Each year, youth firesetting and fireplay incidents cause millions of dollars in damages, hundreds of injuries and an average of eighty deaths in the United States. Schools are of particular interest as the majority of fires started in education occupancies are a result of an intentional act. Children start fires for a variety of reasons, younger children often engage in fireplay behaviors because they are curious about fire or because they are emulating the behaviors of adults. Adolescents engage in firesetting for a variety of reasons including peer pressure, thrill seeking, criminal intentions or because they are undergoing a crisis. Furthermore, many youth who engage in firesetting behaviors have underlying mental health issues such as fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, substance abuse and autism. These conditions contribute to their firesetting behavior and need to be understood by teachers, public safety officials and youth firesetting intervention specialists to address the underlying reason for the firesetting behavior.
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Berger, J. J. (2020). Understanding Youth Firesetting Behaviors [Masterʼs thesis, Bethel University]. Spark Repository. https://spark.bethel.edu/etd/67