Decreased Juvenile Arson and Firesetting Recidivism after Implementation of a Multidisciplinary Prevention Program

Department of Surgery, Division of Trauma, Burn and Emergency Surgery, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA.
The Journal of trauma (Impact Factor: 2.96). 08/2002; 53(2):260-4; discussion 264-6. DOI: 10.1097/00005373-200208000-00012
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT In 1999, we developed the multidisciplinary Trauma Burn Outreach Prevention Program (TBOPP), which focuses on the medical and societal consequences of firesetting behavior. The basis for this program development was a 17% increase in pediatric burn admissions. The purpose of this study was to determine the value of this trauma burn center prevention program from a financial, clinical, and recidivism perspective.
Juveniles (ages 4-17 years) were enrolled into our 1-day program on the basis of referrals from the county court system, fire departments, schools, and parents. The program's interactive content focuses on the medical, financial, legal, and societal impact of firesetting behavior, with emphasis on individual accountability and responsibility. The court system and fire departments tracked all episodes of firesetting behavior within their respective communities. Arson is defined as behavior with the intent to produce damage, whereas firesetting is defined as having no ill intent. The recidivism rate was determined using fire department and court follow-up records. Follow-up was from 8 months to 2.5 years. A random control group that did not receive TBOPP education (noTBOPP group) with identical entry criteria was used for comparison. Institutional review board approval was obtained.
There were 132 juveniles in the TBOPP group (66 arsonists and 66 firesetters) and 102 juveniles in the noTBOPP group (33 arsonists and 66 firesetters). Fifty-nine TBOPP participants had a medical history of behavioral disorders. Property damage for arson averaged $4,040, with additional court costs of $1,135 per incident. Family environment was an independent predictor for risk of repeat offense. The odds ratio for risk of repeat offense in foster care was 17.9 (p < 0.05) as compared with two-parent homes. The recidivism rate was 1 of 32 (<1%) for the TBOPP group and 37 of 102 (36%) for the noTBOPP group (adjusted odds ratio, 0.02; p < 0.001).
When compared with the noTBOPP group, TBOPP participants had essentially no recidivism. The financial impact of arson behavior was over $6,000 per incident. The implementation of a juvenile firesetting prevention program has demonstrable benefits to the participants and to society.

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    • "However, a weakness of these studies was the lack of control groups. Two studies that found positive effects on fire setting behaviours among participants of educational interventions as compared with control groups are reported by Franklin et al. (2002) and Williams and Jones (1989). Of 132 juveniles attending the 1-day programme evaluated by Franklin et al., only one reoffended during the follow-up period as compared with 37 recidivists in the control group of 102 juveniles. "
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    ABSTRACT: Objectives. Arson is a serious problem that has high costs in both financial and non-financial terms. It is important that effective provision to intervene with arsonists and young fire setters is available.Method. A national survey was conducted of organizations delivering interventions to arsonists and young fire setters. This survey included fire and rescue services, probation areas, youth offending services, forensic mental health units, several government departments, and the National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders. The survey was followed by site visits to eight organizations to conduct interviews with relevant staff.Results. The majority of interventions for children and adolescents were provided by fire and rescue services, often in conjunction with local youth offending services. Some forensic mental health units provided interventions, but no specialist provision for arsonists appeared to be available in either the prison or probation services. The site visits and interviews revealed areas of good practice across the organizations visited, and highlighted areas where developments might be made to improve services.Conclusions. The findings are discussed in light of the available literature, and recommendations made for future practice.
    02/2007; 12(1):101-116. DOI:10.1348/135532505X85927
  • Journal of trauma nursing: the official journal of the Society of Trauma Nurses 01/2009; 16(4):179-81. DOI:10.1097/JTN.0b013e3181d0163a
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    ABSTRACT: Deliberate firesetting is a significant social problem that causes millions of dollars of property damage each year. Of particular concern is that a high proportion of these arson offences are committed by children and adolescents. Youth firesetters are a unique and diverse group, variant in their motivations, needs and behavior and distinct from their adult counterparts. The study of firesetting has been approached in a number of ways and thus the existing body of research lacks a coherent, consistent and comprehensive set of empirical findings. In synthesizing the literature on child and adolescent firesetting, this review considers the potential relationships between firesetting typologies, risk factors, development and treatment. It considers the extent to which firesetting can be considered within the framework of antisocial behavior and what implications such a relationship may have for clinical practice. The review concludes that despite a number of risk factors being repeatedly identified, an understanding of the etiology behind firesetting behavior and potential developmental trajectories remains theoretically rather than empirically based. Existing typological theories do not take sufficient account of the complexities of firesetting behavior and there is not yet a typology and accompanying assessment that has undergone thorough empirical testing and is of significant clinical utility. Despite indications that the relationship between firesetting and antisocial behavior is of a serious nature, there has been a general lack of attention to this in literature and practice. Attention to this relationship is necessary not just in the area of firesetting research and practice, but also amongst those working with youth with behavioral difficulties and conduct problems, as for these individuals firesetting is likely to indicate particularly high risk for severity of behavior and future offending. Because of this relationship and the diversity of firesetting populations there is a need for collaborative intervention for firesetters that includes thorough assessment and provides an individualized, and developmentally appropriate approach best suited to the needs of the individual. This review reflects on the methodological limitations as well as clinical implications of existing studies and suggests necessary directions for future research.
    Clinical psychology review 04/2011; 31(3):307-27. DOI:10.1016/j.cpr.2010.12.010 · 7.18 Impact Factor
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