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Three quarters of deliberately lit fires in New Zealand are caused by young people, with official figures showing that of all serious offences committed by children and adolescents, arson is the most common.

Some of the behaviour is put down to a child's natural curiosity about fire, or simply being mischievous.

But emerging research suggests that arson attacks by young people can indicate a link to other, more serious offending.

Sue Ingram investigates

Two youngsters stare at a small fire lit from a bundle of paper

Photo: Young people are often fascinated by fire