Assist for San Diego college students experiencing trauma

SAN DIEGO – Prosecutors, police and school officials on Wednesday announced the creation of an app designed to help students who have recently suffered trauma that can affect their behavior and performance in school. The Use Care app allows police to alert schools if a student has recently experienced a traumatic event such as domestic violence at home, the arrest of a family member, or a violent crime that could result in the child acting or performing poorly at school.

Details of the incidents are not shared with schools or school districts, and the notification does not become part of the child’s permanent record. This comes from a statement from the San Diego District Attorney’s Office that said the trauma and stress may lead outside of school for the child who gets into trouble instead of receiving support. The app was first launched as part of a pilot program that included the Chula Vista Police Department, Chula Vista Elementary School District, and Sweetwater Union School District, according to the DA office.

The program is currently being implemented in El Cajon by the Cajon Valley School District and the El Cajon Police Department, while efforts are being made to expand the program nationwide, according to the DA office.

The San Diego County Department of Education has also provided educational materials detailing what behavior to watch for and what to say in response to it.

“Children who have trauma at home often do not do their homework, take poor tests and are withdrawn,” said District Attorney Summer Stephan. “This pilot program is an easy way to alert teachers and school administrators and provide key contexts so they can monitor the child’s behavior and provide support when needed.”

The Superintendent of the Chula Vista Elementary School District, Francisco Escobedo, welcomed the app.

“Trauma can undermine children’s ability to learn in the classroom, build relationships, and function appropriately, be it virtual or in person,” he said. “Given the turbulent nature of our time, we are faced with unprecedented life-changing events. The Handle with Care program provides enhanced communication, compassionate engagement and teacher sensitivity.”

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