Arkansas’s children face myriad risk factors related to violence, ranking the highest nationally for cyberbullying among boys, school bullying among girls, and sexual violence, feelings of sadness or hopelessness, and attempted suicide among boys and girls, alongside other alarming factors that place Arkansas children at high-risk for school violence. Arkansas youth also consistently rank the worst nationally in obesity and physical inactivity, with Arkansas high schoolers ranking first nationally in obesity. School Telemedicine in Arkansas for Lessons in Trauma-informed Education (STARLITE) recognizes the link between a child’s mind and body (whole-body) wellness and vulnerability toward violence.
STARLITE will serve elementary and middle schools in three rural and impoverished school districts at Jasper, Lamar, and Magazine in northwest Arkansas’s Ouachita and Ozark Mountains. Each school’s officials have expressed a chronic need for a violence and bullying prevention program that enhances students’ overall health and employees’ ability to respond to mental health crises, violence, and bullying. In addition, each school district has a history of success in partnering with the applicant through secure, interactive video nutrition, obesity, and behavioral health care to students.
STARLITE aims to increase school safety by:
- Training all school employees – inclusive of faculty, guidance counselors, school resource officers, administrators, and community mental health providers – to identify at-risk students, respond to mental health crises, and support student whole body wellness.
- Empowering all students to resist violent acts against themselves and others, bullying, and cyberbullying by building positive self-concepts through outreach and education.
- Counseling at-risk students through a behavioral-cognitive approach and trauma-informed care method that isolates the root of behavioral problems and reinforces positive self-concept.
- Educating all parents to identify risk factors in their children and building positive self-concept.
- Reaching rural schools through virtual and in-person methods.
Through STARLITE, schools are expected to witness an increased capacity to identify and address student violence, bullying, and victimization; improved school climate; increased positive self-concept among students; and fewer violent behavior and bullying visits to the principal’s office with achieving BJA performance measures.
The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences’ Institute for Digital Health & Innovation will lead STARLITE with a staff skilled in maternal-child health and active experience working with rural schools to combat adverse physical and mental health outcomes. STARLITE can adapt to the needs of each school following COVID-19, switching to virtual interactions as needed to maintain CDC standards of safety.
Partnering School Districts
Four rural Arkansas school districts are currently served by the Public Schools Program – Jasper, Lamar, & Magazine.
“About 13.4 million children under the age of 18 lived in the rural areas of the nation.”US Census Bureau. New Census Data Show Differences Between Urban and Rural Populations. The United States Census Bureau. Published December 8, 2016. https://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2016/cb16-210.html