The tragic death of Sylvester Oromoni Jnr., a Junior Secondary School (JSS2) student of Bowen College, Lekki, Lagos, has brought to the fore the growing culture of violence, bullying and hate crimes in the nation’s school system. According to reports, the late 12-year-old Sylvester Oromoni died as a result of complications arising from brutalisation by five senior students of Dowen College.
Initially, the school authorities claimed that the late student sustained injuries while playing football. However, his family insisted that he was tortured by school bullies. The victim also narrated the gory details of the torture before his death.
The incident has further exposed some of the shortcomings in some of the so-called elite schools. It is sad that despite the high fees charged in some of them, the safety of students cannot always be guaranteed. While the death of Oromoni has elicited national outrage and condemnation, many parents have threatened to withdraw their children from the school.
Following the sad incident, the Lagos State Government promptly shutdown the school. The police also arrested five students of the college in connection with the incident, while investigation is still ongoing. The affected students were remanded in a juvenile home.
Therefore, we urge the police to unearth the circumstances surrounding the death of the student and prosecute diligently all those involved in the heinous criminality. The best way to prevent this incident in future is to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to book while necessary laws are put in place to criminalise bullying in and out of school.
The late student was allegedly brutalised by the arrested five students for his refusal to join a cult group in the school. President Muhammadu Buhari has condemned the dastardly act and vowed that those involved must be punished. We also enjoin the president to ensure that there is justice for the late student.
Apart from the depicting the growing violence in the society, the Dowen College incident can be traced to rising indiscipline in secondary schools and poor supervision in some private schools.
We decry the growing culture of indiscipline and bullying in our nation’s secondary schools, especially in boarding houses. The school authorities must rise up to the challenge and ensure that discipline is restored in these schools. They should make sure that all students are protected.
At the same time, we call for stringent regulations against bullying in schools as well as adequate supervision in all schools to forestall all acts of bullying. Parents should pay keen attention to their children, with the view to knowing when they are being bullied or maltreated in school. Bullying and corporal punishment must be banned in schools. All schools, both public and private, should come up with pragmatic policies against bullying. And let there be enough stringent sanctions against bullying.
Bulling in schools has been a recurring phenomenon in Nigerian school system. Last year, a JSS1 student of Deeper Life Secondary school in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, was brutalised by some students. Before the Oromoni case, a 14-year-old female student of Premier Academy, Abuja, was recently raped to death.
There are likely to be more of such cases. The absence of laws against bullying must have been responsible for the escalation of bullying cases in schools. In the United States (US), 50 states have laws against bullying. There are also federal laws against school bullying in the US. More than one out of five students had reported being bullied in their life in the US, prompting government’s decisive move to curb it.
According to experts, bullying within or outside the school refers to one or more perpetrators who have greater physical or social power than their victim and act aggressively toward their victim by verbal or physical means. The types of bullying are verbal, physical, psychological, cyber, sexual and others. Although bullying can be experienced at any age, it is more common among children of school age.
Some of the signs to show that a child is being bullied are unexplainable injuries, symptoms of anxiety, post-traumatic stress, lost or destroyed clothing, changes in eating habits, declining grades and others. The declining moral values can be blamed for violence in the society and by extension the school system.
Since the family is the primary agent of socialisation, the societal value system must be inculcated in children by their parents before they go to school. We believe that lack of adequate security in the country might also be responsible for the rising culture of intolerance and violence in schools. The safe school initiative must ensure that there is security and protection of all students in the nation’s schools.