Thursday, November 19, 2009

Child firebugs 'often become adult crims'

Children who like setting fires are more likely to go on to commit serious crimes as adults, a study has found. Up to 200 young people identified as having worrying fire-related behaviours - and who subsequently went through a special education programme for fire setters - were looked at for the study.

Carried out by the New Zealand Fire Service over 10 years, the study showed that 2 per cent of the group went on to commit arsons in the years after being a part of the programme in 1999. Just over half of the group - 55 per cent - went on to commit other crimes which included serious assaults, intimidation threats, disorder, drugs offences, burglary and the more serious crimes including sexual attacks.

Clinical psychologist and lead researcher Dr Ian Lambie said the study made it clear that many fire setters were at high risk of committing crimes in the future. "It might be that some young people also grow out of fire setting and replace it with another criminal behaviour - or it could be a combination of the two," Dr Lambie said. "We need to do more research to find out.

  • "An Outcome Evaluation of New Zealand Fire Service Fire Awareness and Intervention Programme”, University of Auckland, October 2009.
  • "Sparking up an Old Flame: A Process Evaluation of the Fire Awareness and Intervention Programme (FAIP) in New Zealand. University of Auckland, September 2008.



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I am a law enforcement professional with over 35 years experience in both sworn and civilian positions. I have service in 3 different countries in both the northern and southern hemispheres.

My principal areas of expertise are: (1) Intelligence, (2) Training and Development, (3) Knowledge Management, and (4) Administration/Supervision.

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