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TYPES AND CHARACTERISTICS

OF JUVENILE FIRESETTERS


The following descriptions outline the main Types and Characteristics of Juvenile Firesetters. A juvenile firesetter is any youth who is under the age of 18 years old and who lights fires. The arson types and characteristics listed below are based on our review of the research literature, and represent a summary of the research literature. The research types and characteristics presented are not intended to be exhaustive of all arson types and characteristics.

 


CURIOSITY/ACCIDENTAL FIRESETTERS (Fineman, Dittmann, FEMA, Slavkin)

  • Most common type of fire setter (Fineman, Dittmann, Slavkin)
  • Fire setting can be result of an accident, experimenting and curiosity (Fineman, FEMA, Slavkin)
  • Child expresses feelings of guilt/remorse after the fire setting (FEMA)
  • Typically they do not understand the consequences of their fire play behavior (Fineman, Dittmann, IOSFM, Slavkin)
  • Children tend to be "hands-on" learners who explore their surroundings (IOSFM)
  • Fascinated by matches and/or lighters (IOSFM)
  • Imitates adults who light cigarettes, candles, grills, or fireplaces (IOSFM)
  • These children tend to set fire to objects that are found around the house (IOSFM)
  • Fire could be set in hidden locations such as closets or underneath beds (IOSFM)
  • Parents may have tried to stop fire setting behavior in the past (IOSFM)
  • Child typically attempts to extinguish the fire (FEMA)
  • No history or pattern of fire setting (IOSFM)
  • Normal physical, cognitive, and emotional development (FEMA)
  • Usually aged 5 - 10 years old, occasionally can be older (FEMA, Dittmann)
  • Teenagers who play scientist (Slavkin)