Firesetting is the term used to describe the behavior of children who have begun to use fire in a way that is dangerous or not approved by a parent or caregiver. The term firesetter does not mean that a child has a problem. But it does mean that the child needs additional education about the danger and proper uses of fire. Through education, and in some cases counseling, children can learn the skills to change this dangerous behavior.
When firesetting goes beyond what you are able to deal with, call the Independence Fire Department, which can provide fire safety education for your family. The FIRE SMART program can help children who have been involved with fire. Do not hesitate dealing with this behavior; fire is a devastating and deadly force.
By determining the motivation for the firesetting, we can best determine how to deal with it. Most children fall into the following classifications:
About 70 percent of fire setters are in this group. The child is curious. The opportunity to set fires is there because the child has access to fire tools and is not supervised. He or she decides to “see what fire will do.” He or she typically does not think about or understand the danger of their actions.
These firesetters are usually older, upset about something, and not very good at expressing themselves. They typically light a fire as a way to let grown-ups know they need help. Their firestting is in reaction to a problem.
Usually teenagers, these firesetters light fires for many reasons. Most of the time it is a prank or because of a dare. Sometimes it is to conceal other crimes like vandalism or theft. Most firesetters in this group do not realize they are breaking the law and could go to jail.