NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A child so aggressive, the parents lock the bedroom door at night to keep him out.
"It's like being in prison," she said. The parents even have an organized safety plan in place.
"Never to be alone in a room with him. He's only 12 and we're afraid of him," the stepmother said.
That's right, he's 12 and already well-known at the Juvenile Justice Center.
His parents have called Metro police to the home nearly 40 times in the past six months for assault.
"They're tired of coming out here," she said. But courts only hold the boy for a couple days.
Several treatment centers won't take the child because of an intermittent explosive disorder. They deem him too violent.
"It's frustrating because we want him well. We want him safe."
She fears her son is destined to commit crimes if he doesn't get help.
While many people are quick to place blame this stepmother says it's not always the parents' fault.
"He didn't grow up without discipline. It's not lack of parenting."
Attorney Jim Todd, a former juvenile prosecutors, says sometimes there is no simple answer.
"It's not the juvenile justices system's job to raise your child," said Todd. On the other hand, he also knows parents need help.
If the state can't or won't, one of the only other options is private treatment but even if you can gain admission it's expensive.
"It's not the state's mandate to treat your child. So, that's something for parents to do privately," said Todd. "Tragically many of them can't."
Unfortunately, this means that many parents are simply left to fend for themselves, fearing for their own safety and their child's future.
"I'm afraid if he doesn't get some help he'll end up in the prison system. He'll end up dead or he's going to kill someone," said the child's stepmother.
In this case, the boy's parents said he was a normal child until he turned 12 years old. They say he's since developed an undiagnosed mental illness and that he sees a therapist three times a week.