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Survey: Arkansas No. 1 in Students at Risk

NORTHWEST ARKANSAS, Ark. (KNWA) -- A survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and prevention found that a high number of high school students in Arkansas have driven while drinking or been bullied on school property.

It also shows Arkansas holds the top spot for students who have ever been forced to have sex or seriously considered suicide.

"I'm not surprised it's that high," said Gillian Gullett, who started a Don't Keep It Under Cover campaign.

Gullett is not afraid to speak up. She says more support is needed for high school students.

"I know that Arkansas does not have like any comprehensive sex ed and so I think that plays a huge part of it because kids don't really grow up talking about their sexualities," Gullett said.

Gullett was 19 when she was raped. She contemplated suicide afterwards, and says her family support base helped her through.

"Mental health and sexual assault both carry these like intense stigmas and people just kind of get branded."

The survey found that 19.2 percent of Arkansas students had been physically forced to have sexual intercourse at some point in their lives, the highest rate among the 34 states with available data.

Genesis Richardson, who advocates for sexual assault prevention, says rape occurs more frequently than people think.

"Encouraging people to speak up, speak about it the whole #Metoo movement. That's so powerful and empowering for women," Richardson said.

Gillian says she thinks high school counselors should play a bigger role for students, to help these numbers go down.

"I think that this generation of students are becoming more involved and they're caring more and more about each other, and issues like this and I think it takes just one person within a school community to speak out and make a resource known to all students," Gullett said.


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