Last week, a Tennessee woman named Kimberly Jones posted a video of her son Keaton online. It went mega-viral.
The video, which has been viewed on Facebook more than 20 million times since posting, shows Keaton in tears over being bullied at school. There’s a sense of despair and helplessness in his voice that no child should have to feel, but too many have.
“Just out of curiosity, why do they bully?” a distraught Keaton asks his mom. “What’s the point of it? Why do they find joy in taking innocent people and finding a way to be mean to them?”
The video clearly resonated with people — some who have been bullied, some who have been the bully — and within hours, words of support began to roll in from around the world, including some notes from some high profile people.
Hollywood has Keaton’s back.
Avengers Chris Evans and Mark Ruffalo came up big for the little guy.
Stay strong, Keaton. Don’t let them make you turn cold. I promise it gets better. While those punks at your school are deciding what kind of people they want to be in this world, how would you and your mom like to come to the Avengers premiere in LA next year? https://t.co/s1QwCQ3toi
— Chris Evans (@ChrisEvans) December 10, 2017
As did Eleven from “Stranger Things,” offering her friendship.
The delightful Tom Cavanagh of “The Flash” voiced his support for Jones and against bullies everywhere.
Same with Beth Behrs of “Two Broke Girls.”
He got some love from members of “The Walking Dead” cast.
Hey #KeatonJones Just saw your video about the tough time you’re going through. Not sure if you’re a Walking Dead fan but if it happens that you are then please be in touch as I would love to see you and your family @WalkrStalkrCon show in Nashville next year. On me. X
— Tom Payne (@justanactor) December 10, 2017
My dude. Lotta folks got your back. Me included. I’ll come down and have a chat with anybody getting on your nerves. You’re awesome my man. Be strong. Always. You will win because you are the better man. Believe that. Xojd
— Jeffrey Dean Morgan (@JDMorgan) December 10, 2017
Even Gaston and LeFou (a couple of fiction’s most famous bullies) weren’t having it.
Broadway star Ben Platt offered a few words of support.
Keaton- your vulnerability, honesty and emotional intelligence already show how much more powerful, valuable, unique and human you are than any of the bullies you talked about. I have no doubt it will get better and we will all do our part to make sure it does. We love you. https://t.co/JN9hCU49pY
— Ben Platt (@BenSPLATT) December 10, 2017
And so did voice actors Susan Eisenberg and Kevin Conroy, who provided the voices for Wonder Woman and Batman, respectively, on the animated “Justice League” TV show.
“Coco” director Lee Unkrich and “Ghostbusters” mastermind Paul Feig stepped up.
Keaton, you are an amazing kid, a beautiful unique person. You are one thousand times better than any bully. You are right that it will get better one day. You will thrive. Keep learning, stay positive, laugh at how small-minded they are & keep being yourself. @STOMPOutBullyng https://t.co/1rjbarEYDO
— Paul Feig (@paulfeig) December 11, 2017
Some of the biggest stars in professional sports showed up, as well.
LeBron James called bullies “straight up wack, corny, cowards, chumps.”
Cubs slugger Anthony Rizzo and Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen both offered words of kindness and comfort.
Former Green Bay Packers cornerback Bernard Blake urged Jones to “never be ashamed of who you are.” Former NFL star Antonio Cromartie stepped in to say that bullies are often just insecure about themselves, asking him to be strong.
Keaton you are a handsome young man who is made in the image God. The kids that bully you are very insecure about themselves. And it’s a shame that the parents of those kids won’t be accountable for their kids actions. Keaton Jones I’m here for you buddy. Be Strong young man
— ANTONIO CROMARTIE (@CRO31) December 10, 2017
Former NFL wide receiver Donté Stallworth urged caution for people suggesting that the bullies be confronted with hostility, asking people who really want to make a difference to try to do it through lessons of love.
We all know kids can be little shits at times—especially when it’s a group of them. We have to teach them to be better people as well through love and leading by example. They are kids, they can change their behavior through love.
