As many primary and secondary schools across Nigeria continue to remain vulnerable to attacks by kidnappers and other criminals, many people, parents, guardians and school administrators alike, are worried about the safety of pupils.
Security experts and educationists have said that if schoolchildren had basic safety education, they would, perhaps, help to avert such incidents or help in catching the perpetrators.
Children could, they reasoned, raise the alarm and send SOS messages without alerting the attacker. Armed with the knowledge of basic first aid and equipped with skills in self-defence, they would be able to help themselves when in harm’s way.
In this light, a security expert and the Managing Director of MYK Crime Control Services, Mr. Dayo Oshunmakinde, urged school proprietors, teachers and parents to teach pupils fundamental safety tips for security, fire and general emergency situations so as to be equipped for what he describes as “the drizzle ahead of a rainy day”.
Oshumakinde said, “It is not possible to always be around your child. Children need to go out and simply be children. In the process, they meet a lot of people, including strangers and non-strangers who may not mean well for them. They may also happen upon an emergency. In such a situation, they need to be well informed on fundamental safety rules that could save their lives or that of other people.
“The first thing is to ensure that your child or ward knows your full name, your phone number and full house address. Teach your child not to eat anything given to him by a stranger, but keep it till you arrive. Tell him about the danger involved in climbing fences, wandering out of the compound into the road and worse, voluntarily following a stranger.
“Keep reminding them daily, if need be, that nobody is allowed to touch their bodies and if they are uncomfortable when asked to do something, they should speak up. Let them know that they have a role to play in their own safety. They should know that you are not just their parent, but also their friend, so that they can tell you anything. When they tell you secrets, do not turn around and use it against them. Trust your child, but do not love blindly because children can also play a fast one on parents.
He added that those in senior secondary school and even junior secondary, who had access to smartphones, should not had social media accounts. Although you may ban them from having such accounts till they are 18 years old, they could still go ahead and have them without your knowledge.
“The solution is to let them know that they should not disclose family details online or snap pictures of your residence and cars and upload on the Internet. Explain to them that such acts attract kidnappers and thieves. Develop security acumen for your family and let your child to know the rules that govern the acumen. This could be a pattern of knocking or honking your horn when you are around or when danger is near,” he noted.
The security expert also called on the relevant authorities to include safety education in the curricula for secondary and primary schools so that it would become a part of the pupils’ lives. “This should be in addition to having properly trained security guards and fully functional security apparatus, like the CCTV and metal detectors,” Oshunmakinde said.
On his part, the CEO of A-Z Education Consult, Prince Shinayomi Akintolure, said that school owners, head teachers, principals and educationists that handled early childhood education had a role to play in developing pupils that are safety conscious, who could avoid danger and defend themselves to a reasonable extent.
Akintolure, who is also a school proprietor, said, “The safety of children goes beyond the school walls. Pupils face hazards while in transit from school to home or from point A to B. So, the first thing is to educate the pupils that they should avoid strangers. Even if they are walking on the road and a stranger approaches them for directions, they should ignore him and walk away. The stranger ought to ask the nearest adult, not a child. Teachers should tell their pupils to move in groups as much as possible because there is strength in numbers.
“School administrators should have Federal Road Safety Corps officials educate teachers and pupils on basic safety tips and emergency first aid procedures, so they can help themselves or others in times of danger. Pupils should have a safety club that holds once a week, at least and where the safety measures taught in school are frequently rehearsed.
“Where possible, experts in Kinetics and Health Education should be brought in as often as possible to teach the pupils and the teachers the basic ways to avoid certain domestic accidents, as well as teach them to defend themselves in event of an attack. Some simple tricks can save a child’s life. We never can tell. No knowledge is lost.”
But he said he would not support the introduction of safety education in the school curriculum.
Explaining why, he said, “I do not see the relevance of the subject. The government will have to carry out a pilot phase to test its viability, if they must introduce safety education in the curriculum. They should testrun it, provide teachers trained in the subject and make textbooks available so it can be properly delivered to the children.”