Juvenile Firesetter Statistics
- The number of fires set by children is growing. It is a problem that needs the attention of parents, teachers, counselors and community leaders, in cooperation with fire and law enforcement officials.
- Roughly 3 out of every 4 children experiment with fire. The crime of arson has the highest rate of juvenile involvement than any other crime.
- Juveniles account for more than one-half of the arson arrests, with one-third of those children being under the age of 15.
- In a typical year, 300 people are killed and $190 million in property is destroyed in the U.S. due to fires set by children. Many times the children themselves are the victims of these fires, accounting for 85 of every 100 lives lost.
This type of behavior is usually seen in children ages 2 to 7 years old. The child is not able to understand the potential destructive nature of fire, and therefore does not fear it. They want to find out how it feels, how it burns and what it does.
Although curiosity is a normal part of children’s growth and development, parents and other adults who discover that a child is playing with fire should take it very seriously. This type of behavior has to be addressed immediately in order to ensure the safety of the child and family.
This is usually seen in children 5 to 17 years of age. In these instances the child sets a fire in response to a crisis in his or her life such as a divorce, a death, moving to a new area, bullying, etc. Also known as “cry for help” firesetters.
Firesetting behavior can also be due to an emotional or mental disorder. Chronic behaviors such as poor relationships with other children, cruelty to animals and extreme mood changes are a few of the traits revealed that could trigger firesetting. This type of firesetting behavior has to be taken seriously and professional help should be sought.
Teach your child about Fire:
- Fire is a tool used by adults, not a toy.
- Fire is dangerous—it can kill.
- All fires can spread quickly
- Even adults must follow safety rules for fire.
Control your child’s access to fire:
- Keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children; even a 2-year old can operate a lighter.
- Never leave lit stoves, candles or fires unattended.
- Teach children to show you any matches or lighters that they find.
Set a good example:
- Install and maintain smoke alarms.
- Plan and practice fire escape drills in your home.
- Inspect your home for fire hazards.
- Point out to your children the fire safety rules you and others follow.
Have questions about the Juvenile Firesetter Intervention Program?
Youth Firesetter Referral