Law enforcement officers respond to incidents involving death, narcotic use, custody disputes, and domestic violence, and those situations sometimes involve minors. Those children often must soon return to school, and the strain of shouldering this emotional burden can lead them to act out. To lend support to local students, the Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Office and the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation have launched a new initiative.
Begun in the fall 2020 semester, Handle with Care is modeled after a national program that sheriff’s office personnel learned of while completing school resource officer training. Omitting sensitive investigation details, the sheriff’s office will notify EVSC that one of its students has been subjected to a possible trauma while at the scene of the incident. Educators can then set up sensitive, proactive ways to address the student while they process this trauma.
“We contact the school corporation and let them know that a student has experienced something traumatic, in case their behavior changes,” Vanderburgh County Sheriff Dave Wedding says. “(The students) carry a lot on their shoulders.”
Handle with Care was honored at Leadership Everyone’s 2021 Celebration of Leadership Awards as a standout program relating government, public service, or environment.
“Society will get better or worse based on youth and how they grow up,” Wedding says. “We always want to be engaging with youth in our community, and we’re part of the community with them.”