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Sen. Harper Angel’s bill adding crisis intervention hotline information to student IDs passes Senate

A bill, sponsored by Senator Denise Harper Angel, D-Louisville, that would provide crisis intervention hotline information to public school and college students was approved by the Senate today.

Senate Bill 42 requires hotline information for suicide prevention, sexual assault, and domestic violence on school-issued student identification badges for public schools, grades six through twelve; and all Kentucky university-issued student IDs. Secondary schools that do not issue student IDs are not affected.

“Suicide, instances of domestic abuse, and sexual assault are becoming all too common among our young people,” Sen. Harper Angel said. “I am thrilled to see the passage of the Senate Bill 42 in the Senate, and I am hopeful it will pass in the House. We are well on our way to helping students struggling with these issues.”

Se. Denise Harper Angel (Photo from LRC)

The legislation comes on the heels of rising suicide rates and sexual violence among Kentucky youth. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the second leading cause of death for Kentuckians ages 15-34. In fact, every 12 hours someone in Kentucky loses their life to suicide.

In January of 2019, Marion County Superintendent Taylora Schlosser’s life changed forever following the tragic passing of her daughter, Taylor Rae Nolan. Schlosser founded the Rae of Sunshine Foundation in memory of Taylor. The goal of the foundation is to partner with local community groups and organizations to raise awareness, and provide support to those struggling with mental illness. She also testified in front of the Senate Committee on Education in favor of SB 42.

The suicide rate in the United States for children and teens 18 and younger has grown by more than 90 percent over the last decade. Recent findings show suicide rates at the highest count since data collection began in 1999. Kentucky law already requires suicide prevention training in grades six through twelve.

Lori Vogel, a social worker, and guidance counselor for Fayette County Public Schools also spoke in favor of the legislation.

“Senate Bill 42 is so important to the students of Kentucky. While we may think today’s students can easily access anything they want through their electronic devices, it’s important to remember that during a crisis, judgement and thought processes can be impaired,” said Vogel. “Having these numbers on hand, in an easy place to find during that crisis, could be the difference in a life and death situation.”

The domestic and sexual assault hotlines are also crisis intervention tools. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, more than 50 percent of sexual assaults take place between August and November. In addition, college women ages 18-24 are three times more likely than women in general to experience sexual assault. The Sexual Assault Response Team Advisory Committee reports one of every two Kentucky women and one of every five Kentucky men will experience sexual assault during their lives. Many of these instances go without a police report ever being filed.

Secondary and post-secondary institutions have made significant strides in providing prevention services to students. However, many students still face waiting times to receive the crisis prevention help they need. For instance, students on the waiting list at one Kentucky university averaged 27 business days for their first appointment during the fall 2018 semester, 14 business days during the spring 2019 semester, and five business days during the summer term, according to data. Sen. Harper Angel said by requiring this information on the identification badge, Kentucky can provide students that are struggling with immediate help.

“By having these crisis prevention numbers on the back of students’ IDs, we are letting students know that they are not alone and that help is readily available to them,” Sen. Harper Angel said. “I will now begin working with our colleagues in the House to make this a reality.”

SB 42 will be now be sent to the House for further consideration.

Senator Harper Angel represents the 35th Senate District, which includes a portion of Jefferson County.

From Legislative Research Commission

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