Five girls in school uniform were recently captured smoking shisha in a video that has gone viral. They were said to be students of Oreyo Senior Grammar School, Igbogbo, Ikorodu, Lagos State. It is yet unclear who filmed and posted the show of shame on the internet, and whether the person did so with the consent of the delinquents. But thanks to the video, the identities of the culprits and their school are known, making it easier for the relevant authorities to intervene. The students reportedly went from school straight to a boyfriend’s house to savour an orgy of smoking; and they are in trouble now only because there is a video. Shisha, consisting in the inhalation of tobacco through a bowl or tube solely or in combination with molasses, has the effect of opium on the smokers, and that is the attraction of some youths to the ‘drug’. It should be noted that the drug situation in the country is much more grievous than the video shows. In other words, there could be several other girls from the same school and other schools in different parts of the country who, off the public glare, are exhibiting fractured character and attitudes by engaging in deviant behaviours in groups.
It was bad enough that the girls left their school for a boyfriend’s house without the consent of their parents or the knowledge of their teachers, but to engage in an activity that often serves as a prelude to a life of criminality is terrible and concerning. To imagine that what these girls had done probably pales into insignificance when compared to what their male counterparts are doing is really sickening. And it exemplifies how degenerate the society has become and the bleak future that looms. Truth be told, it would have been surprising and patently illogical to expect children and youth to put up their best behaviour in a society that is sliding precipitously into the abyss as a result of the ignoble activities of some irresponsible adults. There is so much criminality and widespread aberrant actions in the land that children and the youth tend to view oddities as the norm. And the situation is hardly helped by the fact that the public space is daily suffused with worrying and distressing news of grave criminal actions in different parts of the country, which are fast becoming the rule rather than the exception.
The prevailing condition of delinquency amongst children and youth in the country smacks of multiple jeopardy. Some parents are delinquents themselves and so incapable of giving their children and wards the proper upbringing required of them to become responsible adults. And sadly too, some parents who seem to be morally upright are finding it difficult to create time for proper parenting out of their busy schedules in pursuit of material wealth. And unfortunately, these things are happening at a time when school discipline has virtually collapsed. Worse still, critical societal institutions, including governmental, religious, traditional and family formations that had customarily helped in instilling moral values and shaping the character and behaviour of citizens have drifted from that path of honour, having apparently prioritised self-interest over humanity. The consequences of those acts of critical omissions and negligence have crystallised and are obvious for all to see.
The errant behaviour of the schoolgirls in question is just a snippet of the decadence that has crept into the society and it, in a sense, mirrors what is happening in the official circles, and in the private lives of many a Nigerian. It is good to know that the delinquent schoolgirls have been sanctioned by the school authorities. They have been reportedly handed an indefinite suspension while the relevant agency of the Lagos State government has arranged for their rehabilitation at a centre where they can get needed professional help, because it is obvious that the girls have psychological and emotional issues. The approach of the authorities in weighing in on the schoolgirls’ ignoble behaviour is commendable. However, going forward, school authorities and parents are encouraged to go beyond reactions and partner together to design mechanisms for observing and nipping students’ aberrant conduct in the bud before they are translated into socially objectionable actions.
Parents in particular are enjoined to provide needed guidance and appropriate leadership to their children and wards so that they can grow to become good and reliable adults. What the country is currently experiencing daily in the hands of delinquent adults is simply horrendous, and it is rather concerning to observe ominous signs that some children and youth are already treading the path that will make them natural successors to the felons.