Graham Martin, Director Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (Correspondence); Helen A. Bergen, Senior Research Assistant; Angela S. Richardson, Research Assistant
Correlates of firesetting in a community sample of young adolescents
Article first published online: 12 FEB 2004
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry
Volume 38, Issue 3, pages 148–154, March 2004
How to Cite
Martin, G., Bergen, H. A., Richardson, A. S., Roeger, L. and Allison, S. (2004), Correlates of firesetting in a community sample of young adolescents. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 38: 148–154. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1614.2004.01318.x
The University of Queensland, Mental Health Centre, K floor, Royal Brisbane Hospital, Herston, Queensland 4029, Australia. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Leigh Roeger, Research Manager
Southern Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, Flinders Medical Centre, Adelaide, South Australia
Stephen Allison, Lecturer
Flinders University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia
- Issue published online: 12 FEB 2004
- Article first published online: 12 FEB 2004
- Received 11 April 2003; revised 1 August 2003; accepted 3 August 2003.
- antisocial behaviour;
Objective: To investigate relationships between firesetting, antisocial behaviour, individual, family and parenting factors in a large community sample of adolescents.
Method: A cross-sectional study of students (n = 2596) aged 13 years on average, from 27 schools in South Australia with a questionnaire on firesetting, antisocial behaviour (adapted 21-item Self Report Delinquency Scale), risk-taking, drug use, suicidality, physical and sexual abuse, depressive symptomatology, hopelessness, anxiety, locus of control, self-esteem, family functioning (McMaster Family Assessment Device) and parenting style (Influential Relationships Questionnaire). Data analysis included χ2, anova and logistic regression.
Results: Large significant differences are found between firesetters and non-firesetters on all measures. Among adolescents with serious levels of antisocial behaviour (7+ acts included in diagnostic guidelines for DSM-IV conduct disorder), firesetters differ from non-firesetters in reporting more extreme antisocial behaviour (10+ acts), extreme drug use, suicidal behaviour, and perceived failure at school. Gender differences are apparent. A study limitation is the single item assessment of firesetting.
Conclusions: Self-report firesetting is strongly associated with extreme antisocial behaviour in young community adolescents, in support of existing evidence from incarcerated delinquent and psychiatric populations. Early detection of community firesetters demands further assessment and intervention. Clinicians should consider its coexistence with serious drug use and high risk-taking (especially in girls), and suicidality, sexual and physical abuse (in boys).