FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, December 4, 2014

12th Annual New Jersey Juvenile Firesetter Conference Focuses on the Influence of Social Media on Today’s Youth

SAYREVILLE, N.J. - The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) Division of Fire Safety, Kean University and the New Jersey Chapter of International Association of Arson Investigators (IAAI) today gathered for the 12th Annual New Jersey Juvenile Firesetter Intervention Conference, which runs through Friday, December 5th at the Middlesex Fire Academy in Sayreville, Middlesex County.

The conference theme, "2014 Social Media: Spreading Information at the Speed of Fire," takes a look at the latest trends in social media and how they influence today’s youth. This year, the You Tube phenomenon called the "Fire Challenge," featured youth setting themselves on fire and subsequently posting the resulting videos online. This challenge, which spread rapidly through social media, took place throughout the nation, including New Jersey. The aftermath of the "Fire Challenge" was serious burn injuries to a number of young adults.

Attendees also heard from one of the nation’s leading speakers on self-injury, Dr. Wendy Lader. Dr. Lader is co-founder and clinical director of the S.A.F.E. (Self-Abuse Finally Ends) Alternatives® Program as well as CEO of Mending Fences, a residential dual diagnosis program. An internationally recognized expert on the treatment of self-injury, she lectures extensively on the subject and is co-author of the book, Bodily Harm: The Breakthrough Healing Program for Self-Injurers as well as Self Injury: A Manual for School Professionals. She also served as the expert for a training video on Self-Injury for the American Psychological Association. Dr. Lader is co- founder of the Self-Injury Foundation and a founding member of the International Society for the Study of Self-Injury Dr. Lader has been featured on a variety of TV programs such as Dateline NBC, 20/20, ABC World News Tonight, CNN, and Good Morning America.

Other conference sessions focused on the influence of both mainstream media and social media on the problem of juvenile firesetting, identifying understanding juvenile firesetters, and using media tools to address the public following a fire.

"We’ve set our sights on making the broadest appeal this year to both public safety and social welfare interests," said says Conference Coordinator Charles Lavin, New Jersey Division of Fire Safety, Community Risk Reduction Unit leader. "We need to increase the reach to troubled youth and increasingly, social media is key to that task."

The Juvenile Firesetter Unit within the Division of Fire Safety coordinates a statewide effort to establish a Juvenile Firesetter Prevention Program in each of the 21 counties. For more information, please contact Charles Lavin, Juvenile Firesetter Program Manager at 609-633-9722.

The Division of Fire Safety serves as the central fire service agency in the State. The Division is responsible for the development and enforcement of the State Uniform Fire Code, as well as for implementing public education and firefighter training programs.