Keaton Jones, a sixth grader who became a household name on December 8 when a video of him talking about relentless bullying went viral, revealed he has not returned to his Tennessee classroom since his story captured the hearts of millions.
“I actually haven’t been to school,” Keaton said during a Thursday, December 14, satellite appearance on British talk show This Morning. The 11-year-old’s mom, Kimberly Jones, who was seated beside him, chimed in that her son didn’t feel ready to face his peers at Horace Maynard Middle School.
He has maintained the entire time — even when the world wanted to come and eat lunch with him — that he didn’t want to go back to school,”she explained. “After seeing how big [the video] got, it seemed like we should let it die down a bite before we make any decisions.”
Keaton also sent another message to tormentors. “Why do you do that?” he asked. “Why do you bully? What’s the point of it? It makes me feel awful.”
As previously reported, Kimberly filmed Keaton tearfully describing how kids pour milk on him, shove ham down his clothes and call him “ugly.” The footage gained sympathy from celebrities including Chris Evans, Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez and Stranger Things actress Millie Bobby Brown.
But the story took a dark turn after photos surfaced of a smiling Kimberly posing with Confederate flags, a symbol of Southern heritage for some, and hate for others. She faced more criticism when reports began to circulate that she was allegedly using Keaton’s pain for financial gain.
Kimberly has repeatedly denied she is racist. “I’ve said over and over, I’m an adult, I know who I am,” she said on This Morning. “I’m obviously sorry that it has offended so many people, but the backlash to my children . . . That’s something I wouldn’t wish on anybody.”
Two GoFundMe accounts for Keaton — including one that raised $58,000 — have since been shut down.