Can you remember your first day back to school? I sure do! I remember making sure I had my backpack organized, my outfit picked out, and my alarm clock set so I could be on time for my first day. I couldn’t wait to get to school to see my friends who I hadn’t seen all summer and finding out who my teachers were going to be.
The first day of school looks a lot different these days for the youth in our country and around the world. The youth will be waking up to attend virtual classes where it is their responsibility to grasp a learning experience by the push of a button and looking into a screen. I can only imagine the pressure and stressors that go along with the thought of attending class virtually.
I worked as a School Resource Officer at a local High School before I became the MNPD LGBTQ Liaison. On the first day of school, standing outside while the buses arrived brought butterflies to my stomach. I had a student introduce herself by saying her name, excited for that to have been her last year, and couldn’t wait to graduate. She welcomed me to the school and said “good luck.” Needless to say with that being her senior year and my first year we created an unbreakable bond up until she walked across the stage.
Being an SRO brought joy to my heart, but there were times when teachers would contact us to say they were sending a student to the office due to injuries they observed on the student. After speaking with the student it would be disclosed, in most cases, a parent or guardian caused the injuries during an altercation. As more incidents arose throughout the year, I could see the relief on some students faces while others would verbally state they didn’t know who to turn to for help and would thank all involved for caring enough to help them.
What happens now that teachers aren’t in the same classrooms with the students to report incidents and/or injuries on a child? How can you help decrease the trauma in a child’s life? Families are experiencing higher rates of domestic violence and child abuse due to COVID-19, and supporting our neighbors is more important than ever. We can all be diligent about caring for the children and youth in our community by checking in with the kids in our lives—whether it be a neighbor, friend or family member. Educate yourself about the warning signs of abuse and neglect, and what to do if you suspect abuse.
A resource I would like to share is the Family Safety Center located at 610 Murfreesboro Pike Nashville, TN 37210. The Family Safety Center serves individuals who have experienced domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, or child abuse and provide free/confidential services to victims. In the state of Tennessee EVERYONE is required by law to report any child abuse or suspected child abuse immediately. Child Abuse is defined as a “child’s parent or caregiver causes injury, death, emotional harm, or risk of serious harm to a child, either through their own actions or by failing to protect their child from those actions. Child abuse can include physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, abandonment, exploitation, and substance abuse.” If you are in need, or know someone in need, the Family Safety Center has advocates available Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm who you can speak to over the phone at 615-880-1100 without going to the center. The advocate can also help refer you to other resources and services.
The best ways to report an emergency in life-threatening situations is to call 911, in reporting non-emergency child abuse or neglect cases call the Department of Children’s Services at 1-877-237-0004 directly 24/7.
Officer Nakia Reid
Metropolitan Nashville Police Department
Pronouns: She, Her, Hers
Email: [email protected] for any questions.