The Future Arsonist
Fire usually captivates children. It is normal for most kids at about age five to be curious about fire, or even start small fires. However, there are children who take this to the next level. The roots of a serial arsonist can be traced to childhood. The hallmark of a future arsonist is an adolescent with a conduct disorder. Behaviors associated with a conduct disorder include aggression, cruelty to people and animals, destruction of property, deceitfulness, theft, and disregard of parental or school rules. Youths with conduct disorders persistently violate the rights of others. When an adolescent with a conduct disorder starts a fire it will typically be with the intention of causing serious damage and perhaps endangering life. The budding arsonist is most often male and is impulsive.
Red Flags for Parents, Guardians and Educators.
- Children who start playing with matches or fire as early as age three
- Children who frequently engage in "daredevil" behavior, especially near fire
- Children who mix chemicals or engage in "secret" fire settings in which they try different mixtures
- Those who are noticeably excited while watching fires