Educator's Guide

Using the Sean's Story Toolkit: Educator's Guide

Throughout the toolkit, "youth fire misuse" will be used to describe any behavior involving the improper or unapproved use of fire. While "Sean's Story" depicts a school arson incident, the video can be used to facilitate discussion regarding the numerous consequences that occur when youth misuse fire.

This video may be appropriate for youth 8 - 10 years and older, depending upon: a state's age of culpability, each individual situation, and a child's developmental level (i.e. ability to understand the content). Before using this toolkit, instructors are encouraged to obtain training in youth education and firesetting intervention and/or partner with someone trained in these fields.

Refer to the Educator's Guide for example discussion questions. It is best practice to use open-ended questions (avoid ones with yes/no answers) to stimulate interactive discussion between educators, youth, and parents/caregivers. The example discussion questions listed in the Educator's Guide are not in a fixed order. Select ones appropriate for your audience and program length. Listen closely to audience responses to assess participant understanding. Clarify misconceptions or thinking errors youth or parents may express. Use your professional experience to add case examples and expand discussion questions.

Major themes and key points to reinforce throughout discussion include:

Youth have individual responsibility and accountability for their behavior. Foster development of skills in good decision-making, effective problem-solving, impulse control, and social interactions.

Discuss the short- and long-term legal, social, and financial consequences of fire misuse in simple age-appropriate language. Use a supportive, positive approach as the use of "scare tactics" is ineffective, does not teach a child about the correct uses of fire, and may be potentially harmful.

Recognize the positive and negative influences of media, social media, and peer-pressure. Help youth make specific plans to recognize and overcome sources of negative influences on their decision-making.

Identify motives, social/environmental/parental/familial factors, and/or mental health conditions potentially contributing to a youth's fire misuse behavior. To provide comprehensive intervention, locate local community resources for youth/families to receive needed assistance and services.

Praise youth for showing respect and responsible behavior towards fire. Encourage parents/caregivers to set a good example by role modeling safe and careful use of matches, lighters, and other fire sources (i.e. never misuse fire as a source of amusement as youth will imitate the behavior they observe).

If you have suggestions for additional discussion questions, please email Karla Klas, BSN, RN, CCRP at

Now available: An editable version of the Educator's Guide is now available. To add your logo, click on the above link and download the .pdf form to your computer. You can then use Adobe Acrobat to click on the white-dotted box in the handout banner and import your logo.