Justice4Sylvester: We have a broken society ||Caleb Onyeabor

Newsie Events Media: #ViewPoint

We turn a blind eye to issues and find our voices when one case attract massive public attention. Suddenly everyone becomes an advocate, to join the trend and not miss out of the bandwagon, a short time later, we return to our cocoons waiting for the next big case to repeat the first process again.

We cannot be acting so surprised thereby denying the fact that bullying is an endemic practice in our school system. It did not start today. It is a generational thing. It has become deep rooted. There are many parents who wrongly think of it as part of the training a child must undergo to become strong – the African kind of strong which is hardly complete unless a person has faced a form of suffering.

Parents who complained have been dismissed as “ajebo parents” who are overly protective of their pampered wards. Children who spoke out are branded weak. The “During our own time” gang will open their gullets with pride and vomit stories bragging about why what you are facing is nothing compared to what they have faced. When you return from a boarding school in Nigeria and you do not look lean, people are usually disappointed. This is because we expect you to suffer, to not be comfortable and it should show in your bodily appearance. Isn’t that why you were sent there in the first place ? To face tough conditions and come out tough ? You see that we have a problem of a skewed society.

Those who suffered bullying ended up becoming bullies themselves. After all, they have been made to understand the system. A time to suffer as a junior student and a time to enjoy as a senior student. Isn’t that the system ? People whose reactions are that today’s parents bring up monsters as children who then bully other kids are not entirely sincere. 20 years ago, there were bullies. 30 years ago, there were bullies. It is as bad today as it was in those days and even worse. It is a system. Children get into such schools, learn to survive it and then become monsters at their own time.

We may choose to continue to pretend about the depth of the problem and perform the contemporary ritual of demonstrating outrage only when an issue trends and move on afterwards, ignoring the need to address an issue until another one happens.

If the woman whose child was sexually molested in that deeper life school some months ago is not strong enough to pursue justice for her child, the issue would have been swept under the rug. The capacity of the parents of Sylvester will determine how far justice will be done in this case. This shows you how shallow our legal system is. Perhaps, we are hearing the noise because the parents could afford to put up a fight. To send your kids to schools in the league of Dowen and that deeper life high school, parents must be rich or members of the middle class. What about parents whose kids attend remote Government schools where, in my opinion, these things are worse ?

Take the lady whose child was sodomized, are we saying we are not aware of what is happening in all boys or girls schools in this country? Are we saying we are unaware of what is going on in seminary schools ? Or are we saying we are unaware of the age-long practice of seniors dealing with and maltreating juniors in schools ? Most of us were victims and bullies as the timing of the system we passed through dictated. If we could conduct a honest survey of students, we would find worse stories. Are we saying until it leads to death like in the case of Sylvester before we speak against it ? Many children facing these things will not die but they may end up becoming monsters and damaged. Is that what we want ?

We need to admit that it is time to end this. The solution must be holistic. From Government down to Parents. We need to be conscious and begin to engage our wards. Parents association should always engage school authorities. Parents should engage their children whether they attend boarding or day schools, private or Government owned. There are many children going through what Sylvester went through in silence and are being damaged in the process. Laws need to be enacted and a machinery put in place.

This thing is more than #justiceforsylvester it is about putting an end once and for all.

Look at America, children are committing suicide in numbers due to bullying. If we don’t mean and intensify the campaign against bullying, we may get to that stage. The next generation of children cannot tolerate and survive the nonsense we and our fathers went through.

Caleb Onyeabor is a Nigerian intellectual, an avid advocate for political justice, social justice, and economic justice. Author of Diary of a Messed Up country. Follow him on Twitter via twitter.com/caleb_onyeabor   

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