NAKHON PATHOM — A 15-year-old is on life support Monday after upperclassmen kicked him into a coma during a SOTUS hazing ritual to receive a class bracelet.
Pisit Kumniw, a Matthayom 3 student at Phra Pathom Wittayalai School, was beaten into a coma by three Matthayom 6 upperclassmen on June 28 in an incident that has left him in a hospital’s ICU ward.
On June 28, Pisit went to his upperclassmen’s dorms to take part in a “rub nong” practice, where junior students receive a bracelet with the school’s insignia and class number from senior students – in exchange for getting kicked three times.
Obviously, Pisit endured more than three kicks. Doctors found wounds all over his body, as well as brain swelling and bruised lungs. During his hospital stay, Pisit went into cardiac arrest three times.
“I’ve visited many hazed students before, even the kid whose arm got ripped off at Maejo University. In previous cases, the kids could still talk or had a hope of waking up. But seeing this case is so painful. We can only wait and hope for a miracle,” Panuwat Songsawatchai, a member of anti-hazing activist group Anti Sotus and a Future Forward Party member, said by phone Monday.
The three upperclassmen, all of them believed to be minors, have yet to turn themselves into the police.
Sirisak eventually gave the class bracelet to a friend to pass on to Pisit in hospital. But Pisit’s family says Pisit will never get to wear it.
“His dad can’t go into the ICU room because he can’t bear it … Please stop these traditions. Respect everyone’s dignity,” Panuwat wrote on his Facebook page Sunday.
Pisit’s sister told the media no one has yet stepped forward to take responsibility for the injuries. She also called upon all other schools with similar hazing tradition to stop the practice immediately.
So far, Phra Pathom Wittayalai School has denied responsibility for Pisit’s state, saying the hazing did not happen on school grounds – an excuse dismissed by Panuwat and Anti Sotus.
“Even if the school says that it’s not involved, it still needs to have measures to prevent [hazing],” Panuwat said.
Hazing according to the creed of SOTUS – Seniority, Order, Tradition, Unity, and Spirit – often involves mentally and physically abusive practices which are now spreading to high schools.
In July 2018, three upperclassmen were charged with grievous bodily harm for kicking a university freshman until his spleen burst. In 2014, Pokai Saengrojrat, a 16-year-old student, died from hazing activities that involved him getting kicked at the beach.
In 2008, a student at Uthenthawai University died after he was reportedly beaten by a group of senior students during a rub nong ritual.
Panuwat’s party, Future Forward, has compared SOTUS to a “Nazi, authoritarian system.”