Youth Firesetters Intervention Program
What is a Youth Firesetter? If a child sets a fire that does not mean that they are a problem child. Children set fires for different reasons, one of which is curiosity. When children repeatedly set intentional fires or they display a firesetting behavior, that’s when it becomes a problem. Our Firesetters Intervention Program addresses these problems through education for both the firesetter and the parents. In some cases counseling is required for the child and his/her family. Education and counseling help children and their families learn skills to change their behavior.
Over the last 15 years 59% of school arsons are committed by Youths. Fire is the number one cause of death in the home for children ages 5-14.
Unintentional fires are usually started by children ages 5-10 years old. The fireplay is usually unsupervised. The child makes a serious attempt to put out the fire or goes for help. Most unintentional fires are started in closets or under beds.
The child intentionally looks for fire starting materials, and ignites dry leaves, paper; specific locations (trash dumpster, school yard and so forth). Most often the firesetting behavior is due to stress, death, divorce, moving, anger, the need for attention, or just for the excitement. Their fascination for starting fires is stronger than their knowledge that what they are doing is wrong.
Arson is the malicious and willful burning of any structure, property, or forest or open land. Older Youths may be charged with arson, especially if they are repeat offenders.
Children from homes of domestic violence, drugs and alcohol, and or neglect are at a greater risk of being firesetters.
- Playing with matches or lighters
- Trying to burn items
- Carrying fire starting materials or having them in their room.
- Talking about fires.
- Asking about how particular materials will burn.
- Their grades begin to suffer.
- There may be a notable personality change.
- They are unable to control their anger.
What can you do to help prevent firesetting?
Say NO to Matches & Lighters in Kids Hands.
- Fireproof your home.
- Remove matches and lighters from their sight and height.
- Teach them early on that “matches and lighters are tools for adults, not toys for kids.”
- Teach them not to touch matches or lighters.
- Teach them to tell you or an adult if they find matches or lighters, and praise them for reporting it an adult.
- Never leave children alone near an open flame.
- Set a good example. Children will mimic your behavior. Take care when lighting pipes, candles, and cigarettes.
- Explain that fire is a tool for grown ups. Children are never to play with matches and lighters.
- Teach them to respect fire just as with other tools.
- For older children, agree that matches and fire can only be used when supervised and in a safe manner.
- Discuss what to do if a fire is started. Explain what can happen should your house catch on fire.
- Always teach and practice home fire safety.