Boy lights classroom on fire in response to teasing

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Boy lights classroom on fire in response to teasing

A 10-year-old elementary school boy who allegedly was teased by his classmates set his classroom on fire in a fit of anger.

The Incheon Nambu Police Precinct said that the boy lit a cardboard box with a lighter he had picked up on the street on his way to school at 7:10 a.m. on Friday and set fire to the classroom.

About 29 million won ($24,766) worth of school property was damaged in the fire, including a television, an air-conditioner, desks and chairs. Firefighters extinguished the flames after 30 minutes. The boy was arrested by the police on Monday.

“I called 119 (the Korean equivalent of 911) as soon as I saw black smoke coming out of the school,” a witness told the JoongAng Ilbo.

The police found CCTV footage of a boy entering the school minutes before the smoke began and also secured his lighter as evidence.

“They [classmates] were calling me ‘fatso’ and ‘dirty jerk,’” the boy said during questioning at the police station.

“I burned the school because I didn’t want to go there.” The police have not confirmed the bullying.

During questioning, the boy also complained of poor home surroundings, saying he was emotionally hurt after seeing his divorced parents arguing over him.

His parents divorced when he was two, and he has been living with his grandmother and aunt since then.

Days after the boy burned the classroom, the school assigned a counselor to stabilize him mentally.

“I want to live with my mom,” the boy said during counseling. “I want to transfer to another school.”

“We suggested the boy’s parents speak with the boy’s counselor to find out his problems,” the principal of the school told the JoongAng Ilbo.

By Chung Ki-hwan, Choi Mo-ran [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]

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