The West Virginia Children Exposed to Violence Initiative is a Defending Childhood Initiative tailored to reflect the needs and issues affecting children in West Virginia. The Initiative, a result of a collaborative effort of key stakeholders and partners, builds upon the success of proven programs throughout the country. The goal of the Initiative is to prevent children’s exposure to violence, mitigate negative affects experienced by children’s exposure to violence, and to increase knowledge and awareness of this issue.
Professionals (teachers, counselors, coaches, law enforcement, therapist, shelter staff, etc.) play a critical role in preventing and reducing the impact of exposure to violence on children. Regardless of the source of trauma, the common thread is the school.
The West Virginia Defending Childhood Initiative focuses heavily on improving communication and collaboration between law enforcement and the school. A cornerstone of the initiative is the Handle With Care process. When officers encounter a child who has been exposed to violence – either as a direct victim of abuse or neglect, or as a witness to violence in the home or community – a Handle With Care notice is forwarded to the child’s school to alert teachers and school staff. This notice alerts educators to watch for warning signs and allows them to provide effective interventions and referrals for additional counseling or services if the student should exhibit academic, emotional or behavioral problems in the classroom. The Handle With Care notice allows educators to better understand and address the causes of the behavior and not just the behavior, thereby helping students achieve at their highest levels despite whatever traumatic circumstances they may have endured. This simple communication can have huge ramifications and truly change the trajectory of a child’s path.
View the Initiative brochure by clicking on the image below: