Cleveland County Sheriff Launches ‘Handle With Care’ Program With Schools
CLEVELAND COUNTY, Oklahoma - The Cleveland County Sheriff's Office is implementing a new program this school year to address emotional trauma among students, called Handle With Care.
This partnership allows school districts to know when a child has experienced trauma, allowing them to be handled with care.
Last year, the Cleveland County Sheriff's Office investigated 77 domestic violence related crimes and 43 child victim crimes. Lexington Schools Superintendent Chad Hall said the problem is actually much larger.
“We’re seeing the majority in some of our rural schools experiencing those kinds of situations in their lives,” Hall said.
Hall told News 9 those impacts are felt in the classroom through a child's behavior.
He said, “Obviously it’s hard to concentrate when your mind is on something that’s happened to you or someone you love.”
Now, though, when Cleveland County deputies respond to a call, they have a conversation with kids and learn their name, grade and the school they attend. Then they send a simple note to administrators to "handle with care."
Sheriff Todd Gibson explained, “That sends a whole trigger of resources towards that child and alert the school that this child has some things going on in their personal life that might be affecting them at school.”
The Handle With Care program has been implemented in agencies around the country with great success.
“We’re not airing out family’s dirty laundry to the schools that potentially starts the rumor mill,” the sheriff said. “It’s very private. It’s very simple.”
Hall said that small piece of knowledge goes a long way.
“Information is power,” the superintendent said. “We need to know everything that we can know, and then make the best situations for each student.”
Gibson has already received positive feedback from the community, and hopes the idea continues to spread.
He said, “What I would hope is that other law enforcement agencies would follow suit, and everybody should be doing this.”
For more information on the national Handle With Care initiative, click here.