Children who misuse fire pose a substantial threat to the health and safety of every community throughout the United States. Yet among behavioral health care providers, awareness of the scope of the problem, strategies for assessment, and the most effective interventions are scarce. From 30 to 40 percent of children seen in outpatient behavioral health settings report starting fires or misusing matches or lighters. Among inpatient children, fire-starting is nearly twice as prevalent. FBI statistics indicate that child-set fires are responsible for two out of five child deaths by fire. Over the past two decades, from 275 to 400 people a year have died in the United States in a fire set by a child. The majority of arson charges in this country are made against children and adolescents. The problem spans childhood to adolescence. Even preschoolers as young as age 3 have set fires with the intention to harm others. This workshop will review risk factors and the dominant assessment and treatment approaches for juvenile firesetting. We will focus on the use of fire-specific screening measures in the context of child and family interviews, as well as a discussion of how clinicians can work collaboratively with fire safety educators to provide concurrent assessment and brief intervention. Emerging data suggest that brief, community-based, collaborative intervention models may hold promise for diminishing the risks associated with repeat juvenile firesetting.

Learning Objectives

At the conclusion of this session, participants should be able to:

  1. Describe the risk factors and ecological model of juvenile firesetting.
  2.  Illustrate screening and assessment techniques for interviewing children about fire behavior.
  3.  Identify the dominant treatment approaches for juvenile firesetting and how to work collaboratively with fire safety educators.

    Registration and details: