Handle With Care

Trauma Informed Policing

Missing homework and falling asleep in class are common examples of misbehavior but, for some students, they are the first sign that they have experienced significant trauma. Handle With Care helps to distinguish between the two by partnering schools and police officers.

Approach

  • The program begins when a police officer responds to a potentially traumatic incident involving a minor, including arrests and domestic abuse.
  • Afterward, the officer sends the minor’s name, age, and school to a designated contact at the school, excluding any details of the incident to protect the student’s privacy.
  • School employees who interact with the student, including their teachers and guidance counselor, receive the notification: “Handle with Care”.
  • The program may end here for some students, but other students may require additional support. For these instances,
  • Handle With Care offers students the opportunity to speak with mental health professionals in the school’s network, pending their parent’s consent.

Outcomes

  • Handle with Care utilizes trauma-sensitive training to help children succeed academically, developmentally, and socially.
  • The program trains teachers to recognize when children are struggling and prepares school staff to support students through stressful times.
  • For instance, children who fall asleep in class may go to the nurse, and those who struggle on tests may be offered tutoring after class.
  • Trauma-sensitive approaches encourage stable and supportive relationships, ensuring schools remain an environment where kids feel safe.

Precedent

  • Handle With Care has been successfully implemented by states, counties, and cities across the country, including Maryland, Tennessee, and Kentucky.
  • The program has been successfully piloted in Texas, where 13 schools have partnered with 3 police departments across San Antonio.

Cost

There is no budget associated with Handle With Care. The program relies on increased communication and training, which may be completed within a few hours.

An estimated 60% of all children have witnessed violence, crime, or abuse. Each of these events and experiences holds the potential to negatively impact a child, but schools are rarely aware when severe incidents occur. Handle With Care creates this system through notifications, ensuring schools are able to offer the support children need to thrive and succeed.