Marion recognized as Handle with Care community

Jun 7, 2021

MARION -- Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy Cruz met with local officials at Sippican School on Monday, June 7 to announce that Marion has become a Handle with Care community.

Handle with Care is a protocol used by police, firefighters, and EMS to notify schools when a student has been a victim of, or witness to, a traumatic event. No details of traumatic incidents are shared, only that the child should be “handled with care.”

“We’re trying to make all our schools trauma-sensitive,” Cruz said, adding that he was very appreciative of the town of Marion for adopting the system.

After the school receives a handle with care notice, it is forwarded to the student’s teachers so they are aware that the student may be in a fragile state and should be treated appropriately. Teachers are also instructed to monitor the student’s behavior and refer them to a school counselor, nurse, or social worker if further intervention is needed.

Cruz discussed the importance of addressing childhood trauma early before it has a chance to cause long-lasting behavioral and mental health issues.

Adverse Childhood Experiences, which include any potentially traumatic event experienced before age 18, are linked to an increased risk of a wide variety of health and social problems later in life such as depression, substance abuse, and sexually transmitted infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“[Handle with Care] will be instrumental in closing a possible communication gap,” Old Rochester School District Superintendent Michael Nelson said.

Marion Chief of Police Richard Nighelli said that there is “nothing worse” than having to leave a traumatic event where a child was present and not knowing whether they would receive the proper counseling.

“[The program] gives us a sense of ease,” he said.