PARENTS REACT TO KEATON JONES BULLYING CONTROVERSY


♪ (industrial music) ♪ – (Keaton) Just out of curiosity,
why do they bully? – Keaton. – Is this the controversial
little boy about the bullying? – (Keaton) Why do you
find joy in taking innocent people and finding a way
to be mean to ’em? – I have complicated feelings
about this video. – (Kim) What did they say to you? – (Keaton) They make fun
of my nose. They call me ugly. They say I have no friends.
– Oh my god. – (Kim) What’d they
do to you at lunch? – (Keaton) Pour milk on me
and put my ham down my clothes. – He’s gonna make me cry. – Where’s the frickin’ teachers
in the cafeteria? It pisses me off
as a teacher. – (Keaton) Is it just you? – (Keaton) Yup.
– Aww. – It’s tough to see
this kid so upset. – (Keaton) …other kids too. – (Kim) How’s that make you feel? – (Keaton) Why do they
do it to me? I’m not sure why didn’t they do it
to other people, ’cause it’s not okay.
– (softly) It’s not okay. – (Keaton) People
that are different don’t need to be
criticized about it. – Aww. It hurts my heart.
I got so bullied in middle school. – God, man.
– (Keaton) If you are made fun of, just don’t let it bother you.
Stay strong, I guess. – Yeah, you go for it. Stay strong. – (Keaton) But it’ll probably
get better one day. – Oh my gosh.
It’s difficult to watch as a mom and also as a child
that was ridiculed a lot. – The very first time
that I saw that, I was furious
and heartbroken. – That’s a tough video
to watch, and then it gets
even more complicated the more you know
about the history of that family. – My heart of course
goes out to the kid. You know, bullying
is definitely not okay. But there’s so many,
you know what I mean, kids who are bullied
outside of that, you know what I mean,
that don’t get that type of attention.
– (FBE) So that video came from Tennessee
middle schooler, Keaton Jones and was uploaded by his mother
on December 8th. How did you feel
when you first watched it? – I think he was
going through a lot, man. – You could tell
he’s hurtin’. – Sadly, it’s what a lot of kids
go through every single day. So many teachers shut their doors,
or when they’re walking through the halls, their heads
are in their phones, or they’re not looking around.
I’m the biggest a-hole on campus, because I’m calling everybody out
for their stuff, ’cause I was bullied as a kid. – He was trying to voice–
be the voice of the voiceless. It’s touching, and I’m glad
that he can talk to his mom about it. – He’s trying to understand
why this world is so [bleep] up. It’s more tough when the child is–
which is really why I can’t help it, you know, to cry
because some of us dealt with it in a different way, you know?
I’ve been bullied, but I responded the wrong way.
I responded with violence. And that didn’t
lead me anywhere, you know? It led me to bad friends
and a bad lifestyle. He chose not to respond
with violence. – My heart went out
to Keaton for sure, because you know,
nobody wants to be bullied. It is not okay.
He’s thinking about others outside of just himself. – As a police officer,
for a little stint, I worked in community relations. So I work directly
with small children. One of the kids came up
to me and he said– he came up to me, bawling,
saying that he is being bullied so bad that–
it’s hard for me to talk about, ’cause I picture it, his face.
But he said that he has to spend his lunches
in the bathroom. And so, I gave him
my phone number, and I said, “Hey,
if you ever need anything, you tell people
that your best friend is a police officer,
and that if they have a problem with you,
they have a problem with me.” – (FBE) Within days of the upload,
it went crazy viral with huge messages of support
for Keaton from the general public but also from celebrities
like Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber, Lebron James,
and even Chris Evans, who invited Keaton
to the next red carpet premiere of the Avengers.
What are your thoughts on having celebrities rally around
these types of social issues? – Well, they should. You know,
they have a huge influence. – You see these little glimmers
of hope for social media and the good that
it can do, and you’re like, “Oh my gosh,
this poor little kid. He went through
this horrible event,” but now people are made
a little more aware, and celebrities are
using their platform to make other people aware. – I would want– I think
it would be more special for the police department
to stand up for him for them to make
an appearance at the school, things like that.
