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Book Reviews and Other Media
June 2003

Handbook on Firesetting in Children and Youths

Author Affiliations


Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2003;157(6):604-605. doi:10.1001/archpedi.157.6.604

Based on statistics that are reported in this book, a handbook dedicated to the issue of fire setting is a worthwhile endeavor. Fires are reported to occur every 17 seconds somewhere in the United States, and 10 times a day firefighters arrive on the scene too late to save someone's life. Most of the 1.8 million fires reported to fire departments last year could have been easily prevented with behavioral or structural modifications. Children playing with matches or lighters are reported to have started more than 65 000 fires in 1997. To illustrate the magnitude of the impact of these fires, 284 people died and more than 2000 other people sustained injuries as a result of fires set by children. Further, the fires caused nearly $300 million worth of damage in direct property losses. Based on these data, fire setting is an important issue worldwide, as well as in the United States. Loss of life and damages aside, fire setting can be a red flag for severe emotional problems in children. Yet, a pediatrician may be at a total loss as to how to assess and intervene with a patient who presents with fire setting. Given all this, a handbook on fire setting that describes the magnitude of the problem and various intervention approaches is an extremely valuable endeavor.

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