A boy named Keaton Jones from Knoxville, Tennessee has been facing some pretty harsh bullying at school. Recently, he called his mother to come pick him up after a particularly humiliating experience in the lunchroom. Keaton’s mom decided to record his description of what happened and now the heartbreaking clip has been viewed 17 million times. Here’s the clip as it was tweeted out by UFC president Dana White who offered to host Keaton for a visit to UFC headquarters:
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
— danawhite (@danawhite) December 10, 2017
Okay, have you stopped crying yet? It may take a while, especially if, like me, you have a son about this age. The good news here is that millions of people have now seen this clip and are reaching out to Keaton with support and offers that hopefully are making it clear to him that most people are not like the bullies. In fact, most people see a smart, worthwhile person with a bright future that other worthwhile people will want to be around. In addition to the invitation to visit UFC headquarters, Keaton has also received an invitation to visit the Tennessee Titans from tight end Delanie Walker.
— Delanie Walker (@delaniewalker82) December 9, 2017
A player for the University of Tennessee has also expressed interest in visiting Keaton’s school:
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
Keaton’s sister has been thanking everyone for the reaction to her brother’s video on Twitter:
I know when I watched Keaton’s clip, part of me wanted to find the kids responsible and let them know what I think of them. And from the tweets I’ve seen in reaction to this clip, I’m not the only person who felt that way. It’s a normal reaction but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. Turning the mob loose on the bullies is not going to make this situation better. That kind of altruistic punishment may feel satisfying but seventeen million angry people (and counting) can do a lot of lasting damage. I hope that doesn’t happen here.
The right response is the one I’m seeing above from people offering Keaton support and encouragement. He just needs to know that a) the bullies are a tiny minority of people and b) he has a bright future ahead of him. Kudos to all of the athletes mentioned above for keeping it positive. This is the kind of thing that always has and always will elevate any athlete involved.
And believe me, the bullies are already getting the message. The entire school is no doubt buzzing about all of this already. The tide has overwhelmingly turned in Keaton Jones’ favor. He is a minor celebrity now and the bullies will be the people that other kids point at and feel sorry for. They earned that but, again, they don’t need a tide of angry adults making threats. That’s just more bullying.
Finally, it’s worth remembering that many stories like this don’t have a happy ending. Bullies are using social media to hound young kids until they kill themselves. This is another kind of harassment that needs to be tolerated less than it is.
Update: Looks like Keaton also has a date with an attractive actress:
— Hailee Steinfeld (@HaileeSteinfeld) December 10, 2017