Mother of missing teens had long search for help for her girls

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- "I feared I would see their body laying on the side of the road," Sheena Gibson, a mother of seven, said about her two daughters who ran away.

She spent months fearing the worst, not sure where her 13- and 15-year-old daughters were or who they were with.

"They are children and do have minds of children," Gibson said.

On November 28, 13-year-old Breanna Gibson and 15-year-old Quintessa Oliver ran away. They roamed the streets until January 15, and it wasn't the first time they took off.

"I need to understand what is it that's so enticing in the streets that makes you want to leave the safety of your home," Gibson said.

Just like they disappeared, the two sisters mysteriously popped up and were taken back home, refusing to reveal the details of their two-month excursion.

Their mom invited WREG in for an interview, hoping the fact the community had rallied around finding the girls might get them to show appreciation. They refused to show their faces.

"I got no comments for no one out here in the world about missing children," Quintessa said.

We asked her why she didn't want to tell anyone where she was for weeks.

"I don't want to talk. That is none of their business," Quintessa replied.

"You are 15 years old?" we asked.

"So. It's still my business," Quintessa said.

"Quintessa!" her mom shouted.

"I am sorry," Quintessa said.

"What I tell you about being respectful. Show these people you have been taught," her mother chided.

The teens' mom says this is how life has been for the last two years.

Gibson, a single mother working the night shift and caring for her other five kids, knew she needed help.

"I have reached out for help and it is like a wall. Well, there is only so much we can do," Gibson said.

She even asked the Department of Human Services to take the girls for a while because she couldn't control them.

"They were like, 'No. If we do that, they may want to take your other kids.' I said well no, my other kids are not the issue. It's these two. I need help," Gibson said. "Instead, I was told I could go to jail for abandonment if they did that."

The Department of Human Services told us they could not discuss their involvement with Gibson's family, but as a rule they do offer counseling and parental assistance to families of children who run away frequently.

Gibson says she never got that. She was back and forth in Juvenile Court , even filing an unruly petition hoping to get her girls counseling. Still nothing.

Even when they ran away in November, Memphis Police didn't issue a city watch alert for 45 days.

This mom wonders why it took years to get help.

Many others in the same situation are searching for answers and where to turn.

Gibson didn't know it, but the Exchange Club's Comprehensive Anger Management Program or CAMP helps parents at a loss with their kids.

"It throws them for a loop because the things they used to do to discipline don't work anymore. The child is wanting more power, more identity, more independence," Camp Director Amy Gallimore said.

She says the weekly one-on-one sessions with teens and their parents focus on the root of problems and ways to communicate issues like hurt, pain, and self-worth.

"It's really a cry out, a way for that child who doesn't know what to do with all those underlying feelings," Gallimore said.

The counseling is open to any family and costs only $20 for everyone in the household.

For a mom hoping to save her own family, it may be the key to getting her kids to listen.

"You have to learn that you have to listen to someone, because everyone is not out for your good," Gibson said.

A counselor from Youth Villages showed up at Gibson's home after the girls returned. Gibson is finally getting some help, after her case got plenty of publicity.

Her situation could be the poster case for the new Parenting Centers the city plans to open. Those centers are supposed to be places where parents can get the help they need before their children become statistics.

As for where Breanna and Quintessa were all this time, they will only say they were staying with a pastor and his wife, but they don't know their names.

Police are still investigating.

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