Ibraheem Ogunyemi

Reports of bullying in schools in Nigeria are on the rise and show no signs of abating .

Bullying comes in various forms and can have long-term psychological impacts on victims .

Some students have died painfully and untimely while some have sustained long lasting injury, both physically and mentally.

Experts revealed that this menace could result in low self-esteem for victims, increased violence and juvenile crime within the school environments.

 A worrying statistic shows that 70 percent of bullied students did not report the incident while 27 percent said they reported the incident. Also, of the 27 percent who mentioned that they reported, 41 percent of them claimed that nothing was done to the perpetrators after they were reported.

 Bullying has become somewhat acceptable in schools and students are sometimes expected to adapt .

An entrepreneur, Michael Udoh, while recounting his experience at Federal Government College, Idoani, said: “We were told that some seniors locked-up a junior student in a dark wardrobe or locker and left him there for days, and he died. We were told how some senior students beat a boy till he passed out, was rushed to the hospital and confirmed dead on arrival.

“There have been several cases of students’ deaths due to bullying and torture, and government does not prosecute or fire any teacher or member of staff who are being paid to groom the young ones.

“I remember the case of one of my classmates who was impregnated by a teacher in my school. She was less than 16, at the time, which automatically makes the sex statutory rape. She tried to commit an abortion, there were medical complications and she almost died. She survived though. This girl was expelled.

 Our principal at the time blamed it on those of us wearing shorts and tight uniforms, while the teacher continued teaching in that school.”

An educationist, Mrs. Toluwani Adams, said children being bullied would not like to inform their teachers in order not to be betrayed. “I have discovered that children do not like reporting their bullies, the only way to know that a child is being bullied is through behavioural change. This means teachers must be watchful; the signs are always there to show that a child is being bullied. For example, if a child who used to do well in his studies suddenly begins to lag behind, teachers should intervene.”

An Associate Professor of Development and Clinical Psychology, Mrs. Grace Idowu, defined bullying as a persistent, threatening and aggressive behaviour directed at a weaker, younger and less powerful individual. She added that such action could be verbal or physical.

The psychologist said an individual with the realisation of being bigger and stronger than others could develop the tendency of harassing smaller and younger pupils.

Idowu further stated that bullying starts from homes ,she said: “Children are not born to be bullies, they obviously learnt it from home. If a child grows up in a home where the father constantly bullies the mother, the child might grow up to become a bully, which the child was exposed to. If it is a female child, she may not become a bully, but she may end up acting like a male child. This is because she had been exposed to a rough, aggressive and volatile environment.

“Some parents are not aware that the type of environment they create at home goes a long way in shaping their child’s future. Children copy what they see their parents do. My daughter is in Junior Secondary 2; she attends a public school. Nowadays, she does not want to play with her siblings. She always looks withdrawn and lost in thoughts. When I inquired from her teacher about her behavioural change, her teacher said she was being bullied by some of her classmates. The teacher said she had tried many times to caution the pupils, but they have refused to stop the act.”

Another research has shown parents find it very difficult to address bullying .

A psychologist, Fola Oke called on parents to always interact with their children and ask them about their activities in school on a daily basis .

“A child who is bullied would not be happy at school and at home. If the parents notice this behaviour, they should make the child talk. The parents should also inquire from the class teacher about those bullying their child.”

He added that parents and teachers should train children to be more bold and always talk when they have been bullied.

“The child must resist when bullied instead of sulking. He or she must come out of his or her shell. Sensitisation from parents, teachers and developing a bold personality are ways a child can deal with bullying.”

 “There is a link among bullying, depression and suicide. When a child becomes depressed, he has no peace of mind, especially in school. He becomes more depressed as time goes on and the only way of escape is suicide.”

Other psychologists have also called on students to always speak and complain of being bullied until it is addressed. either to their parents or school teachers

Most recently , a video was trending on social media , where a senior student from Bingham University, Abuja , was flogging a freshman barbarously.
The victim’s cousin, Jemima Nnadi, also a fresh student in the school, shared the video, alleging that such inhuman treatment was being meted out to fresh students like them in the university.  

“This is what they go through as freshers in the university—bullying. This student should be found and duly prosecuted,” she said.

Although the student has been expelled by the school management , this is just one of the few cases where justice prevailed .

School managements sometimes attempt to cover up some of these situations and the government’s silence can be profound .

A case in point is the matter of one Sylvester Oromoni from Dowen College , Lagos state , a 12 year old who tragically died under suspicious circumstances which led to a public outrage.

It was reported that he was beaten, assaulted and poisoned, an incident that led to his death, the matter is still in court.

There were allegations of cover-up by parents of the victim , the dowen management claimed his injuries were sustained while playing football .

Five students and five employees of the college were also cleared of any wrongdoing by the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Lagos state .

Another burning case was the issue of Deborah Samuel ,who was gruesomely lynched in school premises in Sokoto State by her fellow classmates over allegations of blasphemy .

There is no record of the perpetrators of the cime being apprehended till date.

There are several cases of bullying in schools and some universities , but not enough perpetrators have been held responsible.

Despite this , the government has not taken any decisive stance on bullying in schooling institutions.

This needs to change before bullying in schools becomes a national emergency if it isn’t already .

To eradicate this menace , experts said individuals; groups and systematic interventions should be implemented in schools and must include students, teachers, administrators and parents.

They also suggested a more advanced method of monitoring every activity that goes on in schools  , while urging appropriate authorities to put stricter laws in place for perpetrators .

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