Sunday 23 December 2012

Opinion: Our Children Deserve Better - Respect Them

A mental case
A recent news story has brought the leadership of secondary schools under the searchlight where a principal has not only been indefinitely suspended but there is a view that she should undergo psychiatric evaluation.
Mrs. Olufunke Aladeojebi, recently, the principal of Ajuwon High School, Ajuwon in Ifo Local Government Area of Ogun State in Nigeria probably within reason as the person ultimately responsible for the education and welfare of her students might have been concerned that some of the females in her school on reaching puberty were taking liberties with their sexual curiosity.
It’s a dilemma, alright
The principal, in loco parentis was presented with a dilemma of how to react to the onset of adolescence and the raging hormones that accompany such natural human development; she could have reacted in any number of ways that could have presented her with the better opportunity to inform, educate and probably warn her students of the possible issues and dangers that accompany exploring and expressing one’s sexuality.
Apparently, she is notably a strict disciplinarian which in Nigerian parlance almost has nothing to do with discipline and instruction but everything to do with severe punishment as a means of re-education that exploits the pain thresholds of the recipient whilst dealing an atrocious emotional battering to all including the innocent.
These innocents are then literally scared out of their wits unable to think intellectually of the consequences of their actions apart from associating it with the fear of shame - that is usually the only weapon in the strict disciplinarian's arsenal of imparting wisdom - Fear nurtured by terror.
This is sadism
Deterrence has its functions but when school leaders use their authority as an instrument of pathological sadism to maintain control of a situation that has probably gone awry, more suffer unnecessarily and can be so seriously traumatised without essential mental health help that this might have life-long consequences.
The principal, on suspicion, and I state again, on suspicion; not that any of the girls were caught in the act of sexual intercourse. The principal suspecting some of her students were engaged in pre-marital sex and she was particular about the girls and not concerned with the boys; she invited a nurse as surety whilst she and the nurse proceeded without the consent of the girls’ parents to conduct a virginity test.
Crude is making light of it
This was not some questionnaire to elicit the truth of her subjective reasoning posited on a warped moral duty to maintain a sense purity in her school. Rather she proceeded to subject the girls to the heinous and reprehensible indignity of probing their private parts with fingers as if to determine if the hymen had been broken and with glee and euphoria greeting the confirmation of her instincts catch the girls in the most compromised of situations allowing her to probably expel the girls from the school and in the process temporarily destroy their future prospects.
It so happened that whilst engaging in this act of criminality that goes to the extremes of sexual abuse and the violation of the civil liberties of the girls, the unprofessionally crude and barbaric act led to injury presented as bleeding which can only be due to these women having damaged the hymen they were not expecting to be intact.
At the very least and this is not to condone or offer the remotest absolution to these terribly wicked women whose savagery is unspeakable, this rotten test should have been conducted by or under supervision of a qualified gynaecologist.
Society’s acquiescence
This kind of egregious violation of the students, especially females is played out without respite in many secondary schools all around the country and even in universities that somehow act as if undergraduates are adults who need to be treated as prepubescent or adolescent.
Sadly, we have a society that condones these acts in the name of maintaining some communal morality imposed by fear rather than by information and knowledge.
It is then so unusual that parents have raised the alarm at this sententious abuse of authority that the Ogun State Ministry of Education have moved to act in the best interests of the civil liberties and rights of the students than default to type about falling moral standards that need to be addressed urgently.
We must help better
As the principal is sent for psychiatric evaluation presaging committal and consequently barred from ever being in charge of students, I do hope the students affected are offered professional counselling and therapy to assuage the trauma they have suffered.
It is important that we recognise that children have inalienable and inviolable rights that should never be infringed upon in the name of maintaining some moral standard regardless of religious instruction or sense of moral duty.
The outrage is more than justified because we are at a time when between the conflicting influences our children face, the best we can do for them is to treat them first as individuals, respect them as human-beings, instruct them with empathy, educate them with understanding and inform them to enlightenment.
We must learn better
We should unschool ourselves from the primitive and outmoded forms of corporal punishment as a means of effective instruction to engage their intellect, offer them responsibility, entertain their searching questions, expand their horizons, praise their good work, inform their curiosity and when we are inclined to condemn anything they do we should be mindful of what change we want to see and lead with a greater sense of duty, love and compassion.
All children grow, they reach puberty and there are emotional issues that come with that development; on matters of sexuality what our wards need is information and education, we must agree that is not offered through intrusion and violation of their bodies – certain things need that we address them clearly without embarrassment than hope that our wards will gain knowledge through some form of ethereal osmosis.
We must all be involved
The matter of how we violate our womenfolk for the maintenance of some societal norm is an extensive topic and it is seriously hypocritical to place the complete burden of responsibility and dire consequence on the female when in the majority of cases, it takes both male and female to engage in the sexual intercourse that concerned that principal.
Our boys are not entirely innocent of exploring their sexual interests; they are almost always praised for their sexual conquests without moral sanction whilst their female counterparts are left to carry the shame of premarital sexual liaisons that sometimes result in pregnancy.
Boys and girls alike deserve better of their supposed role models on these matters of sexual development, morality, education and direction, if we address their bodies rather than really address their intellect, we have inadvertently reclassified them as no better than animals – eventually, when retribution comes, a psychological evaluation of our mental capacities will be the least of our problems.
I will appreciate your views on this topic.
Thank you.

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