By Alan Collins
CLANTON, AL (WBRC) - The suicide of a 15-year-old Jemison girl spurred Wednesday an educational talk about bullying.
Jay Banks, an educator and entertainer, spoke Wednesday to a packed auditorium of Chilton County educators at Chilton County High School. His program, Stamp Out Bullying, is aimed at cutting down the destructive practice of bullying among teenagers.
"75 to 80 percent of our kids is going to be bullied this year," Banks said. "30 percent on a weekly basis."
Banks was brought in just a few months after the death of a Jemison teenager. Alex Moore died after jumping from an overpass onto Interstate 65 last May. Family members and friends say she was depressed about being bullied at Jemison High School.
"A lot of it is convincing parents and teachers that it is a problem," Banks said. "Quite often we ignore it. It starts in elementary school, peaks in middle school."
Banks wants teachers and parents to be aware of symptoms of bullying, including physical abuse, not talking and kids looking for excuses not to attend school. Chilton County Superintendent Keith Moore said Alex's suicide was a driving force for the meeting.
"We had a tragedy at the end of last year involving one of our students," Moore said. "I felt our teachers needed help identifying bullying."
Alex's parents appreciate the school systems efforts to make sure this tragedy does not happen again.
"It's unfortunate it would take something like this to raise awareness, speaking of the passing of my daughter." Jim Moore said.
Jim Moore and his wife, Jill, are also working to pass a law in Alabama to end bullying.
"We are trying to get a law passed," Moore said. "Alabama is one of the few states that doesn't have an anti-bullying law."
Banks said he plans to return to Chilton County later in August to provide techniques to empower students to stand up to bullying.
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