisations must use the instrument of their children’s department to impact children with spiritual values of love, peace, and kindness and all other virtues enshrined in the Holy Books. Sixthly, security guards should be made available in all schools so that cases of student violence are immediately addressed. Studies done in the US showed that schools with a strong presence of security guards have lower cases of bullying. Setting up a quasi vigilante group that will go about inspecting school premises can help curb bullying. Finally, instituting an office for Complaints of Violence and Related Matters should be adopted in all schools. The responsibility of such an office is to monitor, prevent and address cases of bullying. Featured Image Source: BBC
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