New research shows kids who are bullied do worse in school. Sean Dowling (@seandowlingtv) has more.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Keaton Jones has a lot of new friends.
Among them: UFC President Dana White, Captain America actor Chris Evans, Dr. Phil, Millie Bobby Brown aka “Eleven” from Stranger Things, Fox News host Sean Hannity, rapper Snoop Dogg, a slew of professional athletes in various sports, and countless people on the Internet, apparently.
Keaton, a student at Horace Maynard Middle School in Maynardville in Union County, Tenn., sparked a national conversation about bullying after a video of him went viral over the weekend.
Keaton’s mother, Kimberly Jones, filmed him crying in the passenger seat of a vehicle after she said she picked him up from school “AGAIN” because he was afraid to go to lunch. “Keaton asked to do this,” Jones wrote in a Facebook post.
In the video, Keaton said other students made fun of the way he looks, poured milk on him, put ham down his clothes and said he had no friends.
“People that are different don’t need to be criticized about it,” Keaton said. “It’s not their fault. But if you are made fun of, just don’t let it bother you. Stay strong I guess. It’s hard. But it’ll probably get better one day.”
That day might just be today.
As of Sunday evening, Keaton’s video had more than 18.5 million views and had been shared more than 369,000 times on Facebook. His message resonated with an eclectic mix of celebrities, who responded by condemning bullying, sharing their own experiences and lauding Keaton for his courage.
Jones nor Union County school officials could be reached for comment.
Jarrett Guarantano, a University of Tennessee Vols quarterback, tweeted a picture with his “new best bud” on Sunday evening.
“So I got the chance to spend the day with my new best bud Keaton,” Guarantano wrote. “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.”
Dana White said he wants to bring Keaton to Las Vegas to hang out at UFC headquarters. In a video posted to the official UFC Twitter account, various fighters spoke about bullying and offered words of support to Keaton.
In a tweet, the president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., called Keaton “incredibly brave” and said he “would be honored” to host Keaton and his family if they take White up on his offer.
Chris Evans invited Keaton and his mom to the premiere of the new Avengers movie in Los Angeles next year.
Sean Hannity said he wants to fly Keaton and his parents to New York City to visit Fox News.
Walking Dead actor Tom Payne invited Keaton to a “Walker Stalker Con” show in Nashville.
The outpouring of support went on and on.
Follow Travis Dorman on Twitter: @travdorman