Various organizations across the world and Africa have raised an alarm over the rising cases of bullying among Kenyan schools. Secondary schools in Kenya have the highest number of bullying cases with most victims not able to speak out due to threats and fear inflicted in them by the bullies.
Most of the bullies are senior classes students who claim to have experienced the same when they were junior and they take it as revenge. The junior students or the newly enrolled students experience beating, being thrown out of food ques or their food is taken, and also having their belongings taken.
Most of the victims have ended up in hospital with serious injuries and others in critical conditions. The victims get affected in terms of concentration and willingness to stay in school and opt to quit or transfer to another school. Those who remain live with fear and their learning is affected ending up recording poor results.
Sexual Abuse in Kenyan Schools
Sexual harassment among Kenyan schools has destabilized the learning of many school pupils and students most affected being young girls. Male teachers have also been blamed for the increased cases of getting in sexual relationships with their pupils/students.
Most of the victims have given up on their studies after getting pregnant and becoming teen moms. Without the knowledge of the rule of the law, many cases go unreported ending bright students’ future of becoming the person of their dream.
In high school where bathrooms are shared, many students have experienced sexual harassment from other students. Junior students are prone to these harassments from their seniors through touching them and even others forcing them to sleep with them.
The bullies have developed an adaptive language to silence the victims (ivo ndio hukua, na itakuaga tu ivo), that’s how we found it and it will always be like that.
School principals and headteachers have also developed the habit of hiding evidence to protect their job and that of their fellow teachers. This has lead to many students suffering from sexual harassment and bullying without them having the courage of speaking out knowing no action will be taken and they won’t get justice.
Factors Encouraging Bullying in Kenyan Schools
Some schools have given other students more authority over others in the name of Prefects, Captains, Head boys/girls, Monitors, etc.. Most of them have given authority to punish their fellow students when they break schools in the absence of teachers. This has made many students suffer in the hands of their fellow students which has affected even their performance.
Lack of serious punishment on the culprits of bullying has made many victims lose confidence in some schools. After reporting serious bullying cases, culprits are just warned by a word of mouth. The culprits hit back with more threats since no harsh punishment was imposed on them. This has left victims with serious injuries.
Some students also face bullying due to their performance. Poor performing students are called names and considered losers. Also, top performers are also called names but not greatly affected like the poor performers. This has made some learners drop out and others changed schools and this has destabilized their studies.
Students with different health conditions have greatly been bullied for being different. Like learners with dwarfism have been greatly bullied in the last few years like in 2020 an Australian dwarf student, Quaden Bayles gained global fame in a viral video after he was bullied in school.
In the video that was viewed hundred of thousand times on social media platforms, Quaden Bayles’ mother says; “I’ve just picked my son up from school, witnessed a bullying episode, rang the principal, and I want people to know – parents, educators, teachers – this is the effect that bullying has.
Quaden is seen in the same video saying that he wants to die. “I’m going to die right now..give me a knife. I’m going to kill myself. Give me a knife so I can stab myself in the heart. You watch me… I want someone to kill me… I want to die. This proves how bullying is affecting many learners who some cant speak for themselves.
Who to Blame
Teachers should be blamed for hiding evidence of bullying incidences. In order to ensure that the name of the school is not spoiled, teachers have been hiding bullying incidences to protect their schools and their jobs. This has caused the education of some learners who opted to drop out comparing some schools with prisons.
Teachers should also be blamed for giving some learners the power to punish others. These learners go beyond punishing and beat fellow learners inflicting serious injuries.
Some parents should also be blamed for not making regular follow-ups on how their children are. After taking them to boarding schools they just sit and wait for them to come for holidays. Parents should regularly visit their children in schools to know whether they are okay and comfortable at school.
Learners should also be blamed for witnessing their fellow learners being bullied but opt to keep quiet. Some victims have also opted to remain quiet and suffer in silence. This is due to the threats imposed on them.
The government should also be blamed for being soft on headteachers who hide evidence on bullied students. It should take serious actions against them including suspending them and being investigated and if found guilty they should face the rule of the law.
The government should also take harsh actions on students who bully others. They should be punished as per their actions and they should be set as an example to other bullies. The government should also protect the children with different health conditions by building special schools for them. They should also have specialized personnel to handle them. The government should also ensure equal opportunities among all learners regardless of their special conditions. The government should also create awareness on the effect of bullying in schools, workplaces, and in other public places.