Tennessee boy filmed as example of bullying’s impact

Keaton Jones called his mother to pick him up at school the other day. He was afraid to go to lunch where, he says, kids poured milk on him, threw bread at him, and put ham down his shirt.

A lot of parents have had a kid crying in the car because of things just like this. They struggle to say the right thing and pretty much can only give their kid a hug.

Keaton’s mother did one other thing: she turned on her cellphone camera. She posted it on Saturday.

Famous people reached out to the young man on Sunday, including members of the Tennessee Volunteers football squad.

Tomorrow, members of the team will go to Keaton’s school for a little talk.

Maybe it’ll work. Maybe kids will take a step back and reconsider how they treat each other.

Or maybe the other kids will smell blood in the water.

  • Al

    I tell my daughter to intervene if she sees bullying, to ignore and walk away if she gets bullied. The cynic in me says this isn’t just blood in the water; it’s full-on chum for this poor kid. I don’t think I’d put a video of my kid online in this way.

    • Al

      (Please, world, prove me wrong. *fingers crossed*)

    • Mike

      I share your trepidation about this strategy. I’ll give the parent the benefit of the doubt, but I don’t know that it’s best to broadcast someone’s most vulnerable moments to the world.

      • I had a kid who was bullied out of school. I made it worse by getting involved on his behalf.

        • Joseph

          What happened? How did you getting involved make things worse? 🙁

          • I can’t really get too specific because of privacy and everything but once it got around school that I was informed and had talked to parents, it was open season on the kid. The school — Lake Jr. High in Woodbury — was of no help because they were “Wedgewood people” — the rich kids/parents. So the assistant principal’s response was to tell us we should move our kid to another school instead of the one that was , basically, at the end of our street.

          • Joseph

            Wow, that is horrible. So sorry your family had to go through that.

          • Knute

            Anything you can share on what you would have done differently, knowing what you know now?

          • What I personally would have done? Geez, where I do I start? My kids are grown now and I spend most of my time regretting the things I didn’t do and the things I did. It’s a long list. I think the first step would’ve been to relax a little bit more and let whatever was to happen happen.

            Also, I would be better at drywall repair.

        • Mike

          I’m genuinely sorry to hear that, and that is my exact concern about actions like this one. It’s a mystery to me how social media has convinced people to surrender large swaths of their personal privacy. I say this as someone who is not on Facebook, Instagram, etc.

          I also think it’s ethically problematic to post something like this when the subject is a child, who cannot legally give consent. I understand the mom’s desire to help her son, but this kind of exhibitionism can backfire horribly.

        • Al

          Bob, I’m really sorry to hear that, for you and for your child.

    • Kassie

      I feel like when that kid is looking for a job in 15-20 years, that video is going to pop up. Maybe that will be helpful for him and maybe it will be hurtful, but either way, this is going to be with this kid every time he is googled for the rest of his life. Parents need to remember that when they post things.

      • Al

        YES. We can’t assume our children will want the same level of participation (or non-participation) in social media as we do. Our children are not extensions of ourselves; they’re distinct human beings with their own thoughts, feelings, and rights.

  • Mike Worcester

    //Tomorrow, members of the team will go to Keaton’s school for a little talk.

    I hope the “talk” includes adults in the building as they certainly do have a role in dealing with bullying — though at times I wonder how many of them still have that obnoxious “kids will be kids; they just need to toughen up a little” attitude. That really does not help matters.

  • fromthesidelines21

    I think a whole all school(s) viewing of the new movie “Wonder” would be a useful tool to discuss bullying. Asking what characters they identified with or see themselves could lead to some interesting discussions. Of course bullying isn’t limited to schools.

    • mnboy67

      Just saw this over the weekend, excellent movie and a pretty good example of one way to deal with bullying.

  • RBHolb

    Parents are a big part of the problem, but I’m thinking of the parents of the bullies. How many of them are going to laugh this off, and call Keaton a “snowflake” who just can’t take normal horseplay? “Why, we did stuff like that all the time! We didn’t go crying to our mommies!” All the lectures, all the videos, all the colorful posters in the world are powerless against that kind of influence.
    A few years ago, a 12-year old student at a ritzy public high school put up a very mean-spirited video about another student. The school district suspended her, and her father sued, saying she shouldn’t be disciplined for something that happened outside of school. They won, and were even reimbursed for their attorney’s fees. About that video? Well, dad said it wasn’t a nice thing to do, and he scolded his daughter. The video, however, stayed up as a “public service,” so the world could see the kind of things that get you suspended from school in Beverly Hills.
    Lesson learned, I’m sure.

    • In my case, when i talked to the parents, I was pretty much laughed out of the house and was never even able to get in to the second house of those involved.

      One of the parents ended up on the school board.

      • KenB

        What you’ve written sounds like excellent reasons to avoid Woodbury at all costs.

        Or have things improved?

        • Bullying is everywhere. There is no animal so vicious as the American teenager.

  • Veronica

    We had a discussion about being a spectator to bullying in my house last week. The kids told me that they are being taught that being a bystander and not doing anything is almost as bad as being the bully. We talked about how adults bully each other too, and that I, at least, call out bad behavior as I see it.

    Their schools seem to do what they can to take bad behavior seriously.

    I was also at a academic competition 2 weeks ago with my son, and one of his classmates ‘ dad was there. We’ve never had issues with the son, but dad’s swaggering and running off his mouth has me concerned for the boy’s future.

    Ultimately, we can only get rid of abusive behavior from kids and adults alike by calling it out and correcting it every single time we see it. Change can and will happen.

  • Captain America is living up to his name.


  • Postal Customer

    A friend of ours emphatically told us to inform her if her daughter ever bullied anybody. But then I thought, well, your kid will probably never do that.

    Bob had problems with bullies’ parents. Well, those parents are probably bullies, and they won’t take too kindly to somebody calling their kids bullies too. They’re jerks and they know it — you had the audacity to come along and remind them of that fact. They’ve basically failed as parents, but instead of fixing the situation, they lash out. That’s all they know how to do.

    The parents who want to hear about it don’t have bullies for kids.

    How old is the kid in this video? 12? My god, we need to close all schools that have kids 12 to 14. Home-school everyone of that age! Our society would be better off.
    Sequester the kids and nobody gets hurt.

  • Postal Customer

    Keaton will be relieved to know that strangers on the internet are “spreading love.”

  • AmiSchwab

    eloquent kid.

  • Kassie

    Seems mom is using this to raise money, and may be racist on top of it. https://thegrapevine.theroot.com/he-went-viral-because-of-bullying-but-keaton-jones-mot-1821184917

  • crystals