A Tennessee middle schooler's story about being bullied at school has gone viral over the weekend and has garnered the attention of many famous celebrities.
Who is he?
The middle schooler is Keaton Jones. His mother, Kimberly, uploaded a video of a sobbing Keaton on Friday after she had just picked him up from school during lunch, something she has had to do often this school year because Keaton is a bully's target. The video quickly went viral because Keaton's message resonated with so many people.
"Just out of curiosity, why do they bully? What’s the point of it? Why do you find joy in taking innocent people and finding a way to be mean to them? It’s not OK," Keaton says in the video, his mother recording in a parking lot.
"They make fun of my nose. They call me ugly. They say I have no friends,” Keaton explains, tears streaming down his cheeks. They “put milk on me and put ham down my clothes, throw bread on me."
"I don’t like that they do it to me. And I, for sure, don’t like that they do it to other people, cause it’s not OK!" Keaton adds. "People that are different don’t need to be criticized about it. It’s not their fault."
Before the video ended, Keaton dished out advice for anyone who is a victim of bullying.
"But if you are made fun of, just don’t let it bother you. Just stay strong, I guess. It’s hard. But...it’ll probably get better one day," he says.
What did his mother say?
Though she was never in the video, the pain in Ms. Jones' voice was very real. When uploading the video to Facebook, she wrote:
For the record, Keaton asked to do this AFTER he had he me pick him up AGAIN because he was afraid to go to lunch. My kids are by no stretch perfect, & at home, he's as all boy as they come, but by all accounts he's good at school. Talk to your kids. I've even had friends of mine tell me they're kids were only nice to him to get him to mess with people. We all know how it feels to want to belong, but only a select few know how it really feels not to belong anywhere.
What has happened since?
Despite the video only being up for two days, Keaton's message has been heard around the world and the video has garnered a massive response. As of Sunday afternoon, the video has accumulated more than 17.5 million views, and has hundreds of thousands of shares, comments and reactions.
It's also spurred a massive outreach effort from athletes and celebrities, many of whom reached out or showed their support for Keaton.
Members of the Tennessee Volunteers football team:
We going to the middle school next Tuesday show young Man some love we will also TWITTER LIVE some of it so everyon… https://t.co/Nny108AjJl— Tyler Byrd (@Tyler Byrd)1512849974.0
The Tennessee Titans:
@DonteStallworth @Lakyn_Jones hopefully my video and the tweets that Keaton have been getting brings awareness to b… https://t.co/i1unlqNzHj— Delanie Walker (@Delanie Walker)1512856630.0
UFC president Dana White:
Meet Keaton Jones a very smart little boy who is being bullied at school. This video is heartbreaking!! I want to bring Keaton to Vegas and hang out at UFC Headquarters. If anyone knows how i can reach the family please let me know. Thank u everyone pic.twitter.com/BR8c4ldDFc
— Dana White (@danawhite) December 10, 2017
Millie Bobby Brown, a famous child actor who stars in "Stranger Things":
A New York Giants player:
Nah man not cool. Not cool at all. Stuff like this breaks my heart. Those kids and their parents need to be held ac… https://t.co/oFnU3Teidi— Damon Harrison Sr. (@Damon Harrison Sr.)1512864571.0
NASCAR superstar Dale Earnhardt Jr.:
This is heartbreaking. But the response of support for him is a beautiful thing. Add me to your long list of friend… https://t.co/d4hV4JiqwP— Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@Dale Earnhardt Jr.)1512933705.0
Actor Patrick Adams:
We hear you #KeatonJones. I was bullied constantly growing up. And could never have put into words what you have. I… https://t.co/tmyTXYY3HO— Patrick J Adams (@Patrick J Adams)1512859429.0
Country singer Cole Swindell:
Hey, @Lakyn_Jones .. bring your brother Keaton by the bus before my show in Knoxville, TN next month if ya want.. w… https://t.co/5sCi4h7PNO— Cole Swindell (@Cole Swindell)1512922487.0
Rapper Snoop Dogg:
A post shared by snoopdogg (@snoopdogg) on
Singer Ricky Martin:
#Repost @danawhite ・・・ Meet Keaton Jones a very smart little boy who is being bullied at school. This video is heartbreaking!! I want to bring Keaton to Vegas and hang out at UFC Headquarters. If anyone knows how i can reach the family please let me know. Thank u everyone
A post shared by Ricky (@ricky_martin) on
Countless other celebrities and hundreds of thousands of others nationwide have made it clear: Keaton has a friend in them.
Supporters even established a GoFundMe for Keaton, which has already surpassed its goal of $20,000.