Friday, 29th September 2023

Parents, schools, and children’s morality

By Editorial Board
08 May 2022   |   3:52 am
While the Lagos State Government continues its investigation into the Dubai incident involving some students of Chrisland School, Lagos, there are obvious lessons for all stakeholders in early education to correct the manifest anomalies in that sector.

(Photo by Saidu BAH / AFP)

While the Lagos State Government continues its investigation into the Dubai incident involving some students of Chrisland School, Lagos, there are obvious lessons for all stakeholders in early education to correct the manifest anomalies in that sector. For a start, it is clear that the country’s moral fabric is threatened more than the average person reckons with; and there are serious cracks in the institution of parenting and schools’ supervision.

Surely, it is not necessary to wait for the conclusion of the government’s investigation before both parents and schools’ authorities nationwide take a closer look at their operations. Nigeria is in a quandary over how to handle primary and secondary school students, particularly concerning social media.

There have been several reports and commentaries in the mainstream and social media over a viral video depicting improper acts among school children, who represented their school at the World School games, between 8 and 14 March 2022 in Dubai. The fact that some students filmed the incident and posted it online shows that morals, values, and ethics have broken down, especially in this era of new media. Only in delusion and denial of the truth can anyone claim that the moral fabric of the country is upbeat.

A schoolgirl in the video was alleged to have participated in a game – ‘Truth or Dare’, which led her and a few other co-learners to carry out the immoral act after the lights out instruction was given. So, where is the discipline in the home, school, and society? Certainly, there is the need for all and sundry to be cautious with social media.

Ordinarily, Nigerian parents do not permit a permissive lifestyle; what happened in the video however indicates that attitudes may be changing, consciously or otherwise. It is instructive that Chrisland School suspended the ‘protagonist’ involved in the improper behaviour indefinitely; while Lagos State Government (LASG) equally shut down the school, saying all allegations in connection to the incident are being investigated by the relevant Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs), including Ministry of Education, Office of Education Quality Assurance, Ministry of Youth and Social Development, Ministry of Justice and the Lagos State Domestic & Sexual Violence Agency. In addition, the criminal allegations have been escalated to the Commissioner of Police; and Lagos State Police Command has commenced an investigation into the matter.

The outcome of the investigation should serve as a basis for a comprehensive focus on parenting and schools operation. Without a doubt, child pornography and improper acts among schoolchildren may be rampant in other schools without proper regulations and monitoring. This is a shame and a sad reality, and a show of poor parenting and poor supervision! There is a need for standard procedure.

In this era of the Internet, social media and mobile phones; parents must guide against indulging their children without control. Some parents pursue wealth and abandon child care and socialization; spending more time on social and economic activities without creating or spending quality time with their children. In fact, some parents do not “know” their children and do not manage their children! They simply give them phones to watch over their physical safety without watching over their mental safety. This much has been strengthened by a visit to the social media handle of the ‘protagonist’ of the Chrisland School which shows several videos with sexual innuendos.

The core responsibility of child upbringing is on the parents; the evasive technique to push all the blame on the school should take the back seat. Parents’ neglect of children goes against every moral precept, law, and principle. At home, there should be house rules and parents must set boundaries, and have conversations around morality, values, and ethics. They should teach their children the need to limit involvement with the opposite sex and the implications of disobedience. There should be a mutual and cordial relationship between parents and children; Parents should start conversations early with their children.

While the home is where the foundation for child discipline is laid and nurtured; this Chrisland School case cannot be divorced from poor supervision, because parents and the school are co-creating. Generally, children are emotionally and psychologically unstable, imitate behaviours, and live in a world of fantasy without knowing the full implications of their perceived fun. This is why they are placed under the care of adults at home and in school because they require guidance and supervision at all times.

The incident epitomizes negligence and dereliction of duties; and shows that the caregivers did not do due diligence with the minors. There should be accountability and this issue should not be explained away, rather there should be consequences; and the school management should match growth with quantity and quality of personnel for improved child supervision and protection.

Parent Teachers Association (PTA) should work with schools to design guidelines for what children share on their school’s WhatsApp group platforms; and if possible, have a rule that only the telephone numbers of parents should be used for class WhatsApp groups so that parents can be involved in the communication process.

The children involved in the Chrisland viral sex video, if the allegation is true, should be given adequate medical and psychosocial support, including general counselling and trauma therapy. Counselling should be provided by appropriately trained personnel.

The current investigation of the Chrisland school saga should be expanded to include law interpreters and non-state actors such as media, NGOs such as Child Protection Network (CPN) Nigeria, child rights activists, psychologists, therapists, religious leaders, community leaders, and women leaders to ensure thorough investigations and professional handling.