GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – The Greenville County Sheriff’s Office has a new program to help children, of all ages, through traumatic events.
Their new pilot program, Handle with Care, is geared towards helping children get the help and resources they need when they experience traumatic events.
It’s a tool for both law enforcement and school districts to help kids stay on the right track.
Traumatic events happen every day and children aren’t always shielded from them.
“Unfortunately, children are exposed to a lot of these incidents, quite frequently,” said Lieutenant Ryan Flood with the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office.
“Often times there’s a correlation between student behavior in school and what goes on in the homes,” said Dr. George Ward.
The Handle with Care program is in its early stages, but it is a way law enforcement can communicate with schools with the goal being for school staff to monitor children going through trauma and intervene, if needed.
“That could be any type of incident, whether the child was exposed to some sort of drug trafficking, or some sort of exposure to drugs, or they could be involved in a violent crime,” said Lieutenant Flood.
Flood said deputies respond to a lot of traumatic scenes where children have been exposed.
“Then, the next day these children are going to school,” he said.
Here’s how the program works:
- Deputies will fill out a form saying a child has been exposed to a traumatic event
- The form will be forwarded to the School Enforcement Unit
- The Enforcement Unit will reach out to the student’s school or daycare
“So they know that they can handle that child with a care,” said Lieutenant Flood. “Again, this is just a way that we can try and get out in front to perhaps steer them in the right direction if they start to vary off on the wrong path.
The sheriff’s office is partnering with the Greenville County School District, private schools, and daycare centers.
“When kids come in and they may act out in school. Often times, we’re reactive in finding out on the back end that this student may have had a traumatic experience at home,” said Dr. George Ward with Greenville County Schools. “The day before, the night before or the weekend before.”
Dr. Ward said this program will help teachers and staff be responsive to any change in the child’s behavior.
“Be proactive in addressing the students’ needs when they enter the building, so that they can feel safe,” he said.
For any student struggling with trauma, Dr. Ward said they have school guidance counselors available, as well as mental health counselors and social workers.
Lieutenant Flood said this requires no extra resources from their department and that it’s simply relaying the information they already have to give children extra help and support.