Chrisland School Girl Sex Video - The Complete Story

Chrisland School Girl Sex Video - The Complete Story

My starting point is the children. It has always been that way. For me, even with the best form of care-giving to them - both at home and in other places of socialization, such as school - children are always prone to making mistakes as they carry out their various social roles. This is especially true because they are constantly subjected to various forms of influence, particularly those of their peers, which usually determines the nature and extent of their blunders. It becomes more concerning in these days of ubiquitous electronic devices, a never-ending Internet, and social media, among other things.

But what kind of safety nets or protocols do we put in place in society to ensure that when our children make mistakes, no matter how heinous, as they are prone to doing, the learning and correction process is made easier for them? And in ways that allow them to emerge from situations wiser and stronger, rather than becoming the targets of widespread public scorn, which could have far-reaching consequences, if not permanently harm them.

The recent sex scandal involving a group of teens from the Lekki, Lagos branch of the Chrisland Schools, who were in attendance at the World School Games in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, but ended up in a recorded sex situation that has thrown Nigerian society into a media frenzy in the past two weeks, brings the foregoing into sharper focus.

My initial concern was the manner in which the story became public through the appeal of the mother of the young girl involved in the situation, as well as five other boys. Her sense of trauma was raw, contagious, and heart-breaking, as was the accusation that her daughter had been drugged and raped.

Then my instinct cut through the chase, as I wondered how kids that age could have access to such high levels of psychotropic substances - could they have brought this with them from Nigeria, and how did this escape all the prying electronic eyes at the Nigerian and Dubai airports? Could they have gotten this in Dubai? But, with so many of them so young, how could the latter have been possible? And I wouldn't be surprised if many of them are first-timers in Dubai. So, how did they know where to get such drugs? Those were my initial reactions to the mother's accusations.

Following that, the narrative gradually shifted away from the accusation of rape and molestation, with various vicious and unkind interrogations and commentaries on social media, implying that the kids may have done what they did due to undue access and exposure, as well as a failure of care-giving. Following that, it became clear that the issue had been largely broken and driven on social media as a result of the intervention of some influencer, who did so either as a form of altruism or self-seeking pursuit, depending on whose perspective one chooses to believe.

As a result, my dominant instinct was spot on - no matter how much pressure we are under, we will always need to exercise some level of caution and be very careful about how we take issues involving children - or even any issue at all - to the highly impersonal and nasty court of social media. This has the potential to exacerbate such issues, giving them a new life, spin, and texture that could eventually come back to haunt everyone involved, especially children.

While the Dubai sex 'tape' controversy raged in the media, fuelled by the egos of those seeking to assign blame and crucify others - particularly Chrisland Schools (which I thought was a bit hasty), did anyone consider how the social media crucifixion and lynching might affect the mental health of the children involved? Or even harm the reputation of the institution involved, when everything was still in its early stages and there wasn't enough clarity about where the fault ultimately lay.

After all was said and done, and with the benefit of hindsight, one is almost swayed to consider Chrisland Schools to have been largely negligent, newer evidence and how the issue has panned out forces one to reconsider, that perhaps the earlier quiet way in which the school had sought to resolve the issue was possibly in the best interest of the teens involved. We now know that, contrary to what we were told on social media, the school reached out to the parents of the children involved and made efforts to both reprimand and rehabilitate the children involved.

However, the influencer involved, along with the willing online cohort, was in such a rush with only one version of the story, whipping up a social media storm, that not only spun and initially ran this version of the narrative, but also quickly decided on a cast of villains and victims. This cast was paraded before a lynch mob, which mocked and then hanged the children, alongside Chrisland Schools, before finding better game in the crucifixion of parental irresponsibility. I'll get to the latter point in a moment. Did anyone pause to consider that these were children involved, and if there could have been a better way of dealing with issues involving them? 

Essentially, I place a large portion of the blame for how things subsequently spiralled out of control on the government. I believe that the government should develop a better system for dealing with these issues when they arise, including rules and regulations on how to handle such crises, as well as penalties for indiscretion in disseminating information about children. More importantly, there should be warnings about how social media issues can deeply affect children, traumatize them, and ultimately harm them, which should be widely disseminated and promoted.

The first step should be the distribution of advisories, followed by advocacy on the need for people to be more cautious before engaging in social media trails, particularly in relation to specific groups of people, such as children. While the Internet - and social media - appear to be a fairly nebulous and uncontrollable space, there must be some sort of effort to regulate/manage information concerning specific categories of citizens, in collaboration with platform operators.

This could be in the form of agreeing with social media platforms to restrict access to and sharing of content that is potentially harmful to these groups of people, when an issue arises and drives traffic. Why would Twitter, for example, allow indiscriminate access to and sharing of the Dubai sex video?

In addition, the government will need to impose sanctions on those who can be identified. When an issue is given wings without verification and is later discovered to be false, and some of those wrongfully accused are found to be innocent, there must be consequences for the harm done to the accused person or institutions. This is especially true when the damage is difficult to reverse or contain.

