New Law To Require Crisis Hotline Numbers On School ID Cards
Starting July, public high schools and colleges will be required to include crisis hotline numbers on their student IDs under a new law passed in 2020.
The idea started in 2015 with former Pinnacle High School principal and incoming Paradise Valley Unified School District superintendent Troy Bales. After his school experienced five suicide during his four years as principal, Bales wanted to connect students with Teen Lifeline, a crisis intervention service for struggling youths. This includes peer-to-peer counseling that connects them other youth who understand what they are going through.
"That’s one of things that’s really important. Kids need to talk to one another. When they can do that, this is what makes the work of Teen Lifeline and the partnership with all of us so important," Bales said.
Today, the nonprofit's number is listed on the back of almost 250 schools’ IDs. This initiative served as the inspiration for the 2020 law sponsored by state Sen. Sean Bowie.
“We need to make sure that our school communities know what to do when there's a kid struggling and is in pain and needs help, but also that our kids know that our school staff and educators are thinking about them and want them to have that help whenever they need it," said Teen Lifeline Clinical Director Nikki Kontz.
Making this initiative statewide is important now more than ever, Kontz said, as so many youths are struggling with feelings of isolation and depression during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Both kids and adults are reaching out to hotlines and reaching out for help at a higher rate than they ever before," she said. "They are doing exactly what we want them to do.”
Kontz hopes that when more schools have this information on their IDs, it will be even easier for students and school staff to call or pass on the resource to anyone who needs it.