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Sunday, January 16, 2022

On increasing rate of students/ teachers’ violence in schools

By Adetokunbo Abiola

On Monday, October 25, 2021, some hoodlums reportedly hired by students invaded Community High School, Ijoun in Yewa North Local Government Area of Ogun State, pummeled teachers and chased them away. At least two teachers reportedly sustained injuries during the attack.
The incident happened one week after students of Unity High School, Kajola, Ibooro, in the same local government area, reportedly contracted thugs to also beat up their teachers.
In addition, another teacher of Itori Comprehensive High School in Ewekoro in Ogun State, was beaten to stupor by students.
Schools in different parts of the country increasingly face students/teachers’ confrontations, with students pummeling teachers, or teachers pummeling students, illustrating that things have gone wrong in the nation’s schools, with thugs, bandits, and terrorists and other unsavory characters holding sway. On daily basis in Nigeria, reports give accounts of one form of violence or the other in schools. These manifest in different forms including bullying, shooting, sexual harassment, kidnapping and hostage taking among others.
The situation has gone so bad that the United Nations Children and Education Fund, UNICEF, said that about 1,436 school children and 17 teachers were abducted from Nigeria schools between December 2020 and October 2021. It also disclosed that about 16 school children lost their lives in the process of their abduction within the same period.
In Feb this year, the Osun State police command arrested a 19-year-old student (name withheld) of Oduduwa College, Ile-Ife for beating the school principal, Mr Ademola Sanusi, to a state of coma.
Scholars such as Olushola A. Iyekolo, Ifeoma P. Okafor and Isiaka Abdulaziz investigated factors responsible for such violent behaviours among secondary school students and published their findings in ResearchGate, a leading academic journal.
Their findings revealed that “the factors responsible for violent behaviours are extreme annoyance displayed by parents towards their children, extreme harshness towards children by parents, and inconsistent parental responses to children’s needs among others.”
Obilori Isaac is of the Department of Educational Foundation, Faculty of Education, Rivers State University , Port Harcourt, Nigeria.
On searching for other factors responsible for violence in schools, he said, “In the school context however, violence can mostly be due to loss of values and norms of society, intake of hard drugs, personality problems, psychological deficiencies created by dysfunctional homes and schools, violent television programmes and video games, the legal system, the government and poor counselling programmes.”
Unfortunately, violence in schools caused by poor counseling programmes and other factors provoke unforeseen consequences in schools, not only in Nigeria, but all over the world.
Laura Hinze worked on Tobias Hecker’s project for her master’s thesis in psychology and is now a clinical psychologist at an acute psychiatric clinic.
“Studies in recent years have shown a direct link between violence experienced by children and psychological problems. The more violence children experience at the hands of teachers and parents, the more likely they are to display emotional problems such as depression or social withdrawal and behavioural problems such as aggression or hyperactivity,” she said.
In December 2017, such an aggression took place, when a teacher was allegedly beaten to death by the family of her student in Anambra State. According to Voice of the East, the teacher was attacked for beating the 14-year-old student, Okafor Chinaza, at Starlight Secondary School in Ogidi. Reports say the unidentified teacher had flogged the student for failing to clean the classroom. Eyewitnesses said Chinaza responded in an insulting manner when the teacher queried her and also refused to obey the order to kneel down in front of the class.
Laura said such confrontations bring about other consequences in the affected students in middle schools and junior secondary schools.
“ The psychological stress makes it harder for students to concentrate and learn,” Laura said.
Consequently, according to Statista, the drop-out rate in middle schools in Nigeria is high, with the phenomenon slightly higher among male students. In the second class of lower secondary school, some 52 percent of males dropped-out, while the share of female students reached 48 percent.
Recently, a 38-year-old man, Abidemi Oluwaseun, led two thugs to attack a teacher for beating his 15-year-old daughter at Baptist Girls’ College, Idi-Aba, Abeokuta, in Abeokuta South Local Government Area of Ogun State.
Oluwaseun invaded the school in an unregistered vehicle, accompanied by two other persons, armed with dangerous weapons, to attack the said teacher. He was, however, arrested by the police alongside the two others who went with him to the school.
Lots of people are really worried about the unruly trend of hoodlums coming into schools to beat up teachers, or teachers and students confronting each other. Experts say passing laws is one of many steps to a societal change, as laws serve as a legal framework for charging offenders and administering justice. But laws cannot enforce themselves, since clear mechanisms that enable them to work with the least interference from both state and non-state actors must exist. When institutions are strengthened and allowed to work with adequate autonomy, the rule of law will take its course.
In a bid to follow the rule of law with regards the spate of school abductions in Lagos, the State House of Assembly passed a bill that places the death penalty on kidnapping as a means to halt violence in schools.
Olusola Owonikoko, a trained international development expert, agrees, saying, “When kidnappers and bandits know that they have no option of living or bail when caught in the act, their body language changes. While the death penalty is frowned upon in most climes, it remains, in my opinion, the only punishment befitting a kidnapper in Nigeria.”
Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State, stupefied with the increasing violence in schools, wants to give punishments befitting those who perpetrate violence in schools. He has been unrelenting in supporting principals and teachers in the discharge of their duties, urging parents and guardians to continually monitor and call their children to order.
”Any students caught in this act will face the full wrath of the law, alongside their accomplices. Ogun State is known for being home of respectable and responsible citizens, we will not allow any act to tarnish our image,” he said.
Whether this will cure the problem is another matter altogether.

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