Importantly, how effective is it for the government to always respond in a knee-jerk manner by closing down schools when a crisis like this arises? What happens to the vast majority of people whose educational development is suddenly halted? Is it fair for them to suffer as a result of the actions of a few? Couldn't processes be put in place to manage and consider these issues before rushing to impose blanket punishments like school closures before the issues are fully determined? While it is heartening and commendable that Chrisland Schools have reopened and students can catch up on their exams, the government should design a more sensitive response mechanism in the future. 

For me, the most important issue involved in the sex video crisis is how we choose to raise and care for our children, which could either continue to lead us to crisis or help us to rein it in. Many people would prefer not to blame parents when problems like this arise, believing that even with the best of parental care and intentions, children will always find ways to express themselves - for better or worse. Furthermore, the school is a more important location for socialization and shaping of children's conduct and behaviour.

However, the fact remains that the primary location for child care and development is the home, which is the starting point from which children depart and return. I am convinced that we cannot delegate the agency of home/parental care to other levels of care, such as the school. Parents continue to bear the greater burden of or primary agency in terms of care-giving and child-rearing, while the home remains the very first point of socialisation and care matrix. Children did not just appear in the world; they had some form of socialization and education prior to their contact with formal education.

When deciding to become a parent, there is a whole world of responsibility that must be seriously considered before embarking on it. During the most critical stages of development, children would require the care and guidance of their parents. As a result, parents must pay attention and make it a fundamental part of their parental responsibilities to know everything their children are involved in - their friends, entertainment habits, and so on; and there is a need to monitor online behaviour, which is now an unavoidable part of our lives.

Many children, it appears, live double or triple lives, with one manifesting at home, another at school, and yet another - which could be more closeted - possibly known only to a select circle of peers, etc., where they can experiment at the limits of socially acceptable conduct - possibly out of curiosity.

We live in a world that is significantly influenced by a pervasive sex culture, which pervades almost every aspect of experience - from TV to advertising to popular culture, and so on, and this is one reason why parents must pay attention.

While I agree that it takes a village to raise a child, including all levels of informal and formal care, I believe that parents bear the majority of the responsibility. I believe that the parents bear a large portion of the responsibility for whatever happens to our children because they gave birth to them and these children supposedly spend the majority of their waking hours with their mothers and fathers. That is how I feel about the parents of the children in the Dubai sex video, both boys and girls.

There is a level of parental responsibility involved that cannot be transferred to Chrisland School. Parents enrol their children in these prestigious schools and provide them with a slew of internet-enabled devices, which they should closely monitor and use to shape their children's online access and behaviour, thereby limiting their exposure. In a fundamental sense, it is also the parental duty or responsibility to know their children's friends, the influences they are open to, and to prevent these children from having multiple personalities.  

It's also upsetting to learn, albeit from unconfirmed sources, that the mother who raised concerns about her daughter's activities in Dubai is also being physically abused by her husband. If true, this demonstrates how the nature of a home can also influence a child's outlook on life and the behaviours she exhibits in larger social groups.

All of this does not completely exonerate Chrisland Schools from responsibility for what occurred. The school's response, via Mr Akin Fadeyi, a member of its Advisory Board, is reassuring, stating that the school is "putting in place child protection protocols and working with experts to safeguard any repeat of such incident in any of the Chrisland Schools, going forward." 

And, as Dr. Reuben Abati stated in his column a few days ago, it is also important to note that Chrisland Schools' management appears to have changed its game and strategy in crisis communications. The moment Mr Akin Fadeyi's press statement hit the newsrooms, and considering how the social media and traditional media were bombarded with a well-orchestrated alternate perspective, it was clear that Chrisland was not going to be a sitting duck this time and allow itself to be punched into abysmal submission.  

"It is a miracle of a crisis management outcome, how a rape and drug narrative against a school, which is capable of sinking the school's reputation for good, was turned on its head until the public believed "there was no rape and there was no drug under our watch," a colleague joked with a serious undertone a few days ago. It's a miracle that the public's attention shifted away from Chrisland and began calling into question the credibility of the mother of the girl involved, as well as the credibility of the family as a whole.

Chrisland Schools' management appears to have taught other schools how to take a few punches but return salvos in multi-blows until the aggressor is subdued. Without sugar-coating the reality: It was clear to media practitioners that Mr Akin Fadeyi, who served as communications advisor and spokesperson for Chrisland and the entire team he worked with, did an outstanding job. His press statement was astute and skilfully addressed the issues; his appearances on Channels TV and ARISE TV programs were calm, gracious, and audacious. Chrisland was going through a difficult time, but the school's administration rose to the occasion with a teachable pushback strategy that left its accusers literally gasping for air.

Furthermore, Chrisland Schools' image now requires a major overhaul, and it appears that it has found the right direction to effectively redeem and rehabilitate its reputation with its current communications team. Chrisland has taught other corporate citizens that an organization that takes the media and public inquisition for granted, without professional human capital to manage it, puts itself in grave danger.

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