Teens escaping from state-contracted facility for troubled youth - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Teens escaping from state-contracted facility for troubled youth

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CROSSVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

More than 30 teens in custody of the Department of Children's Services have run away from the same school for troubled boys in Crossville in the past three years, including two for whom there is now an active search.

Jason Crow said he thought when he put his 15-year-old son, Jacob, in DCS custody at the Cumberland Mountain School for Boys, Jacob would be safe.

But three weeks ago, Jacob and another 15-year-old simply walked away from the Crossville facility and haven't been seen since.

"It's unexplainable. It's awful," Jason Crow said.

And Jacob is not alone. The Channel 4 I-Team has confirmed in the past three years, 37 teenagers at the facility have run away, leaving Crossville police to scramble to find them.

"It ties up a lot of our officers' time, having to go out there to run these kids down," said Crossville Police Maj. Terry White.

As for the security at the facility, there really isn't any. There's no fence and no guards, nothing to keep a kid from walking away.

The Upper Cumberland Human Resources Agency runs the school and says it's not a locked-down facility and can only encourage the teens not to runaway.

"I think we just need to sit down and reevaluate who's appointing the kids there, why are they putting them there and we're going to have to find a way to eliminate the runaways," White said.

For Jason Crow, it's twice as frustrating. His older son also ran away from a facility contracted with DCS just a month ago. He was found, but Jacob is still missing.

DCS spokesman Rob Johnson said, in a statement:

"We are doing everything we can to help find this youth. We are working with our provider agency and with law enforcement. Kids don't always make the best decisions, and when they walk away from a group home like this, they expose themselves to a lot of unforeseen dangers. We're very concerned, and we know his family is, too."

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