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Prosecutors Considering Charges for Teen

INDEPENDENCE, IA (AP) -- Prosecutors are considering their options against a 14-year-old girl accused of using a cord to choke a staff member at Four Oaks, a facility on the state's Mental Health Institute campus in Independence.
   According to reports, the girl was arrested May 29 and is charged with several felonies, including attempted murder. Buchanan County prosecutor Michael Hudson says the juvenile system has the case so far, but it could be moved to the adult level.
   Court records say the girl has a history of aggressive behavior toward others. The girl has been diagnosed with disruptive mood dysregulation, conduct disorder and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.
   The Association Press generally doesn't name juveniles accused of crimes.

In response to the attack, Four Oaks has released a statement. It reads:

"We stand by our staff and do our best to protect them in situations that escalate, as this one did.  Our staff know that the children we work with, specifically those with high-risk mental health issues, continue to be a challenge.  We have been working with two national trauma-informed care experts for the past couple of years, and they regularly train and review critical incidents with us regarding children in care.

The staff who were injured are recovering.  One required a check at the emergency room and the other did not require medical treatment.


While the Buchanan County Attorney is carefully considering how to charge this young woman, we need to keep in mind that this is a complex issue and criminalizing a child with mental health problems will not result in individual improvement, productivity and a successful return to the community.   

Since January of 2011, Four Oaks has admitted many "exception to policy," high-risk mental health children that would previously been sent out of state for treatment because of their complicated cases.  Four Oaks' commitment to consistent staff training, better client-staff ratios and funding to do this difficult work has produced excellent outcomes for many children who had no other options left."

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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