LAURENS COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) — After experiencing trauma, children often have to continue going to school and try to put the traumatic event behind them.
“There are a lot of children across this county who do not have a loving atmosphere,” said Laurens County Sheriff Don Reynolds.
The Handle with Care Initiative, which is a partnership between the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office and Laurens County School District 55, aims to create a supportive environment for these students.
If a Laurens County deputy sees a child at a crime scene, they will find out where the child goes to school and inform that student’s school resource officer that they have experienced trauma. The school resource officer will then notify the school without providing details about the specific event.
“That’s good data for teachers and administrators to have because we’re able to see if there’s something that’s different about a child’s behavior or their performance on a test,” explained Dr. Ameca Thomas, Superintendent of Laurens County School District 55. “We’re able to tie it back to what they had experienced outside of the school.”
Teachers and staff will then try to work with the student to ensure they are supported. The type of support will depend on each child’s needs.
“It could be time to talk to our school counselors or mental health specialists who are on site as well,” said Thomas. “[It could be] additional time to complete assignments or maybe some time to just get their thoughts together.”
Reynolds explained that many situations can be classified as traumatic for a child, whether it be assault, domestic violence, robbery or even a simple dispute.
“It’s anything that transpired in the presence of that child that they had to see a hostile situation that would make them threatened,” said Reynolds.
No matter the situation, the sheriff’s office and school district said they are committed to supporting each student.
“We just want to make sure that that child is always helped in any way that we can,” said Reynolds.
The initiative will be implemented in all Laurens County School District 55 elementary, middle and high schools.
Reynolds said anyone who is concerned that a child has not received help for a traumatic experience should call the sheriff’s office.