Not these one-time things. He needs a connection
to someone in his neighborhood. He doesn’t need a connection
to these celebrities, to these professional wrestlers.
I know they reached out to him too. He needs it with his community. – (FBE) But not long after
all this attention, this turned into a controversy.
People found Kimberly, Keaton’s mom’s Facebook page,
where they found pictures of the family posing
with Confederate flags and posts that some
have called racially insensitive. – Gosh, man.
That’s tough. Your kid went through
this horrible thing, but the internet’s vicious,
and they’re gonna go dig through all of the stuff,
and they can do it. People are really good at that. – It’s not a black
and white situation. I can feel compassion for them, and I can feel disdain
for their opinions. – (FBE) There were also
several GoFundMe pages that started to
pop up for the family, which led some people to believe
that the family was getting money out of the situation.
– Trying to get money. They tryin’ to scam it,
you know what I mean, GoFundMe pages.
Plenty of people are doing it. – (FBE) People started
turning on the family, and now it seems
that the GoFundMe pages weren’t created
by anyone in the family. – Oh my god. (chuckles) – (FBE) On top of that,
there was even a rumor that still remains
completely unconfirmed that Keaton was being bullied
for saying a racial slur to his classmates, and people
believed it just from reading it with no proof.
– I was about to say that. It’s easier to blame someone,
you know, but without facts, you can’t do anything, man. – That’s how the internet works.
We have to get used to that. I feel like it’s
this mob mentality. – (FBE) Recently, it also
came out that his estranged father seems to be a white supremacist,
but the family claims they have no contact
with him anymore. – Oh my god. – (FBE) There was almost
a complete 180 about how the general public
felt about the situation. What do you make of all this
hearing it now? – That sounds, at least to me,
they’re talking about adult issues when the issue
is about this child. – If you’re just watching that,
you’re gonna be like, “Aw, man, this kid
is being bullied? Oh, man. I feel so bad.”
And then when you find out the mom is, you know,
the Confederate flag, might be a racist on the low,
low-key, you know what I mean, now you’re like, “Whoa.”
Now everybody takin’ a step back. Back in the day, when you
wanted to get a story, you had to go verify a story. Nowadays, ain’t nobody
verifyin’ nothin’ no more. – We, as a society,
need to stop connecting and over-connecting pieces together.
Bullying is one problem, and whatever his family issues
is another problem. – (FBE) Have you or your kids
had any direct experience with bullying?
– Yeah, actually, my daughter who’s 16, she was bullied
when she was back in elementary school.
Then you’ve got cyberbullying. I couldn’t imagine.
You know, we’ve got cyberbullying. And nowadays, kids
are being bullied, and kids are killing themselves
from being bullied, you know what I mean?
So it’s a terrible thing, man. – I don’t normally wear
shorts or dresses or skirts, because I have a scar on my leg
from when a group seventh grade boys tried to throw me
in the trashcan. Looking back, I don’t remember
ever telling my teachers about it or my parents about it.
We just didn’t talk about it. – Look at this nose.
This is a beautiful, long, big nose.
I get bullied for it all the time. My son, he’s one and a half.
We’re already encouraging him to be loving and caring.
I want him to be a protector. I don’t him to be a victim.
I don’t want him to be a bully. I’m going to give him the tools
and the confidence to know that words don’t mean anything
and to find a way to have happiness in his life. – (FBE) So before we go on,
Keaton’s mom, with all this hate
coming her way, recently did some interviews
on some news programs, so we’re gonna show you a clip
from CBS News in which Keaton and his mom
address the viral videos and the trouble
surrounding it. – Oh. Okay, that will be great.
I didn’t hear about that, so I’m very interested to know. – (voiceover) Keaton Jones
says he has been targeted by five fellow middle schoolers. – (interviewer) You never
complained to a teacher? You never complained to a principal? – (Keaton) No.
– (interviewer) Because? – Oh, dude.
