The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension reports that in 2010, youths from 10 to 17 years of age represented 57 percent of arson arrests in Minnesota. The United States Fire Administration reports that the majority of youth firesetting is done by children younger than 10 years of age.
Children are naturally curious about fire. In fact, children and adults alike find fire fascinating. Fire is part of American culture, from the baby’s birthday candle and the holiday table to the 4th of July fireworks, the cozy fireplace, and the recreational campfire.
Curiosity in children is normal; starting fires is not — nor is it a phase. Most children who start fires are mimicking familiar adult behavior and typically, firesetting is not a sign of “pyromania.” In fact, fire is potentially deadly, and it moves fast. Young children just don’t understand that, and older children overestimate their ability to control a fire. Most people, even adults, don’t fully understand how powerful fire can become.
Research shows that without intervention, youthful firesetting behavior tends to continue. Children who repeatedly start fires need help!