Opinion

Dowen College: We are all guilty, By Peju Akande

Access Bank
As a rule, if I pay for a service and don’t get value; I raise hell!

You see, I am offering value in return for a service, so if the service provider treats me like he/she is doing me a favour, I have the option of walking away with my money or demanding to be given full value!

It is not rude to demand for quality in exchange for money and should I have a complaint for a client I have been with for years, he/she had better listen to me because, me leaving isn’t just one customer leaving, it is me and two or three others who will hear about the shabby way I was treated, who will be via word-of-mouth tell the others and we will leave you at first in trickles, then like a flood until you are left with nothing!

Business owners in the service industry know how important a customer is; that’s one lesson Dowen College needs to learn as well as the rest of us who render services one way or another for a living.

If a man puts all his children in one school…no matter how affordable or not the school is…that man is your biggest customer and should be cherished!

If a man trusts his future into your hands (his children), pays your exorbitant fees for more than 5 years, that isn’t the customer you want to wash your hands off especially when he cries foul about something wrong in your school.

If the man says, “my son died because of your negligence”; that isn’t the time to make claims as to what and what does not happen in your school.

It’s the time to say, “You know what? We are sorry for your loss and we will investigate, meanwhile, we will pay for the autopsy, so we can find out exactly what killed your son and to prevent it from happening again.”

But for the videos we all saw, the case of Sylvester Oromoni Jr would have just been another case of mere hearsay or a sob story we oh and ah about.

But we are outraged because we all saw the video of Sylvester!

Video that showed Sylvester in pain.

Video that showed he was unable to walk properly and had to be carried

Video that showed his blistered and bleeding mouth and the pain he endured.

Video that showed his dead body! (Though I personally do not agree with this bit)

But for these videos; we would have believed Dowen College truly had no hand in the boy’s death especially after they issued that press release; we would have thought Dowen College, too prestigious a school to let this kind of thing happen.

We would have simply thought that Sylvester Oromoni Snr was merely exaggerating and claiming his son died a painful death and then we would have carried on with our lives.

But Dowen College has treated the Oromini family badly. A family that put four of its children through your school, is among your number 1 customer. They have pumped money, energy, goodwill into Dowen and the least the school should have done was to ensure autopsy was conducted by them since the father of the boy said he died from injuries got from being bullied at school.

Now we are hearing all kinds of horror stories of things that have happened in that college; of teachers not being able to scold students, of rich parents throwing their weights around and of kids running reckless and more bullying going unchecked!

This is the time Dowen parents and parents of children in schools should begin to ask their children serious questions, “Have you ever bullied anyone in school?”

“Have you ever joined any of these students to attack another student?”

You see, if your child is a bully, you are raising a terrorist in the house; his/her activities may seem like child’s play today but could potentially result in something deadly tomorrow.

I bet the parents of the boys named by Sylvester wouldn’t be crying today if they had nipped the bullying bug in their kids in the bud. (Not that regular parents condone bullying; this case has shown us that parents need to pay more attention to their children’s activities)

The next questions you should be asking your kid is:

“Have you ever been bullied yourself?”

“Do you have hidden scars, pain, fear, trauma from being bullied?”

Then beg them, “Please don’t hide episodes of you being bullied from me, I don’t want to lose you.”

Bullying should not be a culture in our schools; I doubt that it will ever end but it shouldn’t be openly acceptable as the norm in schools. It should not be seen as a Rite of Passage.

To ensure this is at least minimised, schools should have a whistleblowing policy, where pupils can report anonymously because these children dont want to be seen as snitches.

And when reports are made, the authorities should be seen to carry out due diligence to locate culprits and victims and handle each accordingly.

There needs to be a lot done, not just by Dowen College, which has become the poster school for bullies, but for many schools like Dowen College who hitherto have ignored reports on bullying.

It won’t stop, let’s be honest but at least it can be minimised to prevent deaths and perhaps lessen trauma.

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