There’s no shortage of anti-bullying campaigns across the country, but the problem still persists at heartbreaking levels. Middle school student Keaton Jones can speak first-hand.
In fact, the Tennessee boy recorded a video message Friday after he asked his mother, Kimberly Jones, to pick him up from school before lunch because of the constant harassment he experiences from peers.
According to the video his mother posted on Facebook, which now has more than 21 million views, a group of kids at Keaton’s school were pouring milk in his hair, throwing bread at him and putting food down his pants.
In her Facebook post, which has since been set to private, Kimberly said, “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.”
The video shows Keaton, who has scars on his head from a tumor operation, crying and telling the world that “people that are different don’t need to be criticized about it. It’s not their fault.”
This is Keaton Jones, he lives in Knoxville and he has a little something to say about bullying.pic.twitter.com/coyQxFp33V
— Everything TN (@Everything_TN) December 9, 2017
The entire country has rallied around Keaton, including athletes from his home state. Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Jarrett Guarantano was one of the first to reach out to Keaton, asking if the two could spend the day together. Of course, Keaton said “Yes.”
“So I got the chance to spend the day with my new best bud Keaton,” Guarantano posted on Twitter. “It was unbelievable to get to know him and realize that we have a lot in common. This dude is very special and has changed my life forever. Now I have the little brother I always wanted! God bless you my man.”
So I got the chance to spend the day with my new best bud Keaton. It was unbelievable to get to know him and realize that we have a lot in common. This dude is very special and has changed my life forever. Now I have the little brother I always wanted! God bless you my man pic.twitter.com/vMHVtnf2rC
— Jarrett Guarantano✞ (@BroadwayJay2) December 11, 2017
Guarantano’s teammate Tyler Byrd, a wide receiver for the Vols, got behind Keaton, too.
We going to the middle school next Tuesday show young Man some love we will also TWITTER LIVE some of it so everyone can show there love and support #vols #StopBullying @cboystunna3 @BroadwayJay2 @JKShuttlesworth @smithtrey98
— Tyler Byrd (@D1fuzzymuffin17) December 9, 2017
Then the pros chimed in. Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker invited the boy and his family to the team’s Dec. 31 game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
— Delanie walker (@delaniewalker82) December 9, 2017
Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan wants to visit Keaton’s school to “provide his services as a bodyguard.”
I need someone to connect me with this child’s family, please. I’ve been told he is from Knoxville.
Mr. Lewan is against bullying and willing to provide his services as a bodyguard.
— Nate Bain (@natebain) December 9, 2017
Outside of Tennessee, Cleveland Cavaliers stars LeBron James and J.R. Smith offered their support.
Damn right! Bullies are straight up wack, corny, cowards, chumps, etc, etc! Keaton keep your head up buddy and push forward! You’re the best https://t.co/pqDgay77l9
— LeBron James (@KingJames) December 11, 2017
That’s a damn shame. Keaton if your around when we play in Memphis i would love to invite you to one of our games. Head up Champ! https://t.co/Moh9ObdgX8
— JR Smith (@TheRealJRSmith) December 11, 2017
It’s nice to see that for as many bullies as there were making Keaton’s daily life a nightmare, there are many more kind humans out there, athletes and beyond, who have his back.