Playing with Fire: Children, Adolescents and Firesetting

Hatim A. Omar, MD (Editor)
Division of Adolescent Medicine, KY Children’s Hospital, Department of Pediatrics, Lexington, Kentucky, USA

Carrie Howell Bowling, PhD (Editor)
Lexington Fire Department, Fire Investigation Bureau, Lexington, KY, USA

Joav Merrick, MD, MMedSci, DMSc, (Editor)
Medical Director, Health Services, Division for Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services, Jerusalem, Israel
Division of Adolescent Medicine, KY Children’s Hospital, Department of Pediatrics, Lexington, Kentucky, USA
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Jerusalem, Israel
Division of Pediatrics, Hadassah Hebrew University Medical Centers, Mt Scopus Campus, Jerusalem, Israel
School of Public Health, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Series: Pediatrics, Child and Adolescent Health
BISAC: MED069000

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Volume 10

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Volume 2

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Special issue: Resilience in breaking the cycle of children’s environmental health disparities
Edited by I Leslie Rubin, Robert J Geller, Abby Mutic, Benjamin A Gitterman, Nathan Mutic, Wayne Garfinkel, Claire D Coles, Kurt Martinuzzi, and Joav Merrick

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Rural and urban residents accustomed to seeing fire engines racing with sirens wailing and lights flashing are unaware of the problem of juvenile-set fires. Firesetting behaviors among children and adolescents are serious and have associated with it, serious individual and societal costs. Every year, several thousand children and adolescents aged 14 years and younger in the United States alone are injured or killed. Firesetting, pyromania and arson are topics that have existed in the literature since Sigmund Freud explained firesetting through his psychoanalytic model. Helen Yarnell’s studies during the 1940s and 1950s were the first, however, to focus on the behavior of youth firesetting.

Her study in 1940 found that over 70% of adult incarcerated arsonists and institutionalized pyromaniacs had firesetting histories beginning in their childhood. She also introduced the concept of the ego triad: firesetting, enuresis and cruelty to animals as predictors of violence. The psychoanalytic view of firesetting continued to pervade the juvenile firesetting research through the 1970s. Beginning in the late 1970s and early 1980s, a shift occurred in the study of juvenile firesetting and also in the number of studies being conducted on the topic. Researchers began to analyze juvenile firesetting from multiple perspectives of a child’s life. The social learning and dynamic-behavioral models developed by these researchers gave clinicians a more thorough framework for understanding children who set fires and assessment tools to use in diagnosis and treatment planning. In this book, we discuss recent research on firesetting in childhood and adolescence. (Imprint: Nova)

Introduction

Chapter 1. Children, Adolescents and Firesetting
(Joav Merrick, Carrie Howell Bowling and Hatim A. Omar, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Jerusalem, Israel and others)

Section One: Children, Adolescents and Firesetting

Chapter 2. Self-Reported Juvenile Firesetting
(Carrie Howell Bowling and Hatim A. Omar, Lexington Fire Department, Fire Investigation Bureau, Lexington, Kentucky, USA and others)

Chapter 3. Firesetting and Maltreatment
(Amy L. Burnett and Hatim A. Omar, Division of Adolescent Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, University of Kentucky College of Medicine, Lexington, Kentucky, USA)

Chapter 4. Firesetting, Sexual Abuse and Long-Term Consequences
(Lesley Davidson and Hatim A. Omar, Division of Adolescent Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, USA)

Chapter 5. Firesetting Behavior and Psychiatric Disorders
(Stephanie J. Stockburger and Hatim A. Omar, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Adolescent Medicine, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, USA)

Chapter 6. Youth Firesetting: Assessment and Treatment
(Marlene Belew Huff, Division of Adolescent Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, USA)

Section Two: Acknowledgements

Chapter 7. About the Editors

Chapter 8. About the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Israel

Chapter 9. About the Division of Adolescent Medicine, Kentucky Children’s Hospital at the University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, United States

Chapter 10. About the Book Series “Pediatrics, child and adolescent health”

Section Three: Index

Index

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