Domains of risk in the developmental continuity of Fire Setting.

McCarty, C. A., McMahon, R. J., & Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group. (2005). Domains of risk in the developmental continuity of Fire Setting. Behavior Therapy, 36(2), 185-195.


Abstract: Juvenile fire setting is a serious, dangerous, and costly behavior. The majority of research examining youth fire setting has been cross-sectional. We sought to examine early risk attributes that could differentiate fire setters from non-fire setters, in addition to examining their association with the developmental continuity of fire-setting behavior into late childhood. Using a sample of 361 youth drawn from 4 different U.S. communities, this study examined the association between a broad array of risk variables from the child, parent, and family domains, and fire-setting behavior over the course of 2 developmental periods: prior to 4th grade, and between 4th and 6th grade. Youth were classified into I of 4 groups (non-fire setters, desisters, later-onset fire setters, and persisters) based on their reported fire-setting behavior during these periods. Children who set fires had higher levels of risk on most of the variables assessed. Persistence of fire setting was associated with elevated parental depressive symptoms and more interparental conflict and ineffective discipline. The findings highlight the need for multi-component preventive interventions to address the breadth of risk experienced by fire-setting youth and their families.