Tazewell County Takes First Steps to Implement New Program

TAZEWELL COUNTY, Va. (WOAY) – Tazewell County is implementing a new program called “Handle with Care” that will address childhood traumas and academics.

“We know you have [problems] in this area and your sheriff reached out to us,” said prevention and education coordinator Chad Napier. “[Traumatized kids] are going to act out, so if the teachers can get a little notice… it’s going to help them be successful that day.”

Handle With Care has been implemented in some West Virginia areas, but it’s new to Virginia. The program notes that prolonged exposure to trauma can hinder the ability to focus, behave, and learn in school. Appalachia’s opioid epidemic has caused some children to be exposed to drug abuse and domestic violence.

If law enforcement officers find a child at the scene of a crime, they will ask for that child’s name and school. Then, law enforcement sends a confidential notification to the child’s school to let personnel know that the child may be going through some trauma. The program has not taken affect, but will in the near future.

Some Tazewell County teachers attended a presentation at Bluefield College on Wednesday. Two speakers discussed dealing with victims of childhood trauma with both college students and community members. The presentation also addressed equality versus equity and discipline rather than punishment.

“We are particularly excited that we have teachers from Tazewell County here today,” said assistant professor Brandy Smith. “We are changing and making a paradigm shift in terms of being trauma responsive in schools. The leadership in Tazewell County as well as the faculty at Bluefield College are dedicated to making our communities more resilient and healthy.”

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Kassie Simmons joined the team in January 2019 as a weekend journalist. She graduated from Virginia Tech in just two and a half years with a BA in multimedia journalism. During her short time at Virginia Tech, she served as the editor for the university’s chapter of The Tab. Kassie was named the top reporter for The Tab at Virginia Tech on multiple occasions and made the list for the top 30 reporters for The Tab in the U.S. She also studied theater performance and minored in creative writing. Before coming to WOAY, Kassie interned at WSLS in Roanoke and the Tidewater Review in her hometown of West Point, Va. She has loved following breaking news since her childhood and has a passion for delivering the stories people care most about. Kassie is excited to be working in Southern West Virginia and looks forward to all the adventures ahead of her. You can follow her on Twitter at @KassieLSimmons and like her page on Facebook. If you have a story you think she should check out, send her an email at ksimmons@woay.com.