Too often, children in our community witness trauma. Lawrence Police officers see it on a regular basis but, for various reasons including privacy concerns, help is never offered. A commonsense solution is underway in Lawrence to change that.
This week, School Resource Officers are training their patrol colleagues in a program involving LKPD, Lawrence Public Schools, and our county advocacy group, DCCCA. “Handle with Care” helps ensure child well-being is a top priority.
“Handle with Care” provides the school with notification when officers encounter a child at the scene of a traumatic event. The traumatic event could range from a motor vehicle accident to witnessing a violent crime. Police are being trained now to identify children at the scene, find out where they go to school, and send the student’s school a confidential communication which simply says, “Handle with Care” along with the child’s name and grade.
“No other information about the crime is given to school administrators or anyone outside the police department,” says SRO James Browning, “and frankly, the details of the incident are not what’s important. It’s simply important for the experts who see the child every day, to know their student may be a bit out of sorts so they can offer appropriate resources. Meanwhile, we’re still able to protect the child’s privacy and the privacy of the adults involved.”
Identifying these children allows teachers to decide if the child simply needs a little extra time to complete their work, a trusted adult to talk with, or possibly more structured expert care. The teacher may choose to implement trauma sensitive interventions and refer the student to the counselor.
Lawrence Public Schools Superintendent, Anthony Lewis, says, “This is a huge opportunity for us, for our scholars, and our families. When the notice is received at the school, it is on a need-to-know basis. It goes to the teachers working with that child, the counselors, and the school nurse. It does not stay in a child’s permanent record. Ideally, we hope to mitigate the negative impact of trauma.”
Lydia Fuqua, DCCCA Lead Prevention Specialist says, “Handle with Care” can help children succeed in school through a simple system of awareness, giving us the opportunity to connect them with mental health services if they need it. It’s a great example of community resources coming together to serve our most vulnerable neighbors.”
For more information, visit: Handle with Care — Engage Douglas County