Perspectives on effectiveness: what works in a juvenile fire awareness and intervention program?

McDonald, Kathryn (2010) Perspectives on effectiveness: what works in a juvenile fire awareness and intervention program? PhD thesis, Victoria University.


Deliberate lighting of fires by juveniles is both a public health concern and a community issue. This collaborative multiagency project aimed to establish best practice guidelines for child and youth firesetter programs in Australia. The study proceeded in two parts. Firstly, the practices and perceived effectiveness of the Victorian Juvenile Fire Awareness and Intervention Program (JFAIP) were investigated and contrasted with other Australian and overseas programs (US, Canada and NZ). Reviewing the literature, extensive interviewing, comparative analysis of approaches and site visits enabled the development of criteria associated with juvenile firesetter programs that were well designed, well implemented, and appeared to provide effective interventions. Secondly, pre and post fire-specific and psychosocial risk factors were investigated with a sample of 29 firesetter boys (7-13 years)referred to the JFAIP using the firesetting risk interview (FRI) and children’s firesetting interview (CFI). Children’s recidivism was also prospectively followed-up for 12 months. Pre and post findings on the FRI suggested that all JFAIP clients benefited from the intervention. From the parent’s perspective, lower fire-specific risk factors were reported after the intervention, but as expected psychosocial risks remained unchanged. From the child’s perspective on the CFI, some fire-specific risk variables had improved. Of the 29 children in the sample, nine participants were dentified as recidivists. Thus a third of the sample, although receiving an intervention, continued to light fires. Recidivist and nonrecidivist children were also compared on FRI and CFI and significant differences were found in both fire-specific and psychosocial risk factors. The study highlighted that high risk and low risk clients participate in fire safety education programs in Australia. Low risk clients benefited from a fire safety intervention emphasising education. Thus, fire safety education programs may be appropriate as a sole intervention with some firesetters under certain conditions. However, about a third of the JFAIP clients were recidivists and would benefit from additional interventions. It is recommended that juvenile firesetting programs follow best practice guidelines.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
Subjects Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Social Sciences and Psychology
Historical > FOR Classification > 1602 Criminology
Keywords firesetting, arson, juvenile firesetters, juvenile fire setter programs, fire safety education programs, juvenile fire awareness and intervention program, fire safety, recidivism, child psychology, juvenile crime, risk factors, firesetting risk interview, FRI, children’s firesetting interview, CFI, Victorian Juvenile Fire Awareness and Intervention Program, JFAIP, Victoria, United States, Canada
Download/View statistics View download statistics for this item

Search Google Scholar

Repository staff login