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Rally supporters: It’s time to take bullying seriously

By Justin Averette

Alex Moore’s family, friends, classmates and concerned community members said Saturday’s rally at Ollie Park was just the beginning of their efforts to address bullying in Chilton County Schools.

Alex Moore, a 15-year-old student a Jemison High School, jumped off an Interstate 65 overpass May 12, killing herself.

Alex’s supporters say bullying was one of several factors that led Alex to decide to end her life.

Page Perdue, a 2009 graduate of Jemison High, said she was happy to hear about Saturday’s rally, which was followed by a candlelight vigil in honor of Alex.

Perdue said she hopes the community learns a valuable lesson from Alex’s death.

“Our school system needs to be safe and inviting,” she said.

Perdue insisted the school system, parents and students must step up to make a difference. She said people must also understand the power their words have on others.

“The power of words can be so intense,” Perdue said. “The power of words can tear much deeper than physical hurt.

“It’s time our community took bullying more serious.”

Clanton Police Chief Brian Stilwell and Chilton County Sheriff Kevin Davis also addressed the crowd.

“A lot of time triumph comes out of tragedy, and let’s all work to make sure something triumphant comes out of this tragedy,” Stilwell said.

The police chief said there is often a wall children build between police, school counselors and teachers, and everyone must work to tear that wall down.

“We are here for you like we are here for your parents,” Stilwell told the children in the crowd.

Stilwell gave out his email address and said he wanted to schedule a meeting with kids and their parents to have a discussion about what law enforcement can do about bullying.

Davis said no one entity could fix the problem. It’s going to take students, parents, teachers, administrators and law enforcement all working together, he said.

Bullying seems worse today than in the past because students can’t get away from it because it now happens online, on Facebook and Myspace, Davis said.

“There is no way to escape that at 3 o’clock when we ride the bus home,” he said.

The sheriff said he would like to see lawmakers enact stronger anti-bullying laws.

“We need an Alex Moore law in Alabama,” Davis said.

Such a law should hold parents of bullies accountable for their child’s actions, he said.

“If we are going to stop bullying in our schools, there is going to have to be serious consequences,” Davis said.

During the vigil, students spoke about their experiences with bullying.

Thorsby eighth-grader Regina Wilson said Alex’s death didn’t have to be.

“Alex never deserved what she got,” Wilson said.