After its initial knee-jerk reaction and almost two weeks of blame-game, the Lagos state government has ordered the reopening of Chrisland Schools, perhaps in realisation that, although it takes a village to raise a child- and that includes the school environment, the foundation of that training starts with the home, that is the parents.
The school was shut down over controversial sexual acts involving minors/students of the school in far away Dubai. The action of the Lagos state government won’t (and shouldn’t) stop investigations into the case, but at least, it won’t retard the progress of examination classes and the over 70 other students on the same trip who were not tainted by the naughty few.
What happened in Dubai is a peek into the moral crisis facing us, an indication that something has gone wrong with our society, and in the kind of training we give our children. In fairness, we all share in the blame; however individual family values cannot be discountenanced too, in how a child behaves at home and out of the home.
Chrisland Schools had organised the students for the World School Game (WSG) in Dubai with another Nigeria representative, St Saviours school, Ikoyi. The WSG had over 900 students from across the world for U-11, U-13 and U-15 participating, with the game “providing an opportunity to showcase the very best in athletics, swimming and football on the world stage”.
A Chrisland learner, Durowoju Temiloluwa emerged the Most Valuable Athlete in the (U-13) event. Sadly, this moment of glory for Chrisland’s youngster has now been overshadowed by the highly embarrassing display by another minor involved in erotic sexual act that has since gone viral.
Even though the school can take responsibility for what went wrong, the parents of the girl have more questions to answer. The raising and training of a child start from the family unit, and from the way the girl acted like a pro in that video, it is obvious that something had earlier gone awry with her upbringing in form of sexual abuse/molestation without the parents noticing. It soon turned out that the girl had social media handles where she showcased her erotic dance steps, body display and had garnered over 20 thousand likes and clicks.
How did she get to that level you might ask? I do not know either, except to hazard some guesses. In the name of civilisation, love for their kids, and exposing them to the best money can buy, some parents literally spoil their children with expensive gifts including gadgets such as iPhone and Samsung loaded with data which invariably expose the affected children to the endless possibilities of the digital era. It is obvious that the minors in the video had such gadgets, yet these are kids that do not work or earn money.
And because the very girl in question and her ‘co-actors’ are minors who deserve sympathy, counselling and psychological evaluation, who else do you blame but their parents especially mothers, in the light of the new revelations that have come up.
The Chrisland Schools authority was said to have accommodated the girls at the 11th floor and the boys at the fourth floor. They had about five chaperons checking/guiding them and that fateful day, had done same, only for the girl to sneak out to the boys’ fourth floor room after midnight. This girl in particular was already out of control at home obviously.
One of the parents, a celebrity who accompanied her son to the event, Shola Ogudu has alleged that the girl belongs to a clique known for nasty things, while advising parents to pay attention to what their children are exposed to.
“I accompanied my son to represent his school at the just concluded WSG and I can say for a fact that the (the girl) in question was definitely not raped. I remember vividly the shock in my son’s face when he was telling me about a video some other kids were watching.
” He said mum, I couldn’t stand the video, I had to excuse myself. He said the gist circulating was that the girl and her click played a game of truth or dare, of which this particular girl couldn’t stop the ‘dares’…seeing this post now and the twist of it all, I just couldn’t take it, because I know for a fact how very strict the teachers on the trip were and blaming such immorality and negligence on the school is unfair because it definitely wasn’t”, adding that even if the teachers break their backs for kids, “charity begins at home”.
Before we blame the school, this well-worn out cliché should not be lost on all of us. Where did we get it wrong? Why did we suddenly forget our primary duties of being responsible parents; mothering, guiding, mentoring, helping children to decipher and teaching subtle sex education. Instead we run from pillar to post in pursuit of money that may later constitute a problem to those children.
For her, it is either there is abuse or pornography around their home or there is disconnect between mother and child and so what the girl did in Dubai is, to her, just normal. How unfortunate indeed that social media is now amplifying bad parenting and decadence.
A quick internet check reveals the rich, excellent pedigree of Chrisland Schools which has produced a lot of today’s important individuals, parents too and brilliant minds in its over 45 years of operation, who themselves have been good ambassadors of the school.
So, before we crucify Chrisland Schools, let us look inwards and ask appropriate questions. Have we done our bit as parents, and if this girl was abused, why is it that the parents never discovered it? And this by no means is not saying that the school should not do more. They have to. Besides has the government also done enough oversighting of the proliferation of private schools? Of course, the answer is no.
Private schools have become ubiquitous because government has since abdicated its responsibility. Government is near absent in our daily lives, and private schools fill the vacuum created by their absence, after all most parents patronising private schools are themselves products of well-run public schools. That was then.
Anyway, here is another opportunity for introspection and the propriety of sex education in schools and age-appropriate discussions between parents and their kids. Above all, no child should have access to modern gadgets (especially android phones) and data (except for the purpose of assignments) until after their secondary school education. There are also parental control features on these phones making the rounds. We should endeavour to read and practicalise it in our homes.
For the ‘limited access’ approach, so far, this has worked in my household and a few others I know. This is also a wake-up call for us to imbibe in our kids, moral instructions, decorum and religious teachings.
Zainab Suleiman Okino is the Editorial Board Chairman of Blueprint Newspapers and a syndicated columnist. She can be reached via: email@example.com