The controversial death of Sylvester Oromoni Junior, the 12-year-old student of Dowen College in Lagos has continued to spark reactions on social media. A few days ago, the deceased’s cousin had taken to Twitter to allege that Sylvester was beaten and brutalized by his schoolmates for refusing to join a cult, and that the injuries he sustained from the beating eventually led to his death. The school management had later released a statement debunking that claim, saying that Sylvester died as a result of a hip injury he sustained from a football match.
The boy’s family alleged that Sylvester mentioned names of the boys who were involved in bullying him before he died, and three of those names were published online.
Sylvester’s father alleged that before he died, the boy confessed that he did not play football, that five boys barged into his room, switched off the light, and began to beat him up while other students ran off.
Sylvester’s death has sparked conversations on social media on the safety of our boarding house system for secondary schools, with some people vowing that they can never send their kids to a boarding house.
This conversation gains more weight when we take a look back at the case of Don Davis, the 11-year-old boy that was allegedly abused at Deeper Life High School in Akwa Ibom State a few months ago.
The case of Don Davis had attracted widespread attention when his mother, Deborah Okezie, took to social media to allege that her son was starved and molested by some senior students of the school.
She claimed that when she went to visit her child in school, she noticed that the boy had terribly emaciated, and after prodding on him, he alleged that he was molested by senior students, and that they threatened to kill him if he reported the matter to the principal or his mother.
It is possible that there are other kids who are victims of bullying or molestation in boarding houses, but the cases of Don Davis and Sylvester Oromoni were lucky to gain attention in recent times.
Some of us are products of boarding houses, so it is sad to hear these kinds of sad tales about the system. The truth is that people need boarding schools for different reasons, and it may not be proper to condemn things because of isolated incidences. But to tackle sad incidents like this, more attention needs to be channelled to addressing bullying in our schools.
The root cause may not be being in boarding or day school, but every school needs to have an active anti-bullying policy to address these issues.