REFOCUSING SECONDARY EDUCATION FOR PEACE IN NIGERIA: THE
CHALLENGES OF BULLYING BEHAVIOUR
Atubi O. Favour
Department of Social Science Education
Faculty of Education, Delta State University, Abraka
The study determined the challenges of Bullying Behaviour and Refocusing Peace in
Secondary Schools of Ethiope East local Government Area of Delta State in Nigeria. The
purpose of the study was to determine the extent of bullying among male and female
secondary school students in Nigeria. Two hypotheses guided the study and a sample of 160
junior and secondary school students were used for the study. Researcher self-designed
questionnaire was the instrument used for data collection. Chi-square was the statistical tool
used for data analysis. The findings showed that bullying behaviour is a threat to peaceful
coexistence in secondary schools and also male students have a higher rate of bullying than
female students. Based on these findings, punishment and proper disciplinary measures
against bullying behaviour in Nigerian secondary schools was recommended among others.
Keywords: Refocusing, peace, challenges and bullying behaviour
The imperative of peace in developing our educational institutions especially
secondary schools cannot be overstressed. This is because secondary schools prepare its
products for tertiary education and the world of work (Nwakpa, 2015). The need to teach
students peace education at this formative level of education is important so that they can
imbibe the culture of peace with classmates, schoolmates, friends, family members and their
colleagues at the appropriate time. This culture will eventually lead to peace and tranquillity
in their immediate society and the nation at large. Different methods and strategies should be
adopted by secondary schools administrators to resolve inter personal conflicts among
students as well as managing their anger.
Effiong (2019) urged secondary school students to adopt peace and refrain from
resolving their differences with violet conflicts. Effiong also noted that peace is not just the
absence of disagreement or conflict, but peace is the ability to resolve grievances amicably.
He enumerated causes of disputes in schools to include cultism, personality problems, lack of
guidance and counselling as well as bullying behaviours. To resolve violence and grievances,
Effiong advised secondary school students to report any acts of violence, crime and
harassment to teachers, parents and close friends.
One major attribute of peace in secondary schools is the harmonious state of things
and lack of hostility among and between staff and students. According to Enaigbe and
Igbinoghene, (2016), there is a need to create an environment of peace in secondary schools
and this involves the promotion and management of peaceful attitudes of students, they must
endeavour to live in a caring, peaceful and friendly atmosphere with other students to prevent
negative behaviours such as bullying. The implication of the above, is that bad behaviours
such as bullying, fighting and quarrelling must be avoided. Presently, many secondary
schools students as well as those of higher education level have turned themselves into
bullies, rapists, cultist, ritualists and even ‘yahoo’ boys and have become a menace to schools
and society, this present the secondary schools in bad light.
Mohammed, (2014) reporting Hague of Appeal (2005) is of opinion that “there is
need to create a peace culture and this can only be possible when citizens around the globe
comprehend global issues and have the skills to resolve conflicts” this can only become a
norm when there is gender equality, respect for human right and dignity.
Ogungbe, (2019) maintained that the purpose of secondary education in Nigeria
1. To provide primary school leavers with chance to
further their education to a higher level and quality
irrespectively of sex, religion, ethnic or socio-
2. To diversify the curriculum to cater for the talents
and gifts of primary school leavers.
3. To equip students with skills of science and
4. To develop and project the Nigerian culture and
5. To raise a generation of creative Nigerians that will
respect the views and culture of others.
6. To promote unity in diversity
7. To inspire students to desire educational
accomplishment and self betterment.
