The “Handle With Care” is an initiative with a mission of helping children achieve academic success even those that have experienced trauma. It is a simple way of showing kindness and understanding towards children dealing with a traumatic experience, leading to positive impacts in the classroom and in the community. A simple alert from the law enforcement or Child Protective Services to the school system can make all the difference. The trajectory of a child’s life can be altered by the way the adults respond to the child experiencing trauma, especially in the school system.
When trained first responders and law enforcement officers identify a child at the scene of a traumatic event, they notify the school system with a confidential message that simply says, “Handle (Child’s Name) with Care” before the school bell rings the next day. The message does not include any details of the traumatic experience to protect the privacy of the child and family.
Receiving the message before the school bell rings the next day allows the school leaders and mental health facilitators to provide trauma-sensitive support immediately! Henry County School System will forward the notices to the school principals, guidance counselors/social workers, School Resource Officers (SROs), and teachers on a need-to-know basis.
Children experiencing trauma show an array of reactions as their coping mechanism (behavior issues in school, dropping grades, truancy, criminal behavior or violence, drugs/alcohol, and younger children complaining about stomach or headaches). Research shows that trauma can undermine brain development, a child’s ability to learn, form relationships, and function appropriately in the classroom. However, positive interactions and experiences can buffer those bad experiences and foster healthy development – this allowing children to achieve academic success and thrive!