New study focuses on children entering Juvenile Court System

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- At least 60% of children in Shelby County who come in contact with the Juvenile Justice System have a mental disorder.

"We're putting kids into jail instead of putting them into treatment."

That's according to what researchers found during a two-year study in Tennessee which aimed to lower the number of kids in court.

The Mental Health Juvenile Justice Policy Academy Action Network discovered many incarcerated youth are vulnerable.

According to the study, 30% of them have learning disabilities.

Nearly 50% function below their academic grade level, while 70% of children have gone through some sort of traumatic event.

"Today we gathered together people and organizations who work with children and families who need to know these numbers and these issues so that we can put together the plan on how we're going to deal with it," said Dr. Altha Stewart with UTHSC.

Many of the numbers haven't been collected from other parts of Tennessee, but researchers believed findings would be similar to those of Shelby County.