Arson Over Thirty Thousand Structural Term Paper

Length: 8 pages Sources: 10 Subject: Criminal Justice Type: Term Paper Paper: #32175161 Related Topics: Shane, Hate Crimes, Giver, Serial Killers
Excerpt from Term Paper :

(Prins, Fire-Raising)

The increase in juvenile crime related arson is particularly troubling. One theory suggest that undiagnosed and untreated conduct disorder in early childhood may be the progenitors in the creation of an arsonist:

From a diagnostic perspective, firesetting is a strong predictor of the continuation of conduct disorder and, in field trials, was found to be the fourth most discriminating behavior for this diagnosis among 14 diagnostic criteria, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. On clinical measures, psychiatrically referred firesetters have been found to exhibit more pronounced delinquent and hyperactive behaviors more extreme externalizing symptoms (e.g., aggression) associated with conduct disorder, fewer internalizing symptoms and less social skill than their nonfiresetting peers, although some studies have not reported differences in aggression or general psychopathology (Kolko 191)

However, it has been noted that many children who have started fires do not always show any signs of significant disturbance or other emotional trauma. Often they have simply been motivated by curiosity. Several studies have indicated that in crimes involving young children less than twelve years of age, more than sixty percent of these have been found to only have been experimenting with fire (Grolnick, Cole, Laurenitis, and Schwartzman). In light of this information several initiatives have been engaged to correct these early childhood interest in firesetting.

Fire safety education (FSE) and cognitive-behavioral treatment (CBT) are perhaps the most common approaches to intervention with firesetting children and their families (Kolko, 2002a). FSE generally seeks to address the child's experience with, exposure to, and interest in fire, through instruction and practice in safety skills (e.g., Pinsonneault, 2002). In contrast, CBT frequently involves targeting individual forms of behavioral dysfunction and environmental conditions by enhancing prosocial skills and parent -- child relationships (Kolko, Herschell, and Scharf)

Early intervention is certainly one of the keys to prevention. Left untreated, these curious children may develop conduct disorder habits that will lead them to experiment further with the tool of fire.

In adolescence these firesetters have set down behavior patterns that are much more complex to discern no less deconstruct. By this time the adolescent arsonist uses fire as a means to express misdirected anger and boredom leading from a lack of emotional impulse control and receiving the wrong attention when younger in regards to the firesetting activity. In this group different issues, both psychological and even biological, may need to be addressed regarding intervention (Lambie, Mccardle, and Coleman). While debatable, the serial arsonist and his or her anti-social traits may stem from traumatic a childhood:

When we examine youngsters who have been truants or who have been in trouble with the police for thefts or disorderly conduct, we frequently find an intimate relationship between their antisocial or criminal manifestations and their emotional and mental conflicts. We also find this intimate relationship in the neurotic person who commits a crime because of unconscious guilt feelings which make him crave punishment. The criminogenic factors in arson and kleptomania too are undoubtedly allied to the emotional or mental abnormality of the offender, having their roots in the sensation of a thrill, which is sexual in
Once an incendiary fire cause has been established, the follow-up investigation must be initiated to identify the responsible party. In doing so, the investigator seeks to determine whether the insured was the perpetrator or victim. " (Krzeszowski) Investigators of arson not only look for the basic characteristic of a crime, means motive and opportunity, but also for a fourth element involving the victim/suspect, which is anticipation. For instance, if the owner of an office building or other property suddenly decided to remove any personal belongings, important files, cash on the premises, or any household pets just prior to a fire occurring, this may indicate advance knowledge available only the to perpetrator of the crime. This is often an excellent indicator when investigating someone for arson.

Fire is one of the few phenomena that can connote
life, as the giver of warmth and energy, as well as death, in its role of the destroyer of both life and property. As with any potential weapon, it is only as safe as its keepers are sound. The universal fascination with fire may be an area that is not completely explored when dealing with those who use it for destructive, improper and unlawful purposes. (Prins) it may certainly behoove profilers and psychologist to further explore the more elemental aspects of the elemental human relationship with fire when dealing with these particular individuals.

Works Cited

Abrahamsen, David. The Psychology of Crime. New York: Columbia University Press, 1960.

Arson." U.S. Fire Administration. 2007. FEMA. 12 Nov 2007 http://www.usfa.dhs.gov/statistics/arson/.

Grolnick, Wendy S., Robert E. Cole, Loretta Laurenitis, and Paul Schwartzman. "Playing with Fire: a Developmental Assessment of Children's Fire Understanding and Experience." Journal of Clinical Child Psychology 19.2 (1990): 128-135..

Kolko, David J. "Aggression and Psychopathology in Matchplaying and Firesetting Children: a Replication and Extension." Journal of Clinical Child Psychology 20.2 (1991): 191-201.

Kolko, David J., Amy D. Herschell, and Deborah M. Scharf. "Education and Treatment for Boys Who Set Fires: Specificity, Moderators, and Predictors of Recidivism." Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders 14.4 (2006): 227+.

Krzeszowski, Frank E. "Matching Wits with the Arsonist." Security Management July 1989: 26

Lambie, Ian, Shane Mccardle, and Ray Coleman. "Where There's Smoke There's Fire: Firesetting Behaviour in Children and Adolescents." New Zealand Journal of Psychology 31.2 (2002): 73+.

Moorer, Talise D. "Harlem Tenants Say Arson, Violations Plague Buildings." New York Amsterdam News; (2007), 98 p15-30.

Montgomery, Kendal. "After the FIRE." American School Board Journal. 2006,193. 30-32

Peterson, Marilyn B. Applications in Criminal Analysis: A Sourcebook. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1994.

Prins, Herschel. Fire-Raising: Its Motivation…

Sources Used in Documents:

Works Cited

Abrahamsen, David. The Psychology of Crime. New York: Columbia University Press, 1960.

Arson." U.S. Fire Administration. 2007. FEMA. 12 Nov 2007 http://www.usfa.dhs.gov/statistics/arson/.

Grolnick, Wendy S., Robert E. Cole, Loretta Laurenitis, and Paul Schwartzman. "Playing with Fire: a Developmental Assessment of Children's Fire Understanding and Experience." Journal of Clinical Child Psychology 19.2 (1990): 128-135..

Kolko, David J. "Aggression and Psychopathology in Matchplaying and Firesetting Children: a Replication and Extension." Journal of Clinical Child Psychology 20.2 (1991): 191-201.


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