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We Must Handle Kids With Care

(A quick apology to blog subscribers: I'm behind in posting and trying to catch up this weekend. I'm sorry if you got multiple inbox notifications from me! I think I've finally figured out how to turn the auto-alert off. Unfortunately, I'm an educator and social worker, not a web designer or tech person. So cross your fingers it doesn't happen again, and hang in there if it does. I hate a cluttered inbox, and I'm itchy and irritated knowing I've done it to you.)


In this EdSurge piece (~ 5 min read), I reflect on what happened after my godson survived a mass school shooting. This article focuses on the role of educators and administrators, introducing a simple model schools can use to handle students who have experienced trauma with care.


After the shooting, we experienced huge variation in how each of my godchildren and children's schools were able to provide trauma-informed support. To be honest, there is tremendous room for growth. It makes sense though. School staff do not get the same level of training and practice in trauma response as they do for emergency drills. They should.


In this piece, I recommend a model my colleague Karen Pittman introduced me to, called "Handle With Care." It started in West Virginia, in a community suffering from high levels of community violence and drug use. Every morning, administrators receive a "Handle With Care" list from first responders of students who experienced any type of traumatic incident that involved police, the fire department, or EMTs (e.g., domestic violence). No incident details are disclosed, just the names of young people who may be suffering or struggling. This signals the school to turn on a variety of supports and services for those students, which may include postponing tests and assignment deadlines, providing counseling, and prepping the classroom teacher. The model is free and sensible, and starting to scale nationwide.


For more on our story and the Handle With Care model, you can read the EdSurge piece or check out the West Virginia Center for Children's Justice.


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