Bullying behaviour in our secondary schools play negative roles in achieving these
purposes and in the drive to refocus Nigerian secondary schools for peace. Thus, the effect of
bullying should not be underestimated. The problem of bullying behaviour has been in
existence for ages and have consistently been ignored or considered a normal occurrence
(Owuamanam, 2015). Smith, (2016) defined bullying as a proactive and persistent form of
hostile and abusive behaviour propel by hostile children or adolescences towards their weaker
mates. Smith further explained that bullying behaviour is a premeditated behaviour that harm,
causes distress, humiliate and causes hurt either physically, socially and emotionally. This
behaviour can occur either in or out of school. According to Collins English Dictionary “a
bully often hurt and frightens other people”. The understood Team (n.d) also defined bullying
as a serious and harmful behaviour that occurs persistently and intentionally. Bullies may
shove, tease, curse, fight, hit or exclude other students from school activities. Secondary
school students bully for various reasons, maybe to get another student belonging e.g. “give
me your food”. Sometimes bullies bully to feel strong, powerful and domineering. This
means that bullies always consider themselves stronger than their victims in order to get an
upper hand Chikodi, Igbo, Obiyo, Eskay and Ugwuanyi, (2012) asserted that bullying is
generally an intentional behaviour, they held that it does not occur by accident but pre-
planned by the perpetrator. According to Chikodi, et al bullying can take physical, verbal or
emotional form and it is related to power disequilibrium. From the definitions above, any act
of bullying perpetuated in a secondary school can be referred to as school bullying and does
not allow peace to prevail in a learning environment. Bullying also involves force, it is
continuous, consistent and bullies consider their victims to be weaker.
Understood Team (n.d) identified four types of bullying behaviour that are common in
schools, these are physical bullying e.g. fighting, hitting, pushing and kicking, social bullying
in form of isolation, rumour spreading, verbal bullying e.g. name calling, causing and
shouting at victims and cyber bullying through social network/medias, emails or text
messages. Understood team opined that bullies choose weak and defenceless victims,
students with learning problems, vulnerable students and those with disabilities. Freshers and
students with low self esteem can also be victims.
Smith (2016) demonstrated that boys bully more than girls as girls are mostly
defenders. Boys are also involved in physical bullying more than girls. Girls are mainly
involved in indirect bullying such as social exclusion, cyber and verbal form of bullying.
Smith also explained that victimization is more in primary school between the ages of 7 and 8
years. The age peak of bullying occurs between ages 11 to 14 years but he also discovered
that bullying reduces in the end part of secondary school life.
The prevalence and occurrence of bullying behaviour is generally a threat to peace
and academic freedom in schools and if we have to refocus our secondary schools for peace,
then the challenges of bully behaviour need to be addressed (Atubi, 2016). Bainbridge (2012)
posited that 15-20% of learners in the USA are victims. Bainbridge also noted that this
behaviour normally starts from elementary (primary) school and continues through to
high(secondary) school. In the United States and Canada, bullying is very prevalent, a survey
carried out on 512 American students, discovered that more than 50% of students reported
knowing a bully (Good, Mclintosh and Gietz, 2011). Anti bullying Alliance (2016) did a
research on 13,000 pupils between the ages of 7-15 years crosswise 44 schools in the United
Kingdom and discovered that 1 in 4 student have been victimized more than once, while
disabled children suffered twice the fate of those victims who are not disabled. Also the
alliance reported that males tend to be bullied more than their female counterparts and that
victims recorded poor school attendance, poor social relationship with fellow students and
teachers and also have a generally feeling of being unsafe within and outside the school
environment. Similarly a research carried out by the department of education in the United
States of America, reported that 40% of elementary and high school children experienced
bullying on a daily basis, while 9% of the 40% are victimized on a weekly basis. The study
also reported that physical bullying occurs mostly in schools than in any other place.
Becton (2019), while reporting the Nation Education Association in the US stated that
over 160,000 children refuse to go to school everyday because of fear of victimization and
71% of children agree that bullying is a major threat to school peace, also 87% of surveyed
students in the US are of the opinion that school bullying is the major motivator of shootings
in United States schools. Similarly, Petrosina, Guckenburg, Devoe and Hanson, (2010)
discovered that about 64% of victims fail to report the act.
