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When learners turn their teachers into punching bags

In recent times, there have been reports of students beating up their teachers in some secondary schools in Ogun State. GRACE EDEMA writes on the causes, implications and solutions to the negative trend

On Monday, October 25, 2021, some hoodlums, allegedly hired by some students or their parents invaded the Community High School, Ijoun, in the Yewa North Local Government Area, who bashed their teachers and pursued them out of the premises. A number of the teachers were said to have sustained varying degrees of injury.

The incident happened barely a week after students of the Unity High School, Kajola, Ibooro, in the same local government area, allegedly employed thugs to also beat up their teachers.

For about two weeks, reports of how students beat up their teachers to stupor or hired hoodlums to help them do so in Ogun State have gone viral on social media.

For instance, on October 27, it was reported that a Senior Secondary School 3 student beat up a Mathematics teacher, simply named Mr Owolabi, while teaching the SS1 students.

It was gathered that the student, whose identity was not disclosed, suddenly walked in to the class while the teacher was teaching and started beating up a female student.

When he was cautioned by the teacher, he allegedly descended on the teacher and beat him to stupor.

Again, on October 29, a student of the Technology Institute, Ojo Iyanu, who planned to disrupt the ongoing examination through the use of a gun, was caught at the school’s gate during a compulsory stop-and-search.

Both students have been apprehended and are said to be in police custody

Asides the kidnapping of schoolchildren, which scares both learners and teachers away from schools, especially in the North, assault on teachers by their students, if not stopped, can make the teachers to lose interest in the profession and also scare other students away from schools.

As a result of the ugly trend, schools may also be and time and other resources wasted.

Similarly, when the learners, who teachers see as children being trained to become better Nigerians, decide to be a pain in their neck by becoming violent, then there is a need for a complete revaluation of the educational system with more attention paid to the learners, especially in Ogun State.

One will naturally query the development of students beat up their teachers. There have been reports of how students bring charms to schools to intimidate their mates and teachers, or transfer the pain they are supposed to go through while being punished back to the teacher.

It is such a traumatic experience for any teacher to be beaten or manhandled by younger people he or she is trying to nurture into a better adult.

Why are some students violent?

Negative peer pressure, impact of social media, music contents and their perception about these have always identified as contributory factors to younger people becoming violent.

A lecturer and clinical psychologist, Department of Psychiatry, College of Health Sciences, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso, Oyo State, Dr Oluwafisayo Adebimpe, explained that most of the moral decadence exhibited by students could also be traced to their homes, saying parenting styles also contribute negatively to the development of children.

Adebimpe stated, “We have some parents, who are authoritarians, uninvolved and permissive; these could reinforce the unresolved hidden negative behaviour of the individual. Dysfunctional family background is one of the major contributing factors.

“Growing children, who witness all sorts of abuse –physical and verbal – are prospective candidates for violence and aggression. Most times, they see it as a normal way of life and an expected standard of behaviour. The learning interface in their immediate environment is polluted with maladaptive behaviours.

“Some of the students abuse psychoactive drugs such as alcohol, heroin, marijuana, cocaine opioids and methamphetamine, which can lead to psychological dependence with serious mental health problems.

“There could also be underlying traits of antisocial personality disorders. Those with the disorder begin to show symptoms in childhood, but the condition cannot be diagnosed until adolescence or adulthood. They tend to break laws, lie, act impulsively and lack regard for their own safety and that of others. They are very manipulative, exploiting, violating, antagonise others, they consistently disregard right and wrong.

“This is mostly common among the males. Most of these students will have a sort of conduct disorders before the age of 15. Conduct disorder includes truancy, bullying, skipping classes, running away from home, sexual behaviour at a young age, drug and alcohol use.”

The Director, BMS, Dr Tide Olalere, noted that some students learnt violence from their parents and peers/bullies.

“Apart from this, when a child is beaten all the time for every misdemeanour, he can react,” he stated.

Similarly, the Project Manager at Virginspride Limited, Mrs Bukky Femi-Ajala, explained that students become violent because the society had failed them and they did not have role models.

She said, “The people they see are violent – the politicians, lecturers, teachers, their parents and the society. Although our national anthem says, ‘Help the youth the truth to know’. How do they know when nobody is intentionally and deliberately training them and role-modelling them?

“Social media and lots of movies have aggravated violence coupled with the high poverty rate, lack of good education, no hope for the Nigerian child and lack of access to basic amenities at home. All these cause tension in the minds of the youth and they divert energy into violence.”

