When fire is maliciously set, it is called Arson. When arson is committed by juveniles under the age of 18, it is called firesetting. Fresno, California had the highest per capita arson rates in 1994 and 1995, with over seventy percent of these set by juveniles. There are reasons why some children are particularly attracted to fire, and destruction. Also, there are key warning signs to look for in children to prevent this type of all too common devastation. Even more troubling, is what this infantile activity can lead to later in life. II Main Points
A.Juvenile firesetting has become a major problem in the United States. 1. Once viewed by many as a crime perpetrated primarily by adults, fires started by children under the age of 18 are responsible for over 50% of all arson arrests (Snyder, 1999). 2. The impact of the damage created by juvenile firesetting has been documented by various sources. The residential and commercial property loss and damages resulting from juvenile firesetting is $240 million per year (Garrison, 2002) 3. Even more alarming is that burn injuries are the second leading cause of accidental death for children under the age of 6, and between 40-50% of children and adolescents admitted for burn treatment were burned in fires they themselves set (FEMA, 1988). 4. The most startling fact is that children under the age of 5 account for nearly 40% of all fire-related deaths, a rate that is more than double that for any other age group (Hall, 2000). Millions of dollars are spent each year to treat burn victims, and while many are severely disfigured physically, no amount of money can compensate for the emotional and mental trauma experienced. (Garrison, 2002) B. Who are these juvenile offenders?
1. Only within the last 20 years have studies of juvenile firesetting begun to explain the many dynamics and variables associated with this dangerous behavior. These findings have provided a better...