#StandWithKeaton: Keaton Jones, A Kid Who Made Bullying Too Real
Afraid To Eat Lunch In School
"Why Do They Bully?"
I'm a high school teacher in a growing community in south central Ontario, Canada, and I'm often struck by just how brave kids can be. We never know what other people are dealing with sometimes until it's too late, and when someone stands up and asks a question that sometimes, people are often too afraid to ask.
Keaton Jones is one of those brave kids. His mom, Kimberly Jones, posted a video of her son to Facebook on December 8, 2017 at his request, reportedly, when she came to pick him up yet again because he was afraid to eat lunch at school. Keaton, a student at Maynard Middle School in Maynardville, Union County, Tennessee, has been a regular victim of bullies, and his experiences with them have resulted in milk being poured all over him and ham being stuffed in his clothes, among other details.
Keaton was born with a tumor and because of its removal, he has a scar, which might have at least attracted the visual attention of the bullies. That doesn't matter, though; anyone who has been bullied in the past knows bloody well that a bully could find anything from a scar, to the color of your eyes, to your height - anything - to use to make you feel small.
“Just out of curiosity, why do they bully?" Keaton asks, through tears. "What’s the point of it? Why do you find joy in taking innocent people and finding a way to be mean to ’em? It’s not okay.”
To Keaton, I say this: Buddy, it most definitely is not okay, and my heart hurts for you. You look like you're about the same age as my oldest daughter, who is in her last year of middle school. I wish you both were in the same school; I'm certain that you guys would get along. I wish mightily that teachers and older students you admire see this video and step forward to help you and other kids who are being bullied, because it should not happen, ever.
We live in a world where we tag people with labels because there's something about them that we somehow do not understand. Some go so far as to attack those who are different, which is absolute insanity; who among us has been made so perfect that we have the right to make other people feel terrible just for existing?
"People that are different don't need to be criticized about it 'cause it's not their fault," he said.
There are so many kids out there who are "different." Kids who, like Keaton Jones, are dealing with the aftermath of visible scars and are just trying to forget about them so other kids just accept them for who they are.
Kids who are LGBTQ+, who are struggling with issues of gender identity or sexuality (or both) and trying to be accepted by both parents and peers.
Kids who are dealing with chronic illness that requires treatment that may sideline them from many of life's experiences, like being part of a sports team or club, and are trying to find ways to fit in with their peers still.
Kids who are dealing with a host of issues at home that none of us know anything about because they just want to be "normal."
Keaton Jones' Powerful Message
More Work To Be Done About Bullies
There are, of course, a lot of kids with issues as unique as they themselves are, and Keaton shows an incredible amount of courage just by allowing his mom to record the video that has now been seen by millions. Many children - not just boys, but kids as a whole - don't want their parents recording them at their most emotional and raw, and yet, Keaton is bravely allowing his voice to be heard. There's that part of me that wants to go to Keaton's school in Tennessee and hug him so tightly that he feels whole again.
I commend Kimberly Jones for her bravery in recording the video and in posting it to Facebook, apparently with her son's blessing. As a mom and a teacher, I was in tears listening to Keaton and hearing his heartbreak. I don't know how she found the courage to keep recording without bawling herself. Watching the video, I wanted to find Keaton's bullies and give them a good shake, but that would solve nothing.
Keaton's video should be a call to action. All the celebrities that have said they #StandWithKeaton should be commended for reaching out to this incredible young man, but even more, schools worldwide should see this video and realize there's still more work to do to stop bullies from causing the heartbreak that they do. Bullying is not a problem that's somehow unique to American schools; it's a problem that occurs in all schools, in every country, in one respect or another, and we need to keep working on ways to ensure that every child feels safe and accepted at school.
I #standwithKeaton. Do you?