ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Statics show that children who witness and experience trauma are more likely to grow up and become domestic violence offenders.

The City of Rockford is teaming up with the school district to take a pro-active approach before a student acts out in class. It is a simple concept; extend kindness to someone who needs support. That’s the idea behind the new collaboration between the City of Rockford and RPS 205.

It is called “Handle With Care.”

“If there’s some sort of violent or traumatic event that requires police presence and there’s children on scene, the police take that information into a police report,” said Heidi Dettman, executive director of academics for RPS 205. “We automated a process that pulls from the police reports into our student information system, does some accuracy checks and then generates an automatic report for each of our schools, and its simply the students name and ‘handle with care.'”

Teachers and staff in the Rockford School District have been trained on the “Handle With Care” notification process. Details on what a student experienced are not included. Teachers just know that something happened that may explain why a child is having an off day.

“Our students are arriving at school experiencing trauma. Some are acting out, some are withdrawing and sometimes they don’t know why that is,” said Emily Schmidt, manager of youth prevention and intervention strategies for the Mayor’s Office of Domestic and Community Violence Prevention. “Receiving a ‘Handle With Care’ notice allows school personnel to really take a look, maybe take a minute to pause and assess, ‘is my student struggling? And if my student is struggling, how can I best assist them?'”

Teachers are trained to be compassionate observers and can connect a ‘Handle With Care’ student to additional support if needed.

“Being there for a child in their moment of need, A, just reinforces that this school is a safe place for you, and it can also help us build a bridge between what the child and their family needs and our community resources,” Dettman said. “So by taking care of children, sort of, in that moment and by opening those lines of communication, we can do our job better as adults and we can help remove barriers for students to learn.”

If you are a survivor of domestic or sexual violence, visit our Stateline Strong page for resources.