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Little boys and dangerous toys
  1. Rusty Foerger, Coordinator
  1. Child Firesetters Project, Emergency Response Department, Public Safety and Education Branch, #301, 12220 Stony Plain Road, Edmonton, Alberta T5N 3Y4, Canada

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    Editor,—I am a regular reader of Injury Prevention and enjoy the amusing pieces used as page fillers. I recently came across a poem in an old poetry book I had used in my junior high school days and thought that readers might be interested.

    George, written by Hilaire Belloc*, tells the tale of George who was given “an immense baloon” by his grandmother, “but when it came, it got into the candle flame, and being of a dangerous sort exploded with a loud report”. The poem goes onto describe the ensuing mayhem and has the moral that “little boys should not be given dangerous toys”.

    I have a particular interest in the poem as I am a fire inspector who coordinates a child firesetter intervention program. Unwittingly or otherwise the grandson is the most identifiable “culprit”, but the grandmother (adult) is the focus for the moral.

    It is not uncommon for grandchildren to use their grandparents' lighters (regardless of who is visitng whom)—especially if the child has not had such free access to them before. A recent incident here in Edmonton involving a 3 year old grandchild using his grandmother's lighter to ignite a $70 000 fire makes this point poignantly.

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    Footnotes

    • * Belloc (1870–1953) was born in France but became a naturalised British subject and was a poet, historian, and essayist.

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