Monday, Sep 24, 2018
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Bullying unacceptable no matter the form

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Bullying takes all forms and shapes and colors. And none of it is O.K.

Last weekend, a middle schooler from Knoxville, Tennessee, named Keaton Jones found his moment to make his voice heard after his mom posted a tearful video to her Facebook page. In it, Keaton is talking about being bullied, including having milk poured on his head, ham shoved in his clothes, and bread thrown at him.

Not acceptable.

VIDEO: Keaton Jones goes viral over bullying

But then Monday afternoon, information comes to light where Keaton’s mom, Kimberly, allegedly has made social media posts and had personal correspondence which seem pretty darn racist. And Keaton has been accused of allegedly calling a classmate the N-word, as well.

Not acceptable, either.

I feel awful for Keaton. I was bullied in school; I walked with my toes pointed out and my ears were rather large for my age, which made for easy fodder.

My kids have experienced bullying as well, which is an absolutely helpless feeling. What am I supposed to tell my 9-year-old son? Stick up for yourself ... and get in trouble for fighting? Consider the source ... and he never learns to stand up for himself? Tell an adult ... and have them do nothing about it?

Bullying has ruined too many lives. Here are some sobering statistics — suicide is the third-leading cause of death among young people according to the Center for Disease Control, with victims of bullying being as much as 9 times more likely to consider suicide, according to studies by Yale University. Statistics reported by ABC News shows 160,000 kids stay home from school daily because of bullying.

It’s easy for kids to fall into a habit of being bullies, and it’s often a learned behavior. I don’t think any kid wakes up one day and realizes, “You know what? I’m gonna pick on that one kid who has different skin/eyes/accent than me!” They’ve seen it at home first. If it turns out Kimberly Jones holds racist ideals and has promoted them on social media and privately, it doesn’t take a sleuth to understand where her son could possibly get such ideas.

No matter what you think of Keaton Jones and his family, let’s not lose sight of the good that come from this. We’re all in this together. We need to take care of each other, build up one another and not be agents of destruction.

No matter who, no matter where, no matter when, bullying is something we as adults need to address. And it starts at home.

Contact Jeremy Schneider at jschneider@theblade.com 

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