– (Keaton) I was afraid that they would for sure… attack.
– It’s… tough. – (voiceover) Kim Jones,
the 11-year-old’s mother, was behind the camera
and posted the video to her Facebook.
– (Kim) I knew that it could be great, and I knew that it could be awful.
– Yeah, it’s hard to know the right thing. – (Kim) It has been.
– (voiceover) The spotlight on Keaton also cast attention
onto Kim’s prior social media posts, including this one,
where she’s holding a Confederate flag.
– Cannot go and bully a woman’s child,
just because she’s wearing a freakin’ Confederate flag. – (voiceover) …where she’s
holding a Confederate flag. – Not a good look. – Jesus, take the wheel. – (Kim chuckles) The only
two photos, the ONLY two photos
on my entire planet that I am anywhere
near a Confederate flag. – Girl, that’s all
we needed. (laughs) Even if it’s just one! – (Kim) I’ve said I spent
most of my life being bullied and judged
because I wasn’t racist. – (sighs in frustration)
– (interviewer) Did the video make you feel better?
– It made me feel like I had accomplished
something real, something that could
actually change the world. – He took his power
back a little bit. It’s trying to equate things that
should not even be compared. – Don’t put this kid
on the spot like that. He’s a kid.
– She’s gotta live under a rock if she doesn’t know that that picture incites people
to believe she’s a racist. – She wasn’t expecting
the backlash that she got so quickly from being found out
about her shadiness. She’s trying to save face and that’s
what she was trying to do. – You cannot place blame
on a kid from the community they come from,
the family they come from. We have a kid
who was hurt really badly, and we need to take care of that. – (FBE) Back to the topic
of bullying, as a parent, you are raising kids
in what might be the first age of social media being an element in growing up.
– Yes. – (FBE) How much is
the issue of bullying something you think about
when raising kids in today’s age? – The whole time.
I’m speaking on behalf of the teachers in my school.
We all care about our students. I would be in the classroom,
hear about things, and I’m like, “Did my kid
go through this? Is he going through it?
Was he bullying somebody?” – It definitely comes down
to parenting, okay? You gotta know
what’s going on with your kid’s life.
You gotta ask them questions. I don’t care if you mad at me,
’cause, you know, guess what? I’m your mama.
I’m not your friend. If you have children,
you have to be in it. You have to pay attention.
You have to be present. – I now work on the other side
where I do have to deal with that in a middle school situation
and it’s just incessant. And social media has just
taken it to the next level. – My kids, we limit a lot
of what they can do online just to safeguard them,
because we don’t want them getting mixed up
in everything else. But they are surrounded by it,
so it’s about having those conversations with them
about, you know, being smart with what they post. – I think social media
shines a spotlight on this. And it gets parents and teachers
and activists engaged on ways to stop it.
And we have anti-bullying seminars now,
and it is an open discussion that we’re all having,
and that is a wonderful thing. – (FBE) So finally,
with all this attention, both good and bad,
it’s possible that some people are losing sight
of the primary issue here. So what would you say
to Keaton and any other kids out there that are going
through similar struggles/ What can they do to better handle
both being bullied and growing up
around social media? – You know, I think
Keaton, he is probably stronger than he realizes. And most kids really are
stronger than they realize. – Tell somebody. I mean,
that’s the biggest thing. Don’t sit in silence,
because that is even worse than probably the bullying itself,
’cause you know how you get in your mind.
And so, tell somebody. Tell a friend even that could
pass along the message. – If you see someone being bullied,
reach out to them. Take the time maybe later on
to say, “Hey, how are you doing?” or “Do you wanna sit
with us at lunch?” We have to advocate for each other. – I can tell you right now,
as a police officer, we love to help out
with kids getting bullied. Find people in your community
that will support you for who you are. – If you feel that there’s something
that’s hurting you, find a teacher that you can trust,
and I’m definitely sure that they are gonna
find ways to help you. And I want you to feel strong.
I want you to have the courage, and I want you to speak up
just like how Keaton spoke up.