BELCHERTOWN, Mass. (WWLP) – If a traumatic event has happened that may affect a child in school, the district will be notified by police as part of the Handle With Care initiative.

The Children’s Advocacy Center Hampshire County has invited several school districts to participate in the Handle With Care pilot program. An alert to the school will help in providing aid to the student impacted while respecting the child’s privacy.

This initiative is a communication agreement from police that lets school staff know a student has suffered a traumatic event such as a car crash, the unattended death or suicide of a family member, a domestic violence incident, or a drug overdose. The information about the event will not be shared with the school, only as a “Handle With Care” notification with the child’s name and age.

Belchertown Police Chief Kevin Pacunas said, “Officers responding to emergency scenes where children are present want to do something to make a traumatic event a little easier for those children. Giving schools this heads up is one way to make that happen.”

Belchertown Superintendent Brian Cameron has launched the initiative this week. A letter describing the program was sent to parents last week as well as a training held at the Jabish Brook Middle School in Belchertown. The training offered information on how the program works and what schools can expect.

“We know that students sometimes experience adverse events outside of school that follow them to school, impacting how they learn in school as well as how they interact with their teachers and other students,” Belchertown Superintendent Brian Cameron said. “While educators know this can be the case at any time for any student, the Handle With Care program gives educators a better chance at helping a child navigate school after a traumatic experience.”

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