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Bullying: A new threat to Nigeria’s future

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Gone are the days when empathy, compassion, kindness and humaneness were instilled in children. Alas, a lot has changed over the years as moral decadence such as bullying, inhumanity, corruption, injustices, gangsterism, cultism, thuggery amongst many other social vices have become the order of the day.

This has affected the values and moral character of  Nigerian youths adversely. Like any other nation, Nigeria is not spared as the society is bedeviled by myriad of moral decadence that threaten its social, political and economic well-being. The yardstick for morality keeps getting shorter by the day. We are in the age where people hardly have any sense of shame or shred of morality left. We are in an era where “I did it because” has become the biggest excuse people give to justify their condemnable actions. One of these is the unprecedented incessant cases of bullying ravaging the nation.

Bullying is the habitual and repeated use of force, coercion or threat to aggressively dominate or intimidate a person. The heinous act can be done individually or by a group, known as “mobbing”. Bullying is not limited to Nigeria, rather, it has been described as a global and long-standing issue which needs urgent attention from both government and other stakeholders.

In addition, bullying as a cold-blooded intentional cruelty has infiltrated all strata of the society. It occurs anywhere there are human interactions ranging from homes to schools, even workplaces. However, it is believed to be mostly prevalent among children and youths not only in elementary schools but also in Nigerian secondary and tertiary institutions.

Stories of bullying incorporating sexual harassment of students across schools in Nigeria are becoming the norm. This barbaric act has been allowed to spread like wildfire among students over the years as these students could be either the aggressors, victims or bystanders. With the fact that there’s no standard policy against this, bystanders who watch the images of cruelty and violence everyday can ultimately become hardened to it thereby breeding more bullies. Most of the victims of bullying suffer physical and emotional trauma while others have lost their lives in the process.

This brings to mind the recent viral video that surfaced on the internet on May 25, 2024 where a 200 Level Engineering student of Ajayi Crowther University, Oyo, Oyo State, identified as Akron Chamuke, popularly known as Alex was brutally murdered by his school mates. Alex, also a prince of Warri in Delta State, was brutally murdered for allegedly stealing a phone. Nearly everyone believes this alibi to be a blatant lie concocted to protect those involved in the heinous act. The deceased was stripped, his hair shaved and was gang-beaten from 10 pm on Friday to 6 am the following day and abandoned in the rain where he later passed on.

Ever before bullying attained this alarming dimension, some places in Nigeria were noted for bullying either at individual or mob levels. In the meantime, this bad blood became infused into our system to the extent that most people have lost feelings for the pains of their victims. The country has gotten to an era where the wail, plead and the sorrows in the eyes of victims of this heinous act are what most youths derive pleasure in.

It’s so disheartening seeing our future leaders this cruel and becoming monsters. Imagine, beating a life being for hours till he lost his breath, a young man at that, whose parents are patiently waiting for his wins even with the effrontery of recording it. No conscience at all, I wonder how people sleep and go about their daily activities after carrying out their evil acts like it never happened. This is to show the high level of decadence and immorality in the nation.

Meanwhile, series of related cases have been recorded over the years and in recent times. Let’s take a quick walk down memory lane.

It was recorded In November 2021, that a student of Dowen College, Lagos State identified as Sylvester Oromoni died after nursing multiple internal injuries he reportedly sustained after being beaten by some fellow students who were bullying him at his boarding school.

In the same vein,  in June 2021, a 14 year old Karen Happuch Akpagher of Premier Academy, Lugbe, Abuja was sexually assaulted and later died of complications believed to be from the incident l.

Also, in December 2020, the story of a young boy of 11 years and a student of Deeper Life High School, Uyo, broke the internet on how he was physically and sexually molested by his seniors and starved by the school authority for bed-wetting.

Likewise, let’s not forget the recent bullying case of Namtira Bwala, a student of Lead British International School, Abuja in a viral video that was posted on April 22, 2024 where she was seen being repeatedly slapped and bullied by her fellow students.

However, amidst peer pressure and bad media contents, most people have blamed the increase in this barbarism and lawlessness majorly on parents who have failed to instill into their children strong moral values, thereby breeding and raising monsters in the society. “Charity begins at home” they say. Some put the blame on the educational institutes for condoning such act from students. Who exactly is to be blamed? Rhe parents, educational institutes, government or the society at large?

It is also revealed that inadequate deployment of surveillance equipment like CCTV in our public places such as schools, market places, major roads and other flash points in the country thereby resulting to poor response from the security personnel to save the victims from the claws of their devourers aggravate the number of casualties recorded in the nation today.

Probably, the major reason might be because there is no standard for checking morality. Who knows if the Anti – bullying Act of 2013, a law set to combat bullying in the Nigerian primary and secondary institutions is still effective!

If not, then the future of the nation is at stake as the society has become unsafe for raising brighter future leaders. Most parents and guardians are resorting to home-schooling their children as fear of losing them to the claws of unrestrained barbarians grips their heart. I believe it’s about time the Nigerian government leapt into action by implementing a standard policy as a precaution against such barbaric act. Anyone found guilty of this act should be dealt with according to the extant laws.

Nevertheless, parents should always instill in their children, right from when they are toddlers, strong moral values so that when they grow, they won’t depart from it regardless of peer pressure or what society might say. They should raise their children in love and  build in them sense of confidence and security. Acts of kindness and compassion should be promoted among children and society at large.

So also is the educational institutes, they must not only inculcate discipline in the students and teachers through verbal counseling but must make sure morality is built into the curriculum for maximum impact.

In conclusion, it is also believed that religious bodies too have the social responsibility in the character and moral formation of their adherents and worshippers. They should continually instill into their worshippers numerous virtues that would make them better individuals.

Adebayo is a corps member with Saturday Tribune.

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