More care, less consequences

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 20, 2021

Handle With Care program to help kids who have been through trauma

Impact Prevention is teaming with local law enforcement and schools to help children who have been through a traumatic event.

Called Handle With Care, the program is designed so those that in a school setting are aware the student has recently gone through a distressing event and have them try to be understanding if the child is acting out of sorts.

“Handle With Care is a trauma-informed, multi-agency collaboration where if a first responder is onsite of a traumatic event in Lawrence County, that can be anything from a house fire to a drug overdose to domestic violence to a car incident, and a youth is present, that first responder is trained to get the child’s first and last name and the school district they attend,” explained Eddie Neal, the public relations officer for Impact Prevention.

That information is sent to the Education Service Center, which sends a Handle With Care notice to the school.

The student will not have their privacy invaded at their school.

Neal said the student will not be approached or asked questions, rather “they will be observed and offered care, instead of consequences if there is adverse behavior or if an issue arises at school from that traumatic experience.”

He said all the school workers have had Handle With Care training to better help the student and will offer help if the student wants it.

Neal said he thinks Handle With Care is important because growing up he saw traumatic events here in Lawrence County and students were often embarrassed to share what they had seen or experienced and often the students received consequences rather than care when they acted out.

“Schools need to be more in the daylight of the surrounding issues kids face at home,” Neal said. “This is not a fix-all, it is not the golden ticket, it is just an opportunity where we can offer some care to kids that are, day in and day out, suffering many things that none of us have any idea about.”

Neal said the sheriff’s office, 911 center and the EMS services have been offering great support for the program.
Lawrence County sheriff Jeff Lawless said he thought it was a good program because it helps children that have faced a traumatic event.

“Most kids, when law enforcement shows up to deal with an issue with mom or dad, or to take mom or dad to jail in a domestic violence situation or because someone is intoxicated, they don’t get a real good picture of us,” he said. “This helps us build a rapport with children. And knowing that these children have faced a traumatic event, this gives support to these kids. So far, we have found it to be very beneficial.”

Anyone with questions about Handle With Care, or if you are a first responder in need of training, contact Neal at eddie@impactprevention.org.