School system, county law enforcements, update Handle with Care MOU

Published 9:00 am Thursday, February 3, 2022

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Trauma can come in many forms for children, and many may not know how to express or understand the emotions they feel following an incident.

On Wednesday, the Troup County School System and heads of the county’s law enforcement agencies signed a memorandum of understanding updating Handle with Care. This program will assist the county’s children with addressing any trauma they may experience.

The update for Handle with Care is to include notifications from the Troup County Marshal’s Office, since it handles animal calls that can be traumatizing for children.

Handle with Care is aimed at addressing children’s exposure to violence and trauma and help them receive the resources they need to cope, said Judge Michael Key, who helped initiate the program.

Following an incident with a student in which law enforcement is involved, officers will contact the student’s school with a brief summary of the situation so that school personnel are aware.

“Once we receive a notification, we’ll email a summary of what law enforcement has sent us to the principal, and we’ll speak with a counselor,” explained Jacqueline Jones, director of student services for Troup County School System.

“The email tells the people that receive it to handle that child with care. If they didn’t bring their homework, if they’re tired or anxious, if they’re behavior is out of sorts we want to be careful with how we speak with them and not be quick to punish them.”

Trauma exposure, as noted in the MOU, can include abuse of a family member or pet, abuse or neglect, homelessness, community violence and racism or discrimination.

“The true character of a community is to [care] for the children,” Key said. “Our county cares for our children [and families] above all others.”

The program extends to inner-school conflict as well, such as when a school experiences the death of a teacher, school staff member or another student.

“If that child has experienced something that could adversely impacts them that day or the day after, it fits in the definition [of trauma exposure,]” Key said.

“These things may show up immediately, they may show up when they’re 16 or 62. They may show up at different points in your life and adversely impact how you [function.]”