I must admit, I am a tad skeptical about the potential efficacy of a program highlighted in the local daily, “Buncombe Agencies Work to Stop Arson by Youths.” Buncombe County’s Deputy Fire Marshal Terry Gentry says more than education is needed.

Enter Firesafe Together, a new multiagency program in Buncombe County that works with referrals from schools, the community, law enforcement agencies, Buncombe fire departments, the Department of Juvenile Justice, and social services agencies to first educate, and then treat, youths up to age 18 who are at risk of setting fires or have already been involved in one.

The programs identify “fire-prone youths,” granting there are at least four different personality types on a spectrum. Breena Williams, administrator of Firesafe, observes:

Every kid is different. That’s why we do an evaluation.

I shouldn’t criticize without proposing an alternative, and so this is what we did when I was a kid. My mother didn’t let me play with matches. We had to be home after school. If children played, they played under the supervision of an adult, and everybody was home by dark. We had bedtimes back then. So, the first step is to encourage people who want children to consider rearing them in a traditional family.

Now, there will be little squirts who will steal matches and gasoline and sneak out through an upstairs window after dark. For them, I’m not sure touchy-feely from a safety life counselor is going to present an enticing alternative to the thrill of defiant destruction.