OPINION: How Many Keaton Jones’ Will It Take To Change Attitudes To Bullying?

Bullying has once again become a discussion topic worldwide after a heartbreaking video of young Keaton Jones explaining how he is picked on at school was posted and shared millions of times.

The young Tennessee boy spoke to his mother filming, saying how bullies at his school poured milk on him, put ham down his clothes and made fun of him by calling him ugly and saying how he had no friends.

Even more poignantly, Keaton asks his mother simple, innocent and more importantly valid questions such as “why do they bully?” and “what’s the point of it?”.

danawhite on Twitter: “Meet Keaton Jones a very smart little boy who is being bullied at school. This video is heartbreaking!! I want to bring Keaton to Vegas and hang out at UFC Headquarters. If anyone knows how i can reach the family please let me know. Thank u everyone pic.twitter.com/BR8c4ldDFc / Twitter”

Meet Keaton Jones a very smart little boy who is being bullied at school. This video is heartbreaking!! I want to bring Keaton to Vegas and hang out at UFC Headquarters. If anyone knows how i can reach the family please let me know. Thank u everyone pic.twitter.com/BR8c4ldDFc

Through the power of the internet, hundreds of celebrities and high-profile figures including the likes of Justin Bieber, Katy Perry and Chris Brown have reached out to Keaton for support.

Among the generous gestures made to Keaton include Chris Evans inviting him to the premiere of the new Avengers movie, UFC President Dana White asking him to come out to the UFC’s headquarters to hang out and Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker tight inviting Keaton and his family to their game versus the Jacksonville Jaguars on New Year’s Eve.

These are all fantastic gestures and Keaton Jones deserves everything that he has been given. This piece isn’t to make light of the good these people are doing and how Keaton is entitled to all of the happiness that will come from it, given what he has gone through.

We must not forget a few pertinent points though when discussing this issues, mainly that Keaton Jones is only one boy; one boy that has now become the face of millions of children like him treated this way.

Between 1 in 3 and 1 and 4 school children in the United States say they have been bullied, with hundreds more children even taking their own lives as a result of this abuse.

One only needs to look at the fictional tale of 13 Reasons Why and the media snowstorm that caused upon its release, or the real life case of adult actress August Ames taking her own life as a suspected result of abuse she received online.

No one was offering to bring August, real name Mercedes Grabowski, on any trips though. Again, I’m not trying to say Keaton Jones didn’t deserve this, only we need to take a long, hard look at how we look at bullying in society today.

Chris Brown, lest us not forget, the same person who is being acknowledged for standing in solidarity with Keaton is the same Chris Brown has one of the most notable histories of domestic abuse in Hollywood.

Dana White, despite the numerous charitable things he has done for children in the past, has been accused several times for bullying fighters and verbally abusing referees, fans etc.

NFL players have rightfully come out to support Keaton, but this is the same organisation that has been noted as being predominantly homophobic since the league’s inception.

Unfortunately, the outpouring of support for this young bullying victim is as hypocritical as it is heartwarming. For every boy like Keaton, hundreds of thousands mores are experiencing the same and being ignored.

These gestures, these acts of kindness will go a long way to helping Keaton but who or what is helping the rest of our world’s excluded children, teenagers and adults.

Before Keaton Jones, the last person to receive such sympathy for what they went through at the hands of schoolyard bullies was a fictional character.

There’s no simple answer to solving the epidemic of bullying. There are hundreds of reasons why kids might bully other kids, and there are probably problems behind these reasons that also need to be examined and fixed.

If celebrities want to be a part of the solutions, tweets of support and grandiose gestures will deservedly help Keaton, but bullying will remain apart of our culture and apart of a lot of celebrities actions.

Then, it will be swept under the rug and talked only about at family dinner tables and principal’s offices until the next viral video comes along.

To reiterate, I hope Keaton Jones has the time of his life at the UFC headquarters, at the Avenger’s premiere and at the Tennessee Titans football games, for his own sake.

Let’s just hope that when the next Keaton Jones comes along, we can have a discussion about how to stop the bullying in the first place, not just about how we glue together the broken pieces afterwards.

Better yet, let’s hope the next Keaton Jones doesn’t come along in the first place, because as he says himself “people who are different don’t need to be criticised about it.”

Daniel O’Connor


If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this letter please contact Samaritans helpline 116 123 or Aware helpline 1800 80 48 48 or Pieta House on 1800 247 247

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