Drawn to the Flame summary

More juveniles are arrested for arson than any other violent crime and over 50% of all arrests for arson involve children under the age of 18 (source: Federal Bureau of Investigation). In spite of this fact, there have previously been very few authoritative books or workshops dealing with assessment of and behavioral interventions with child and adolescent firesetters. As a result, most mental health professionals are unfamiliar with the empirical literature regarding juvenile firesetting and many cling to beliefs that are based more on myth than reality.

This highly instructive practitioner guide summarizes research findings; outlines existing theories, diagnostic classifications, motivational typologies, and family characteristics; describes available assessment tools, models, and protocols; and presents alternatives for treatment including interventions that involve collaboration with fire service professionals and families. The author presents “best practice” standards for those who want to expand their practices  to work with juvenile firesetters and fire prevention programs. Includes two illustrative case studies, numerous references, and additional regional, state, and national resources for further study, training, networking, and skill development.


  • …serves as an important alarm bell to warn and wake us from social and professional slumber. For once, sadly, an author rightly terms a problem as ‘a child and adolescent crisis of tremendous proportions.’ Stadolnik’s book is a wonderful example of the ‘best-practices’ approach… includes recommendations of particular instruments and approaches for assessment and treatment. This is a straightforward, yet sophisticated work worth reading by any psychologist who works with children or adolescents. Robert Stadolnik has done us all a service by drawing us nearer to the flames.
    Massachusetts Psychologist
  • Facts about firesetting are scarce, and this well-written handbook is a welcome addition to the small body of literature on juvenile firesetting behavior. Stadolnik, a strong advocate of appropriate diagnosis, as well as an expert in providing treatment to juvenile firesetters, feels that diagnoses of firesetting and pyromania tend to be based more on myth than on fact. Besides clarifying the magnitude of the problem in terms of both public safety and personal property loss, he gives a clear presentation of its implications for the psychiatric and criminal justice systems. His text, reinforced with current scientific research, provides excellent motivational typologies, assessment tools, and case studies for the professional who treats firesetting youth… provides new and invaluable assistance to mental health, education, and fire science professionals.
    Readings – A Journal of Reviews and Commentary in Mental Health
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