SOURCE: Brandon School

March 31, 2011 15:00 ET

Juvenile Firesetting Conference, Sponsored by the Brandon School, Highlights Need for Assessment and Treatment Options in Times of Fiscal Stringency

NATICK, MA--(Marketwire - March 31, 2011) - Public safety officials, educators, and medical and mental health professionals are scheduled to convene in Natick Massachusetts on May 12 and 13, 2011 for the country's largest juvenile firesetting conference. Scheduled at a time when reduced state and municipal budgets limit investment in training, resources and prevention are necessary to manage this chronic and highly destructive behavioral epidemic.

In recent media interviews focusing on his memoir, US Senator Scott Brown revealed his childhood struggles with firesetting. Juvenile firesetting can be a factor in violent crime, school fires and bomb incidents, along with catastrophic destruction of life and property as well as forest fires.

"Successful treatment of juvenile firesetting is often impeded by misdiagnosis, due to inconsistent evaluation criteria," says Dr. Timothy Callahan, executive director of the Brandon School. "Another factor working against successfully helping youth, especially those within justice systems, is the perception that kids can 'grow out' of the condition, or worse, do not need therapeutic treatment in order to be remediated," Callahan notes.

Brandon School is a Natick-based residential treatment center for students with significant emotional and behavioral issues. Brandon's approach combines therapy, education, and behavior modification to treat children as young as seven.

At the 5th Northeast Juvenile Firesetting Conference, Brandon and the Massachusetts State Fire Marshall's Office will host over 250 law-enforcement, fire services, state/agency protective services, juvenile justice, medical and mental health professionals. National experts will present strategies, best practices, and new research to improve skills for working with firesetting treatment and related factors, including motivations, self-injury, autism, and cultural differences.

"Across the board cuts in federal, state and municipal budgets are skirting dangerously close to exposing communities to the nightmare of improperly assessed and treated juveniles with firesetting behaviors," says Dr. Robert Stadolnik, President of Firepsych, Inc. and a consultant to Brandon. "Through our annual conference, clinical assessment training programs and 'Matchbook,' Brandon's online journal on firesetting treatment, we are working to change public and professional perceptions regarding firesetting."

For background on juvenile firesetting and the need for increased public awareness, legislative support strategies and professional training and guidance, please visit brandonschool.org or contact Rebecca Porter, Brandon Communications Coordinator at (508) 655-6400 x252.

Brandon School is residential special education facility licensed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and is a 501(c) 3, non-profit corporation.

Contact Information

  • Peter Golden
    The Golden Group
    508-655-5999