The Tennessee Department of Children's Services has seen a sharp spike in violence involving children and youths housed in its juvenile detention system in just the past three months, reports The Tennessean. Over July, August, and September, there were 102 youth-on-youth or youth-on-staff assaults that involved teachers, staff and guards at Woodland Hills Youth Development Center in Nashville, a facility for 125 boys and young men ages 13 to 19.
At the Mountain View Youth Development Center in Jefferson County, where 105 boys and young men live, there were 67 reported assaults in the same period. And at Wilder Youth Development Center in Fayette County, which houses 139 boys and young men, the assault total for three months reached 90. The rash of assaults follows a controversial decision by Commissioner Kate O'Day to shut down two state detention centers as a cost-saving measure. Those two facilities had been where the agency sent some of its most violent and troubled youths. Those youths have been transferred to four remaining facilities. “This was our worst fear,” said Rep. Cameron Sexton, who helped lead an unsuccessful effort to keep the centers open.