Mid-South parents have resources to help children displaying dis - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Mid-South parents have resources to help children displaying disturbing behavior

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MEMPHIS, TN - (WMC-TV) – "I love my son, but he terrifies me." They are words from a blog read around the world following the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary echoed by a Memphis mom who says without local intervention in her son's life, we'd all be at risk. 

Mental health has been a hot topic since the Newtown, Connecticut shootings, with more and more parents coming forward to say their children need help.

Viola Hudson knows other Mid-South moms can relate to her story.

"I cried a lot because I didn't know which way to go," Hudson said.

A mother of four, Hudson says her youngest son, Edward, began exhibiting disturbing behavior at a very young age.

"I'd say when he was six. When he was six and I really didn't notice, she said.

By age 12, Edward was diagnosed with ADHD and prescribed medication; pills, Hudson says, he refused to take.

"So he went to setting fire bombs in the house. I said what am I going to do? You know I used to hide knives, forks. Anything sharp, I'd put it up. I had to hide it," Hudson said.

Hudson says as her son's behavior became more and more dangerous, he was in and out of juvenile court and suspended multiple times from school.

"That is such a familiar story," said Dr. Altha Stewart.

Dr. Stewart works with Just Care Family Network, a support program for Shelby County families with emotionally and mentally disturbed children ages five to 19.

An increase in gun violence nationwide hits close to home.

"Recognizing mental health problems might have made a difference in the outcome of some of these incidents," Dr. Stewart said.

Between July 2011 and July 2012, the Office of Clinical Services at Shelby County Juvenile Court conducted a staggering 1,266 mental health evaluations on juveniles in the system.

Some of them are ordered into the Just Care Program.

"Most parents desperately seek help," Dr. Steward said. "The system simply is not a welcoming system when it comes to children's mental health."

Dr. Stewart sees Just Care as a safety net in the system.

Support teams help families with problems at school or at home and guide them through the mental health and juvenile justice system.

"Our staff will go wherever the family needs for them to go to be supportive of what that family needs," Dr. Stewart explained.

"The only thing that kept me going and saving his life was by being in this program," said Hudson.

Viola Hudson got the help her son needed. Through Just Care, Edward worked on his inner demons, stayed the course, and graduated high school.

"You know I just grew up angry with the world, with my family, with everybody," Edward Hudson said. "I isolated myself.  I put myself off to the side, didn't want to talk to nobody. Always was sad and down. I have to step out there and be the big man for once in my life and, hopefully, I can do that."

Edward is one of the lucky ones thanks to the unconditional love of this mother and a support system so many Mid-South families may not know exists.

"I birthed my babies and I have to stay there and take care of my babies," Viola Hudson said. "If anything is going on in your house, threats from your children, get some help before it's too late."

Emotional disturbance is treated as a special education disability in Memphis and Shelby County schools, and emotionally disturbed is the term used by the state of Tennessee.

In Mississippi, kids are designated emotionally disabled.

Teachers receive specialized training in every Mid-South school district to work with emotionally disturbed or disabled kids, either in a general classroom setting or at separate locations.

If you need help with your child, you can contact counselors with the Just Care Family Network by clicking the following link: <http://jcfnmemphis.org/>

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