— Donté Stallworth (@DonteStallworth) December 9, 2017
“Bullying is bullshit,” summed up World Cup champion Ali Krieger. “We need to start coming together, supporting each other and most importantly, standing up for beautiful kids in this world like Keaton.”
Similarly, the music world had words of encouragement and support for Jones.
Demi Lovato predicted that Jones would come out of this experience much stronger than he entered it. Enrique Iglesias called the video “heartbreaking.”
“This extremely raw and real moment has brought hope and truth to so many people,” wrote Kevin Jonas. Nickelback called Jones “a brave young man,” asking if there was anything the band could do for them.
Keaton jones you are a hero. This extremely raw and real moment has brought hope and truth to so many people. Be you and be forever fearless. Never give up. You are loved!
— kevin jonas (@kevinjonas) December 10, 2017
Justin Bieber and Snoop Dogg posted words of support on Instagram. “The fact that he still has the sympathy and compassion for other people when he’s going through it himself is a testament to who he is,” said Bieber.
Anti-bullying activists, models, and YouTube sensations all got in on the act as well.
Monica Lewinsky offered a few kind words, saying that she’s sorry Jones is being treated this way, saying that other kids “would be lucky to be friends with [Jones].”
Model Mia Kang said Jones is her “absolute hero,” offering to fly out and visit him at school for lunch.
Logan Paul offered to chat with Jones on FaceTime and send some gear his way.
Politicians across the political spectrum offered words of kindness and courage.
Senator Bob Corker (R-Tennessee) thanked the young man for his courage, and Representative Joe Kennedy III (D-Massachusetts) asked others to look to Jones as a positive example.
Responding to an offer from UFC head Dana White to visit the organization’s headquarters, Donald Trump Jr. offered the Jones family a place to stay. Jane O’Meara Sanders of the Sanders Institute urged action over platitudes, calling on the country to “stand up to bullies — in our schools and communities, on social media and in politics and the White House.”
This boy is incredibly brave and the video really got to me. @danawhite, If he takes you up on your offer to see UFC Headquarters, I would be honored to host him and his family at our place if they need somewhere to stay. https://t.co/EWx05o0yI0
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) December 11, 2017
💔 It will only “get better someday” if we ALL stand up to bullies – in our schools & communities, on social media & in politics & the White House. Keaton & every other child, teen & adult deserves to be defended against aggression. Please speak up. 💔 https://t.co/JCMPsaBjMd
— Jane O’Meara Sanders (@janeosanders) December 10, 2017
Media personalities joined the chorus with offers of support and workplace tours.
Jemele Hill and Sean Hannity offered Jones and his family tours of ESPN and Fox News, respectively. NBC’s Stephanie Ruhle pointed to Jones as a motivation for a more honest, brave, and kind world.
Hey Keaton, unfortunately you aren’t alone. A lot of kids are bullied, but they will be so uplifted by your courage. You’re a hero, young man. You are treasured and valued. Let me know if you’d ever like to visit ESPN. You can be my special guest. https://t.co/N8mkUTYnEy
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) December 11, 2017
If someone can get to me the name of the school, the principal, school board members i will gladly make the calls myself and fix this. Also if anyone knows Keaton and his parents, i will gladly fly them to NYC to be my guest & visit Fox News. https://t.co/uFyp2r2Yn7
— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) December 10, 2017
HLN’s S.E. Cupp shared a story about being bullied as a child, saying, “It’s got nothing to do with you and everything to do with them.” Sunny Hostin, from “The View,” ended with a reminder that “being different makes you special.”
It’s wonderful to see so many people, from so many backgrounds, come together in support of this one boy.
It’s worth remembering, however, that he’s not the only child in the world being bullied.
According to StopBullying.gov, 28% of U.S. students in grades 6 through12 have experienced bullying. 30% of students have admitted to being a bully to others. School bullying creates a hostile environment not conducive to learning and puts students’ physical, emotional, and mental health at risk.
If Keaton Jones’ story inspired you to take action, check out the StopBullying prevention toolkits for students, parents, teachers, and community members.