One of the big questions that worries most parents are: Are my children safe when they’re not with me? The ‘ALUU 4’ killings happened as a result of the effect of an inherent ‘bullying’ tradition. Parents know that kids are often reluctant to tell them about bullying. Consequently, many parents are finding it increasingly harder to know if their kids are safe and protected at school. How would you define bullying? What comes to mind immediately? Fighting, obtaining, slander, pushing, shoving, name calling, insulting, and taunting are some that resonates in the mind. Any type of physical or verbal harassment where the intent is to harm someone is considered bullying.
According to Federal Ministry of Education (2007), since the last decade, several cases of violence against children such as torture, kidnapping, shooting, sexual harassment, rape, corporal punishment and so on have been reported in various newspapers, magazines and television stations all over the world. In Nigeria, even though cases of bullying had been reported in many schools, this deviant act is not always given any desirable attention. Furthermore, there are no available statistical facts to show the actual number of students that are bullied or victims in Nigerian schools.
Some myths about bullying include:
- It’s part of life.
- Boys will be boys.
- It happens at all schools; don’t worry
- Sticks and stones will hurt my bones but words will never harm me.
- Bullying never did me any harm.
- It’ll toughen you up.
I don’t accept any of the above. Some adults are scarred for life as a result of bullying. The fact remains that every child matters and one can never really know how bullying may affect a particular child.
- Adopted anti-bullying programs.
- Ensure the school has a trained counsellor/psychologist
- Fill the school with posters and slogans
- Create conflict resolution lessons as part of the curriculum
- Invite guest speakers
- Provide in-service training to all staff
- Monitor hot spots around the school with appropriate student/teacher ratios (hallways, cafeteria, playground, parking lots, and buses.
- Distribute policy statements to students and parents.
- Seek parent involvement on committees
- Conduct parent meetings.
- Utilize student and parent surveys to gather data.
- Document reported incidents.
- Provide counseling support.
- Involve parent organizations and the police department.
- Review and evaluate everything.
All of the above is as worthless only if the school has the leadership to make things happen. No one is going to care more about your child than her most important teacher, nurturer, and protector which is you.