Signs, Symptoms, Personality of a Juvenile Arsonist.

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Anaheimfan, Nov 6, 2008.

  1. Anaheimfan

    Anaheimfan Blue Collar Boy

    I figured I would post this in the early Childhood section as you would want to nip this in the bud as soon as possible.

    Some youngsters who experiment with fire will do it in places they believe they won't be discovered such as a closet, a basement, an abandoned building, the middle of the bush, a camper trailer, whathaveyou.

    As they get older, they may progress to burning grass and trees but only in certain places, they have to feel safe and know they will not be detected. And as they get bolder, they may progress from that to sheds and garages, and eventually turn to unoccupied houses.

    Gender makes no difference in fire-setting or pyromania. Boys may do it out of boredom, mischief, or anti-social behavior. Girls may due it because they have been physically or sexually abused (this also applies to boys).

    Other reckless behavior is also a trait of fire-setters.

    Fire-setters are known to deal with the stresses of everyday life by setting fires. Everytime they get stressed out, it triggers more fire-setting. This could range from spot fires, to cars, to major structure fires.

    Around here, we had a woman who used fire-setting as a release, it started with a couple spot fires, then it wound up that she torched her two cars and half of her house as a result of the cars. A couple years later, her daughter torched her grandmother's house, the entire basement was gutted.

    An arsonist may be maladjusted socially, He may have low self-esteem or is lacking self-esteem. Sometimes alcohol abuse is a factor. Or maybe the arsonist was abused physically, emotionally, or sexually.

    Some children do start fires because they were dared to, that may be a small spot fire in a garage, a grass fire in a field, or a small piece of paper in a classroom.

    An excuse given by some children for starting fires is "there's nothing better to do", and sometimes, they will start fires maliciously to hurt or inconvenience others.

    If your child loses interest in matches and fire, chances are better, it won't flare up again (No PUN intended). Now, they may either lose interest from lack of tools (of course, with the number of children that carry matches or lighters in school, it may not be too hard for them to get their hands on new ones) or they may simply grow out of it.

    How can I recognize if my child is at risk?

    Children who exhibit any of the following characteristics may be involved in fire play:
    • Keeps matches or lighters but doesn't smoke
    • Smell of sulphur in the child's bedroom
    • Toys or other personal effects that appear melted or singed
    There are other identifying attributes that may or may not identify an at-risk child. These include an inexplicable need for privacy, being a "loner", unusual fascination with fire trucks or fire related events ...
    Why do they (the children) do these things?

    Children who commit arson typically fall into one of X categories:
    • Angry or upset over something or someone
      Children often have difficulty in displaying their true feelings or emotions. In particular, when they are upset with someone who is very close to them, such as a parent, they may not be able to explain exactly what is bothering them. Yet they still need to cry out. Some children deliberately break laws knowing that they will be caught. Fire, because it has been introduced to them from an early age as a major taboo, is an easy method for them to work with.
    • Curiosity
      Odd as it may sound for a grown-up, sometimes children do things just to discover what happens. They have no cruel intentions, they just want to see what happens when a pile of papers burn. In the majority of these situations, the child is certain that they are working in a safe environment and, if anything happens, then it was clearly an accident (in the child's eye).
    • Destructive Some children do destroy things because they want to. They may find some form of perverse pleasure in watching other people's (or even their own) property disappear in a flash of flames.
    This is a section straight out of the TAPP-C Public Information Section.

    What Happens?

    The fire department TAPP-C officer will interview the caregivers/parents, usually at the fire hall or over the phone, to help them determine if the child needs the program. If a child enters the program the following steps will occur:
    • Home visit by the fire department " to assess the fire safety of the child's residence.
    • The caregivers/parents will be offered the opportunity to have the child receive a Tapp-c assessment. This (risk) assessment will give the caregiver information as to the potential for the child to be involved with fireplay or firesetting in the future.
    • The child may be recommended to receive counseling.
    • Three other visits (usually at the fire hall) with the child and caregivers/parents will occur. The child as well as the family is instructed on the dangers of fireplay or firesettng.
    Is there any follow-up? If a child, after the initial four steps is involved in fireplay or firesetting, a single follow-up booster session may occur.

    This is the process which would occur.

    I hope this helps a little bit, if there are any questions, don't hesitate to ask.

    thank you.
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2008
  2. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Thanks for the info, thank you. I'm sure it will be helpful to have in our archives.
  3. Sheila

    Sheila Moderator

    Good information.

    Fire starting can also be a red flag for a couple of the more serious neurological disorders.