The mission of the Knox County Juvenile Firesetter Intervention Program is to provide education and counseling intervention to youth and their families who have experienced the devastating effects of juvenile fire play.
Children have a natural curiosity about fire, and that curiosity will often lead to experimentation with fire. Children set about 35 percent of the incendiary fires investigated by the Knox County Fire Investigation Unit. The property loss from these fires is significant; however, the potential for injury and loss of life is a serious and frightening threat.
The National Fire Protection Association estimates that more than 45 percent of all children between the ages of five and seven have played with matches and lighters. Most of the fires started by children in this age group are set out of curiosity. Intervention at the curiosity stage of fire setting can teach the proper and safe use of fire and help prevent destructive tendencies that could develop into acts of delinquency and violence.
The Knox County Juvenile Fire Intervention Program is an educational program that can be adapted to the individual needs of each child. The program is designed to work in cooperation with the Juvenile Court system and the various counseling and mental health agencies in Knox County.
Children participating in the Knox County Juvenile Firesetter Intervention Program range in age from 20 months old to teenagers. Their firesetter behavior is just as varied as their ages.
Toddlers often try to imitate adults. This coupled with the availability of matches and lighters can lead even a toddler to start a potentially dangerous fire. Unfortunately even curious toddlers often sense that what they are doing is wrong and try to hide their fire play behavior. At this stage, both parents and child can benefit from intervention. Curiosity about fire is natural, but it needs to be channeled in a positive and constructive direction.
The problem firesetter can range from preschool age children to teenagers. He or she may show an obsessive interest in fire and usually has set more than one fire. Poor self-image, problems at school, and / or an unstable home situation are some of the difficulties that a problem firesetter may encounter. The firesetting incidents are sometimes cries for help. Intervention can be successful at this stage, but there may also be a need for professional counseling.
The delinquent firesetter usually has a history of academic and social problems. A poor self image and peer pressure can be factors at this stage. Problems with these children often go beyond firesetting to other acts of vandalism. There is a high rate of recidivism among delinquent firesetters.
A severely disturbed firesetter can be of any age and has a variety of problems. Because of the complicated behavior patterns of this type of juvenile firesetter, the treatment process is best handled through the juvenile court system or mental health counselors.
Fortunately, most juvenile firesetters can be treated successfully with education and counseling. The goal of the Knox County Firesetter Intervention Program is to teach fire safe Behavior to all children and their parents.
If you reside in the county and would like to refer your child to participate in this program, please complete the referral form on the next page and fax to 215-4669. You may also make a referral by phone. To make a referral by phone or if you would like to request additional information, please contact the Public Fire Education at 215-4660Intervention Program Referral Form