The arrests of three teenagers accused of setting fires on the East Side should serve as a wakeup call for parents, teachers and other community members.
Youths who set fires are three times more likely to be arrested for a violent crime, says a study in the July 2004 edition of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
Planned, persistent fire-setting also has been linked with cruelty to animals and other indicators of poor impulse control. Children from homes where there is domestic violence, neglect, drugs and alcohol abuse are at greater risk of being fire-setters.
But when a youngster starts even seemingly innocuous fires, responsible adults must take notice and get help for the fire-setter, lest this behavior morph into violent crimes in the years ahead.