Are young ones safe these days?
The report from a secondary school in Lagos comes as a shock; that news report about schoolmates trying to have forceful carnal knowledge of their female students at the end of their secondary school leaving examinations. That news about some boys trying to rape their mates who most probably they had at some time indulged in youthful plays, studied together and shared their hopes and fears about the future together-the way only mates would bare their minds to none other but a kindred spirit who were brought together by a school and presumably spent some years there together.
On that day, some boy/boys came to school armed with a sharp object- a pair of scissors, and caused a stampede in the school compound. They zeroed in on a victim who they fell down, so went the story. One boy not only cut her skirt deliberately, he slashed through her underwear and wrestled with her on the ground. He continued to struggle with her and with his trousers down and the girl fought to save herself even as she was down. But then that woman came before she lost the fight and saved the situation.
All these happened before it was dark with spectators among, who were the school’s guards, who saw it fit to record the attack on their phones as it happened but not fit enough to stop the assault or rescue that girl.
This has gone beyond indiscipline in a school. It could only be called the evil that creeps gradually on the society, which, if nothing is done to stop it, could spread wider.
It seems that boy now knows that the best way to settle a score-have his retaliation because of the quarrel with her or her shunning his advances for friendship, is a public disgrace which in this case is a lifetime feeling of stigma. Yes mother, if your baby boy is bold enough to do this, he has gone far, farther than you think in that area.
Hooliganism by secondary school students is not unheard of, but it could be said that they have been respectful enough to take misbehaviour outside the school’s compound-unless it is a quarrel with their school-like increase in school fees or levies, but which the payment of damages was a deterrent. But rarely have they harboured such amount of ill-feelings against a fellow student, especially a girl who goes to the same school with them.
Sometime in 2016, I was around the National Stadium when boys in different schools’ uniforms were trying to disturb the peace not far from the stadium. In no time, some soldiers who were passing by picked up those who were in the centre of the disturbance. The rest did not need more warning.
Not long ago, male students used to respect the females in their schools. The last few moments of high school, although were full of reminiscences and also the planning for the future which they saw full of dreams and promises, but it was also a time a youth may be plagued with fear that he was about to lose his friendship of many years. It did not matter the friend’s gender. Gender was no issue with an innocent mind. It should still be the same way with some co-educational schools. Like a school I visited on Victoria Island just a few years back. This school had won laurels in school competition and you could see the cooperation between the students, male and female and their teachers.
When young people who have not left school commit serious crimes, the first question anybody asks is; where do they come from? Many times, they are wondering under what types of home such kids were raised. They would only query a school when their students performed below standard and fail examinations. The school may come under scrutiny when the students commit serious crimes often.
So, with a misdemeanor such as this, where a student is attacked, and others applauded the attacker, here, the school will certainly take the blame but the parent would not be let off the hook either. A crime of this gravity is an individual offence which makes your son a guest with the Law even when he is underage. The adult one could go to prison when he has not began to live his life yet.
Parents should notice when a son has degenerated to the point of raping a girl in broad view, with his pants down. Granted that many people are of the view that public schools do not care enough for their students, but they could not have encouraged a student to make an X-rated film although their guards make you wonder with their inertia and keen recording of the details of the attack.
Anybody could imagine the mental state of the girl who feels stigmatized as the one who was violated after the WASSCE examination. What future were they giving her? What memories would she have left secondary school with? Is that how to send children forth?
A mother who is watchful should know when her son is going down that lane. Youth at that stage of life like to show off. He will use words that should alert you-strong words that come out as threats or derogation of the female gender. And if he has gone as far as to experiment in public, you have noticed but chose to ignore it.
If your precious boy begins to sound like an “area boy” and you think that the school is spoiling him instead of molding him, change school. A rapist may strike at random victims, but the problem is that he wants to commit the crime, so he carries arms in the form of a gun, knife or any sharp object.
There is a way to look at this, too, his father for example; if he sneers at women and thinks they are there for his picking, his son is watching and listening. Bring it to his notice; he should know how to handle it.
You hear dreadful tales about cults and their activities these days. It has been said that youths at that age get initiated into bad cults, only parents can talk to children about the dangers of keeping terrible company and they will listen, talk to your boy. If his association with that big boy makes you uneasy, choose the time they are together to ask him to do something else.
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