In Nigeria, there is high prevalence of victimisation among primary and secondary
school students. Parents Teachers Associations (PTA) meetings always, record reports of
bullying behaviour during their meetings (Owuamanam, 2015). A study on bullying in Benin
City reported four out of five participants being victims and 85% of respondents agreed being
a victim at one time or the other (Egbochukwu, 2007). A survey of “bullying traits” as
perceived by schooling adolescents in Nigeria by Chikodi et al (2012) recognised that
bullying traits occurs among Nigeria’s adolescents in secondary schools and that it is mostly
caused by unprovoked aggression, they also discovered that bullies apply the behaviour to
their own advantage. Similarly in a nationwide study on school violence in Nigeria carried
out by the Federal Ministry of Education (2007) reported an upsurge in physical and
psychological bullying of 85% (male) and 50% (female) each. The study also reported that
victimization is more in rural schools than urban schools and that southern schools recorded
90% of victimization as against 70% in Northern schools.
Effects of Bullying Behaviour
Oliveira and Oliveira (2018) substantiated in their research that bullying has a
negative effect on the achievement of students in mathematics. The research also revealed
that students/victims need to develop social and psychological skills to be able to deal with
the behaviour and their study recommended the use of anti-bullying strategies in helping
students to develop coping skills to be able to deal with the behaviour, their study
recommended the use of anti-bullying strategies in helping students to develop coping skills.
In the same manner, Kibriya, Xu and Zhang, (2015) also agreed that bullying affects the
academic performance of secondary school students in Ghana, contrary to other studies such
as those of Smith,(2016),Anti Bulling Alliance(2016) and FME (2007), Kibriya et tal found
out that females are victimized more than males in Ghana but that the presence of a female
class teacher reduces the negative impact of victimization. Oueliet, Odgers, Danese, Bowes,
Shatoors, Papadopoulou and Arseneault (2011) asserted that physical bullying has a lasting
impacts on the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) and this can cause emotional,
psychological and behavioural troubles.
Hemphill, Kotevski, Herrenkoh, Tombourow and Catalano (2011) observed that
victimization by bullies make students avoid school learning, and leads to poor school
attendance. Kosciw, Palmer, Kull and Gretak, (2013), sampled 5,730 LGBT students in high
schools of the United States and victims reported low self esteem that affected their school
grades negatively. Branks, Hoetgen and Hazen (2012) saw victims as weak, ashamed and full
of anxiety. They are shunned and are emotionally disturbed, therefore are likely to have poor
results. Victims of bullying always have negative feeling towards schooling and persistent
bullying can make the victim develop stress and depression, mild or severe psychological
trauma and physical or social isolation. Mcguckin, Cumming and Lewis (2010) opined that
the effects of bullying last for a very long time, long after schooling and may even affect
future relationship and intimacy, it can also lead to potential engagement in anti social and
Bullying behaviour in Nigerian secondary schools are widespread and seriously
underreported. The researcher is interested in unravelling the threat that bullying behaviours
pose to peaceful academic life, and also because of her son’s personal experience as a victim
which almost truncated his secondary school ambition. So many victims have ended up in
hospitals as a result of injuries sustained from bullies, similarly emotional problems and
depression arises due to silence of victims. Even though research on bullying behaviours has
grown over the decades, little or no research to the knowledge of the researcher has been
done on the challenge that bullying behaviour poses to peaceful coexistence of secondary
school students in Nigeria. Thus the problem of this study put in question form is: What are
the challenges of bullying as it affects the peace of secondary schools in Nigeria?
Hypothesis 1: There is no significant effect of bullying behaviour on the peace of secondary
schools in Ethiope East Local Government Area of Delta State.
