BRIDGEWATER, NJ - The Bridgewater Police Department is the first law enforcement agency in Somerset County to participate in a Trauma Informed Care training program, run by Resilient Youth Somerset, according to a release from the department.

According to the release, when dealing with a traumatic call for service involving an individual or family in crisis, officers recognize that some people need support beyond actual help during the incident.

Resilient Youth Somerset, the release said, is partnering with mental health providers, youth service providers, school districts, the court system and law enforcement to bring a focus to Trauma Informed Care.

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Research shows, the release said, that one in four children in the United States has experienced some kind of trauma through adverse childhood experiences. Understanding the impacts of the trauma, the release said, is crucial for getting children the help they need and breaking intergenerational cycles of abuse and neglect.

Trauma Informed Care, the release said, is an organizational structure, community mindfulness and treatment framework understanding, recognizing and responding to the effects of all types of trauma. The program emphasizes physical, psychological and emotional safety, while also helping survivors rebuild a sense of control and empowerment.

Diane Lefebvre, of Resilient Youth Somerset, and Tracey Heisler, of CASA SHaW, presented the program to 45 Bridgewater police officers on the physiological changes that occur in a child's developing brain after being repeatedly exposed to trauma. Because of the changes, the release said, traumatized children and youth may respond differently to stressful situations than non-traumatized children.

Understanding the differences and reasons for them, the release, is important for law enforcement officers when responding to calls.

In addition, Resilient Youth Somerset is planning three upcoming presentations of its award-winning documentary, "Paper Tigers: One High School's Unlikely Success Story," to introduce the concept to the community. The documentary is the story of Lincoln High School, in Washington, which became a trauma informed school, and gained national attention when it saw a dramatic drop in out-of-school suspensions, increased graduation rates and increased numbers of students going on to post-secondary education.

The film will be shown Feb. 7 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Raritan Valley Community College, March 8 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Bound Brook High School and March 16 from 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Stepping Stone School.

The event is free of charge.

Registration is available at Eventbrite, by clicking on

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