Making A Difference: Alabama woman takes on bullying - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

Making A Difference: Alabama woman takes on bullying

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Posted by Bryan Henry  -  bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Jessica Brookshire, composed, accomplished and a veteran of several beauty pageants, including the Miss Alabama pageant but there was a time when life wasn't so pretty for Brookshire.

"It started when I was 7 or 8. It was just teasing and I never stood up for myself," said Brookshire.

By not standing for herself, Brookshire paid a terrible price. She remembers that day in the school gym.

"I was in health class and a boy raised his hand and told the teacher he thought I was going to commit suicide because I was so ugly and the whole class laughed," Brookshire said.

Fast-forward about 15-years and you'll find Brookshire appearing on just about all the news channels in Alabama including Alabama Live on WSFA, spreading the word on the dangers of bullying.

It's become such a rallying cry that Brookshire started KARMA, an acronym for Kids Against Ridicule, Meanness and Aggression.

Jessica Brookshire keeps a scrapbook of fliers and emails from parents who say she has in fact made a difference.

The scrapbook helped her win the Community Service Award at the Miss Alabama pageant last month.

One teenager who applauds the work of Jessica Brookshire is Dalton Sparks, a high school football player from Jemison and a former bully.

"I picked on people."

Bryan: "Why?"

"Insecurities," Sparks admitted.

Sparks says he has since apologized to the people he picked on and they're now his friends.

The impact of bullying someone became all too real for Jim Moore.

"The note said, 'today I'm taking my life,' Moore recalled.

Moore's own daughter committed suicide in May by jumping off an interstate overpass in Chilton County.

Mr. Moore didn't know it at the time but later learned Alex Moore had been bullied at school. By his own admission, Alex was overweight, classmates called her names and there was that humiliating moment in front of her peers.

"She had her pants pulled down in front of everyone and locked in the bathroom. Alex didn't deserve that," said Moore.

And Jessica Brookshire will tell you Megan Mier didn't deserve it either. Mier killed herself after being bullied on the internet by the mother of another teenager. In fact, it was Megan's story that helped motivate Jessica to start her platform which is based on one simple premise.

"It's to teach people to be nice to each other, and to help them understand their words have a much larger impact than they could ever imagine," said Brookshire.

Jessica Brookshire not only has a quilt photo square of Megan Mier but also has one of Alex Moore. The squares will be made into a KARMA quilt which will be used as a teaching tool when she speaks to others about the dangers of bullying.

"This is very touching," said Moore after looking at the photo of his daughter.

It is Jessica Brookshire's hope that she will not have to make any more quilt photos, victims of bullying.

Brookshire is certainly doing her part; standing up to the bully mentality.

"I'll just keep going down this path and see what doors open,' she said.

One national survey shows that two-thirds of American teens say they were bullied last year. The most common reason? Appearance.

Another study shows that bullying is less likely to happen when parents are heavily involved in their child's school and experts say the best way to stop it is to speak out early and often.

Email Bryan Henry at bhenry@wsfa.com if you know of someone who is making a difference in their community.

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