A Consultant Neuro-psychiatrist, Dr Maymunah Kadiri, has called for the creation of a mentally healthy school environment in both private and public schools across the country.
This followed alleged sexual acts in a viral video involving pupils of Chrisland School.
Kadiri, who is the Medical Director and Psychiatrist-in-Chief, Pinnacle Medical Services, Lagos, Dr Maymunah Kadiri, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Wednesday in Lagos. She noted that a healthy mental environment entails creating spaces or platforms where students could freely express their feelings.
NAN reports that a sex tape involving some minors from the upscale school, including a 10-year-old female student, had gone viral, sparking outrage and condemnation.
The alleged sexual act took place when the pupils travelled to Dubai in March 2022, to take part in the World School Games, a four-day annual competition with schools from all over the world.
The incident became public when Ubi Franklin, a Talent Manager, on his Twitter handle accused the school of complicity in the sexual violation involving the 10-year-old girl.
Reacting to the incident, Kadiri blamed the alleged sexual violation on lack of platforms for free self-expression and interaction with professional therapists or psychologists in school environment and in the society.
The neuro-psychiatrist said there was need for the provision of phone lines or platforms where students could easily connect with therapists or psychologists to freely express themselves when facing challenges.
Dr Kadiri said that schools should go beyond having the normal school guidance and counsellor, to engaging a professional therapist, who interacts with the students on regular basis.
She said, “Let schools create spaces and platforms where students can freely connect with psychologists and therapists to discuss their experiences and feelings.
“Schools should engage therapists and psychologists that come to the school like twice a term to have a one-on-one talk with the students.
“When professional therapists interact with the students, he or she can easily understand where the problems are coming from and apply measures to prevent ugly incidents of this kind.
“Let Nigeria normalise talking to therapists. We must not wait until sometime happens before we start looking for solutions. Let’s learn to prevent ugly incidents from happening by taking appropriate preventive measures.”
Dr Kadiri emphasised on the need for the Chrisland school pupils, teachers and the entire management to undergo psychological debriefing.
She said this became necessary to enable the school members to recount their experiences, ordeals and observations during, after and even before the incident.
According to her, the school should upscale its efforts in teaching and inculcating good morals and values in the lives of the students.
She said: “The school as a whole needs to undergo psychological debriefing to enable them to outpour their minds and experiences concerning the incident, which will go a long way to help in reshaping the school.
“Yes, it is true that parents have a key role to play in supporting their offspring. But, the truth is that children spend more time in school.
“So, the school has a huge role to play in ensuring that the children are safe, consistent and well-grounded in morals and values.”
To the parents, Dr. Kadiri advised that they should learn to listen to their children non-judgmentally, and create free atmosphere for them to freely interact and express themselves.
According to her, the best way for parents to help their children’s mental health is to give them words to express and describe their feelings.
She identified discipline, effective communication and personal morals as things parents should pay attention to when raising their wards.
“By giving children words to their tongue, you are actually giving them permission to speak their mind.
“This victim (girl), for one month didn’t tell her mother, why?
“So, there’s that gap there. They must not go to the extent of beating her before she can express herself. Parents should create that mutual relationship with their children.
“As a parent, you have to learn to listen to your children non-judgmentally; don’t listen to respond, but listen to understand,” she advised.
Dr. Kadiri noted that the girl involved and her parents should go for individual counseling and therapy to be able to understand how to cope, manage and overcome the situation, as well as the traumas associated with it.
She noted that the girl would have already formed opinions and ideas that only special care can change.
“The girl in question and her parents need to go for individual counselling and therapy to understand how to better handle the situation, and is a must for them,” she added.