I am sure you are all aware of the video of Keaton Jones doing the rounds on social media the last few days. If not then you will have likely seen news reports on it. I have deliberately chosen not to share it in this post – for reasons I hope will become clear, Indeed, I was reluctant to use his picture as well, but I know some of you will have come to this post because you have seen that picture, and in some ways it is those of you that have done exactly that with whom I want to talk to now.
From the moment I first saw said video, I was concerned. The longer things have gone on the more concerned I have become. Initially, I considered sharing the video, but I then realised I didn’t know enough about the story to warrant me doing so, and actually when I started looking into it, I realised – and this is not unusual – the story is far more complicated than you’d first expect. More on that later.
What I would like to ask you is this; what message are you sending by sharing this video? I’m sure most of you will be saying that you are standing in solidarity with Keaton, and I actually want to commend you for that. But did you realise you could be sending out a more dangerous message, and a message to someone closer to home? Statistically speaking we all will know somebody who is currently the target of bullies, whether we realise it or not. By sharing this video could easily send the complete opposite message to the one you would want to be sending. Let’s say the person in your life who is the target of bullies has been so for a month, They will have spent that month trying to communicate to someone – communicate even to you – that they are being bullied – believe me, trying to communicate this is extremely difficult, and as adults we need to become better at picking up the cues, but that’s for another time. If the person in your life has been failing to communicate to you, they may interpret the sharing of the video of Keaton as you care more about him than them. It is very easy to jump on board the zeitgeist, but it is very important not to.
Though it is very kind, I also worry about the amount of attention Keaton has received from celebrities. There are 3.2 million targets of bullying worldwide – more than 145,000 in the UK. with one getting preferential treatment just because a video his mum shot happened to grab the attention of celebrities doesn’t mean his cause is worthier than the other 3.2 million. But being invited to meet Justin Beiber, or invited to attend the premiere of the latest Avengers movie by Captain America himself sends exactly that message. It also sets Keaton up for a fall. in a few weeks – less than that given is being the festive season – the world will have moved on from Keaton, it always does, and with it any love and adulation he receives – ultimately he is not a celebrity himself. Keaton undoubtedly needs love, but that ultimately need to come from his actual everyday community, for that is the only place love can be sustained. I do worry for Keaton in this matter. My advice to celebrities who are rightfully moved by Keaton’s tale would be, yes encourage Keaton in someway, but maybe ask an anti-bullying organisation to put together a group of bullied kids and teens who can all be gifted a meet and greet with Bieber or the Avengers, that would send out a stronger message that bullying is wrong.
Ultimately, as I promised, we must discuss the complexities of the case. It has been reported today that Keaton’s mum may have said some racist things herself – which kind of defeats what Keaton was trying to communicate in this video – filmed by his mum. Now if this is true then there are definitely some questions that need to be asked, what I have hated however is that due to this accusation, people have turned on Keaton – which is kind of Ironic in itself. The simple fact is that all of these cases – all 3.2 million of them will be complex beasts, so complex that social media will fail to represent them properly. So, it is always wise to reserve judgement.
I have urged people on Facebook not to share Keaton’s video, and I repeat that urge here. By all means, been moved and affected by it, but please instead of sharing one boys misery, use it as an opportunity to make an impact in the lives of the targets of bullying in your world – they deserve it as much as Keaton does.
Founder & CEO
Strength Restored is Tom’s baby. Born out of 8 years of being the target of bullies, Tom’s heart burns with a passion for seeing the lives of anyone touched by bullying turned around. Tom started working with children when he was only eleven himself, he then expanded into working with young people too, back in 2003. Tom has had the luck of being able to see bullying from all its angles, for not only was he the target of bullying, he also worked as a teaching assistant for a time, and so saw it from the teacher’s point of view too. All this experience has helped him construct Strength Restored, and truly he believes it could make a real impact.