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.”