JERSEY CITY, NJ - A new initiative designed to ensure that school aged children in Hudson County who have been impacted by a traumatic or critical event receive the proper care and resources when returning to school launched last week, according to Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez.
In a statement Suarez announced that the program, “Hudson County Cops Care”, will allow for school officials to be made aware when a student has been exposed to a traumatic event involving local police such as the execution of a search warrant in the home, arrest of an adult or other family member, domestic violence incidents, or even when the child is a victim of a crime.
“We know that for children experiencing traumatic incidents it can be life altering,” Suarez said. “Hudson County Cops Care is meant to be one more safety net to ensure that these children are not overlooked and are provided the necessary care, resources and support to recover from these experiences.”
Local law enforcement officials involved in the interaction with the child will complete a standardized form that will just confirm that the child had been exposed to a traumatic event. No specifics or details of the incident would be provided to ensure confidentiality, just that the child had been exposed to a traumatic event, Suarez explained.
Other examples of traumatic incidents could include if a family member has suffered an overdose, a shooting, death of a family member, or a house fire. Studies show that exposure to Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) increases a child’s chances for mental health issues, substance abuse, and the likelihood to commit crime as a juvenile or adult.
“The Chiefs of Police Association of Hudson County is proud to partner with Hudson County Prosecutor Suarez, the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office and our local school officials to help protect the children in our communities throughout Hudson County who may have experienced a traumatic event,” said Bayonne Police Chief Robert Geisler, President of the Chiefs of Police Association of Hudson County. “Through this collaborative effort, we now have a system in place to help protect the youngest and sometimes the most vulnerable segment of our society, our children, to deal with and receive the appropriate services in the event that they experience a traumatic event.
Suarez also announced that the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office will soon be creating Comfort Bags – small backpacks with coloring books, stuffed animals, stress balls and water bottles – to provide to local police departments to keep in their patrol cars and precincts to have on hand to help ease children who have experienced a trauma. The bags and contents were paid for by victim witness grant funding.
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