Thai student torches school building

A high school student stressed out over pressure to excel burned down part of his prestigious boarding school in what may have been behaviour copying the widespread arson of recent protests in Bangkok, authorities said Monday.
“He has been watching too much news,” police Col. Chetta Sangsrikaew, investigating the fire set over the weekend by a 16-year-old student, said.
Col. Chetta said that television images of rioters setting ablaze buildings in the Thai capital — coupled with stress — could have prompted him to set fire to the Mahidol Wittayanusorn School in Nakhon Pathom province Sunday.
The police has not filed charges, and the student is now under the care of child psychologists, said provincial Gov. Panada Disakul, who interviewed the student after the police caught him. “I’m worried about how he could integrate back to school.” The boy was from northeastern Thailand and was having difficulty adjusting to the more demanding and competitive study environment. He told Panada that he wanted to go home, but that his mother would not let him.
Authorities said the student sneaked into the school late Saturday.
He hid in a nearby building until just past midnight and drenched the ground floor of the school’s seven-floor library with gasoline and set it ablaze, causing some $4 million in damage. The fire, fuelled by the books, quickly spread to the upper floors. Following a military crackdown on anti-government demonstrations on May 19, angry protesters set fire to some 30 buildings in downtown Bangkok.
“I just copied what other adults do,” the Matichon newspaper quoted the teenager as saying. “I want to go home ... The teachers pressure me constantly.”
According to Thai PBS Television, the student’s grades had slipped as his parents put pressure on him to get into a top medical school. Mahidol Wittayanusorn is one of a few specialised science high schools in Thailand.

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