Hypothesis 2: There is no significant difference in the bullying rate between male and female
students in secondary schools of Ethiope East Local Government Area of
The sample of the study was made up of 160 Junior and Senior secondary school
students drawn from the target population of the twenty-two government owned secondary
schools in Ethiope East Local Government Area of Delta State. Multistage sampling
technique and random sampling was used to have an adequate representation of sex and
school location. Instrument for the study was self-made questionnaire that elicited
information on the threat of bullying to peace in secondary schools and the rate of the
behaviour among male and female students. The validity of the instrument was obtained
through content validity and reliability coefficient of 0.87 was obtained through test – retest
method, signifying the fitness of the instrument. 160 questionnaires were administered on
hand to hand basis to students and same number was retrieved immediately. Hypotheses were
tested with Chi square at 0.05 level of significance.
Ho1: There is no significant effect of bullying behaviour on the peace of secondary schools
in Ethiope East Local Government Area of Delta State.
Table 1: Chi Square results on the effect of bullying behaviour on peace of secondary
schools in Ethiope East Local Government Area of Delta State
Class level SA A D SD TOTAL
Tab. df Decision
Junior 59(47.3) 32(46.1) 7(5.68) 3(1.9) 101
22.058 7.815 3 RejectedSenior 16(27.7) 41(26.9) 2(3.32) 0(1.1) 59
Total 75 73 9 3 160
Source: Fieldwork, (2016)
As shown in table 1,
calculated is 22.058, this is more than the table value of
7.815, degree of freedom of 3 at 0.05 level of significance. Thus the null hypothesis is
rejected. There is significant effect of bullying on the peace of secondary schools in Ethiope
East Local Government Area of Delta State.
Ho2: There is no significant difference in the bullying rate between male and female
students in secondary schools of Ethiope East Local Government Area of Delta State
Table 2: Chi Square results on difference in bullying behaviour among boys and girls of
secondary schools in Ethiope East Local Government Area of Delta State
Sex SA A D SD TOTAL
Male 50(48.3) 23(21.9) 12(9.8) 7(12.1) 92
7.815 6.5135 3 RejectedFemale 34(35.7) 15(16.1) 5(7.2) 14(8.9) 68
Total 84 38 17 21 160
Source: Fieldwork, (2016)
From table 2,
calculated is 7.815 is more than
table value of 6.5135, degree of
freedom of 3 at 0.05 level of significance. This means that null hypothesis is rejected, thus
there is significant difference in bullying behaviour among boys and girls of secondary
schools in Ethiope East Local Government Area of Delta State.
Discussion and Conclusion
The findings of this study showed that there is significant effect of bullying on the
peace of secondary schools in Ethiope East Local Government Area of Delta State. These
findings are in congruence with that of Atubi (2016), Egbochukwu (2007), FME (2007) and
Smith (2016). Who discovered in their various studies that the prevalence of bullying
behaviour in schools within and outside Nigeria is real and it is a threat to the peace of
secondary schools existence as well as making students feel unsafe in school. This findings
tally’s with Branks, Hoetgen and Hazen (2012) that analysed the relationship between
bullying and academic behaviour, their study discovered that bullying causes fear,
intimidation and lack of concentration in school.
The findings of the study also discovered more bullying among male students than
female students, this is in agreement with the studies of Smith (2016),Anti Bullying Alliance
(2016) and FME (2007) which reported high prevalence of bullying behaviour among male
students more than female students.
The study therefore concluded that bullying behaviour is a threat to peace in Nigerian
secondary schools in general and particularly those of Ethiope East Local Government Area
of Delta State. The study thus concluded that the act of bullying is common among the male
students than female students of Nigerian secondary schools.
Based on the conclusions the following recommendations were suggested.
1. Bullying behaviour should be severely punished with proper disciplinary measures as
a way of preventing further act of victimization.
2. Education stakeholders in Nigerian should map at proper measures to prevent
bullying behaviour in our secondary schools as a way of making them peaceful.
3. Male students as well as female students should be counselled through seminars and
workshops on the negative effect of bullying on school peace.
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