Implications of students’ attack on teachers

When teachers experience attacks from learners under them in schools, it sends a wrong signal and their reaction can have a negative impact on the education system.

Some of them may withdraw their services, while others may come to school armed as a form of defence against violent students. The presence of men in uniform in schools will also cause tension.

So, the implication of having violent students attacking their teachers is more than imagined.

“If the student is above 18, the law will take its course, but if a minor, the law will send him or her to a remand facility.  But we do not apply laws; rather, we tend to say its home value. Yes, it is, but how do we correct that child and also stop future occurrences? This is where I believe that aside the law taking its course, the schools should put up policies and adhere to them,” Femi-Ajala said.

Olalere stated that the implication was that indiscipline had grown wings in schools and society, adding, “The implication is that teachers will no longer feel free to correct their students and the quality of teaching and learning will nosedive. The future of the students will be in jeopardy.”

 “If appropriate measures are not taken, the teachers, who are supposed to be in charge of discipline, are now being disciplined becomes an aberration. Most of the teachers will voluntarily withdraw from their responsibility, which will be detrimental to the students,” Oluwafisayo stated.

Way out

It is important for all stakeholders to resolve put a stop to indiscipline and attacks on teachers by students.

Olalere said there should be rules, which parents and their children would have to agree to at the point of admission, adding that every school must have a clear vision known to all its stakeholders.

“The school must have staff policy guidelines regarding reward and punishment. Violators should be punished. In addition, there should be a clear channel for students to air their grievances. The guidance counsellor should be active,” he advised.

Oluwafisayo advised that students involved in such an anomaly should first undergo psychological evaluation and assessment.

“The students and their parents must go for the rehabilitation/treatment process, preferably under a licensed psychologist. There should be intensive psycho-education on moral standards and building a sane society involving all relevant stakeholders, including the parents, teachers and students. Stringent measures must also be put in place in terms of disciplinary action in order not to bastardise the educational system,” Oluwafisayo stated.

Femi-Ajala said, “Let’s start from the home, these children are products of a home. What are the values got from the home? Let’s check that out and correct it. We need to restructure the home such that parents have time and mindsets to sit and train the children.

“Community life should be restored; this is off the street where you can correct someone and the person will appreciate it. There is stress everywhere, so everyone is minding his own business. Government should reduce poverty level. Where is character building right from primary school? Who is a Nigerian? Do we know it?

“Adults are guilty of not sharpening the youth. Where did the boy get a gun from? If you trace it, an adult was involved. Most of the gangs have adults as patrons, so how can we groom responsible adults? It’s time to execute the laws and let the rule of the law take its course. Corruption has also crept in that I can do anything once my parents can beg through or I can threaten the principal to keep shut and not say anything.”

While speaking on the serial attacks, the Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Ogun State, Prof Abayomi Arigbabu, said the errant students would be expelled and prosecuted along with their accomplices.

Arigbabu, who gave this warning in Abeokuta while addressing the management and zonal education officers across the state, explained that the government would continue to frown on such acts of indiscipline, adding that those who were caught previously had been arrested and charged accordingly.

He said the ministry would collaborate with law enforcement agencies such as the police, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, So-Safe Corps and others to ensure that normalcy was restored in schools.

He stated, “The governor is really worried about the unruly trend of hoodlums coming into our schools to beat up our teachers, and he has frowned on such act of indiscipline, therefore any students caught in this act will be made to face the full wrath of the law alongside their accomplices.

“Ogun State is known for being the home of respectable and responsible citizens, and we will not allow any act that will tarnish our image.”

Arigbabu pledged that his ministry would look into the immediate and remote causes of the unruly behaviour and find ways to tackle it. He advised teachers to give a good account of themselves at all times.

Nigeria Union of Teachers

The Ogun State Chairman, NUT, Mr Abiodun Akinola, told our correspondent that before the session began, the union requested security personnel on the school premises from the government but it had yet to provide it.

He also cautioned teachers, both in the public and private sectors, to be more friendly and caring to their students.

Akinola stated, “Parents are frustrated and in distress; some of them do not have time for their children and transfer aggression about their inability to provide for the home to their children. Some teachers are also frustrated and aggressive; the question we should ask ourselves is that why was I not beaten? Why were other teachers not beaten?

“Teachers should show more love and care to these children just as if they are their children. I commensurate with our colleagues who are victims. The government should also provide security personnel in our schools since some of our teachers can no longer punish errant children as expected.”

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