SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Savannah-Chatham County Public School System (SCCPSS) and the Savannah Police Department (SPD) announced on Monday a new program to assist children who have experienced trauma.
Officers have been trained on how to use a phone application that can alert school staff that a child has witnessed or been involved in an incident that may be traumatizing.
The application requires police officers to enter and submit the first name, last name, and school the student attends. It automatically sends a notification to the student’s principal and counselor.
The nature of the incident is not shared.
Police say officers will complete the form after even the smallest of incidents to make sure all students have the support they need.
“How do we handle the most precious resources that we have in our community? We handle them with care,” explained SCCPSS Campus Police Chief Terry Enoch on the benefits of the program, appropriately named Handle with Care.
The notification process has existed at SCCPSS for years, but Handle with Care formalizes it and gives educators an even earlier heads-up.
“Sometimes we lack that notice,” explained SCCPSS Superintendent Dr. Ann Levett. “We may find out a day or two later. This allows us to get timely notice so that we can each do our part.”
Watch the full announcement:
SCCPSS says childhood exposure to violence and trauma, without the right support, is often associated with increased risk of poor outcomes in the emotional, behavioral, and physical health of young people.
Children exposed to violence and trauma are at a higher risk of poor school-related outcomes and are more likely to enter the criminal justice system later in life, which can contribute to generational cycles of violence and system involvement.
Officials say Handle With Care will also empower teachers to support students in whatever way they can. Care will range from a high-five to a referral to a counselor.
“Unattended trauma is hard on adults …imagine what it’s like for a child,” said SPD Major Robert Gavin.
SCCPSS says Handle With Care is designed to promote the partnership between law enforcement, first responders, mental health professionals and schools so that they can work together to support our children.
The program is currently undergoing a 30-day pilot period. If it goes well, the district hopes to involve more local police and fire agencies.