Getting a forensic psychology degree means that you are likely going to be working with adult criminals in most instances. However, there will likely come a time when you have to work with child criminals. The types of crimes that children can commit vary, and they can be as senseless and brutal as those committed by adults are. One of the crimes that you might have to investigate could be arson. Different things can cause a child to start a fire. In some cases, it could be an accident, or a peer may have dared the child to start the fire. Sometimes, fire starting an early age may be an indicator of more serious crimes to come.


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Children who keep matches or lighters and who don’t smoke may be starting fires, but that’s certainly not enough to make a psychologist believe the child is an arsonist. Some of the other things that could indicate fire starting tendencies include the smell of sulfur coming from the child’s room and items in the room or around the house that appear melted or that have scorch marks. Items outside the home and in the yard can be an indicator as well.

Children that do commit arson are often angry about something, or they are feeling angry toward someone. Other children may have a destructive nature and starting fires could be an extension of that. These are just some of the things that may indicate that a juvenile has a fascination with fire and may start setting larger fires in the future. It will take someone who has a forensic psychology degree to be able to interview the child and learn more though. If you are interested in criminal behavior surrounding juveniles, then becoming a forensic psychologist and working in this area of law enforcement could be a good option.

Additional Resource Links:

Psychology of Child Firesetting – Detection and Intervention


Juvenile Firesetter Intervention Program

Children and Fire

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