Matches and Fire Through The Eyes of A Child

By: Delores Gempel Lekowski


Fires set by children is a problem that isn't going away, in fact, it is increasing at alarming rates. So much so, programs have been put in place all over the world to help understand and remedy this growing and dangerous practice.

Statistics have proven if the child isn't helped early on, they will go on to setting bigger fires or end up in the Juvenile Detention System. Granted, not all children who set fires continue on to bigger things. Younger children set fires because of curiosity and they view fire as something that doesn't cause pain or damage. Older children use fire as a way to achieve power and acceptance. These are the children who we desperately need to help. We cannot ignore these children's cry for help.

I would like to focus on the younger, first time, fire setters and what may have played a role in why they started a fire or played with matches. It is important for us to visualize fire through the eyes of a child. Children view fire and matches as a nice thing, friendly fire, if you will. In their world they see matches being used to start friendly fires all the time. These fires bring nice things and comfort into their world. Their mothers light a candle with a match and a fire is started bringing a nice scent into the room. Their father uses a match to light a fireplace on a cold winter's night, and the room takes on a warm cozy feeling with the sounds of wood crackling. Maybe a violent storm, filled with thunder and lightning knocks out the electrical power, matches and fire come to the rescue and a candle is lit and the room is illuminated with light. What about those wonderful camping trips and the bon fire Dad makes so the family can roast marshmallows and sing songs while they enjoy the warmth of the fire on a crisp night. Let's not forget those birthday cakes and the lit candles we make our yearly wishes on.

Fire is a very powerful element and should never be taken lightly, adults know this, children do not, why would they, they see fire as something that is warm and cozy, something that makes them feel safe and fuzzy all over.

While fire and matches do bring us good things, it is imperative that adults make it perfectly clear to children how destructive and dangerous fire can be. It is also very important that children are made aware of how quickly a fire can get out of control, how one match can burn a whole house down, how one match can burn a child or adult almost instantly. We tend to not want to frighten our children with the realities of fire, frightening them is the lesser of the two evils.

Talk to your children. Help them understand the realties of fire, the real realties, because they just don't know, how would they?