Hotline Bling

What’s on the back of the ID badges?

Makayla Kellem, Editor

Content Warning: This article mentions topics surrounding abuse, sexual assault, and suicide.

Arkansas State Legislature passed HB1770– now known as ACT 1069. As per AAMSCO the bill “requires public schools grade 6-12 and all two- and four-year higher education institutions to add the following national hotline information to ID badges to enrolled students;

National Domestic Violence Hotline

National Sexual Assault Hotline

National Suicide Prevention Hotline

Campus-Related Contact Information”

In a school like Mountain Home with hundreds of students per grade, it’s important to keep tabs for safety precautions. Items like ID badges were created to pinpoint exactly who should and shouldn’t be in the school, while also being great identifiers in the event of an emergency. 

When I first received my ID, I immediately noticed the new phone numbers placed on the back of the badge. I, the same as anyone else, would agree that access to information is vital, but seeing those numbers on the first day of school does have an eerie feeling to it. This has begun to stir the question of, “Did something happen for this to be added?”

At this time it is unclear what prompted the state to include this information, but some have assumed it’s due to various reasons such as at-home education.

Senior Micaela McLean stated, “I think since more kids have started coming back to school this year, it’s important for them to have resources and ways to reach out for help. Not every student is safe being stuck at home and the school is acknowledging this issue.”

Although most students have a seemingly good household, not every child is comfortable talking to their guardians about mental health and wellness. 

As per a 2019 CDC report, on average one Arkansan dies by suicide every sixteen hours. It’s the second leading cause of death for ages 10-34 in the state, and the statistics have only worsened due to the past year’s isolation. 

The 2019 Arkansas High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey reveals that 36% of students stated they “felt so had or hopeless that they stopped usual activities for over two weeks” and 11.5% have attempted suicide at some point in their lives. 

13.4% of Arkansas teens have experienced some form of sexual violence in their lives, 94% of them being forced into sexual intercourse (so 12.6% of teens overall). Around 10% have experienced dating violence, with girls having a higher average of 12.5% (compared to their male counterpart’s 7.1%). 

It’s a common misconception that discussing suicide and depression will only further a person’s issues, or “put ideas in their head.” However, it’s just that: a misconception. Having non-judgemental conversations or putting resources out there will help people put words to their feelings and understand why they feel the way they do. 

Junior Alexus Perry elaborated, “Hopefully if someone is stuck in a bad situation they can see those numbers and use them. Not everyone has access to info like this.”