Juvenile Fire Setters

Children & Fire

Playing with fire is an activity that a large number of children participate in for many reasons. The most common reason for children playing with fire is curiosity. To a young child, fire is intriguing, very powerful, and often to accessible. Fire setting may be a child's means to express frustration or anger, to seek revenge, or to call attention to him or herself. Research has shown that the location where the fire is set and the motive for it often varies according to the age of the child. There are three recognized age groups, as follows.

Child Fire Setters

Child fire setters (ages 2 to 6) are often responsible for fires in their homes or in the immediate area. Sometimes the fires are in areas that are hidden and out of sight of their guardian. These are usually curiosity fire setters.

Juvenile Fire Setters

Juvenile fire setters (ages 7 to 13) are often responsible for fires that start in their homes or in the immediate environment. They may also start fires in their educational setting. These fire setting events are usually associated with broken family environment or physical or emotional trauma.

Adolescent Fire Setters

Adolescent fire setters (ages 14 to 16) are often responsible for fire that occur at places other than their homes. They target schools, churches, vacant buildings, fields and vacant lots. These fire setters are often associated with a history of delinquency, disruptive rearing environment, poor social environment and emotional adjustments, peer pressure, and poor academic achievement. They sometimes work in pairs or small groups, with one dominant individual and others as followers. These fires are often set to express their status, anxiety and anger or as a symptom of another problem.

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