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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 77814 Find in a Library
Title: Profile of the Juvenile Arsonist
Author(s): S Coplan
Corporate Author: University of Washington
Ctr for the Assessment of Delinquent Behavior and Its Prevention
United States of America
Date Published: 1979
Page Count: 35
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Justice/
Rockville, MD 20849
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98105
US Dept of Justice
Grant Number: 77JN990017
Sale Source: National Institute of Justice/
NCJRS paper reproduction
Box 6000, Dept F
Rockville, MD 20849
United States of America
Document: PDF
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Analysis of the 1978 court records of 38 juvenile arsonists and 105 other delinquents from King County in Washington State did not reveal any distinguishing sociodemographic and behavioral differences between the groups.
Abstract: Available data indicate that arson is increasing and that juveniles comprise half of the offenders arrested for this crime. In order to isolate factors which might differentiate the juvenile firesetter, psychological studies which have found behavior problems, family conflicts, alcoholic parents, prior criminal histories, sexual problems, and physical disabilities in firesetters were examined. These studies, however, have methodological weaknesses and fail to consider the effects of labeling, peer pressure, and social environment. Other research on firesetters which suggests that no unique characteristics can be attributed to juvenile arsonists is summarized. A discussion of the limitations on this project covers its sampling techniques and its reliance on referral data instead of convictions. Differences between the arsonists and the randomly selected sample of other delinquents were assessed on the basis of sex, age, parents, number of siblings, location in family constellation, and nature of residence. Other factors considered included family problems, school problems, drug or alcohol abuse, previous crimes commited, mental or physical disabilities, problematic sexual behavior, and firesetting behavior. No meaningful differences between juvenile arsonists and other delinquents were documented, but additional research using in-depth personal interviews could be productive. Statistical tables and 38 footnotes are included.
Index Term(s): Comparative analysis; Juvenile fire setters; Nonbehavioral correlates of crime
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