Keaton Jones, the Tennessee middle school boy who became a household name over the weekend when a video of him talking about the relentless bullying he faces in school went viral, spoke out for the first time Tuesday (Dec. 12). The 11-year-old appeared on CBS This Morning and talked about his daily struggles with abuse at the hands of other students.
The boy said he never complained or talked about the bullying before the video because he was “afraid [the bullies] would for sure attack,” Keaton said. In the video, which had more than 20 million views before his mother set her Facebook account to private, Keaton said in tears he did not want to go back to school because bullies made his life so miserable, which included hurling food at him.
Numerous celebrities and professional athletes took to social media to let the youth know he was not alone and they had his back.
However, the feel-good story hit a snag when it was discovered that his mother had a picture on her Facebook page of herself holding a Confederate flag, which is considered by many to be a racist symbol. Keaton’s sister also had a picture on her social media account with the flag. Keaton’s mother, Kimberly, said the photos were taken out of context.
“The only two photos on the entire planet where I am anywhere near a Confederate flag,” she said. “It was ironic. It was funny. I’ve said I spent most of my life being bullied and judged because I wasn’t racist.” As for the impact his video has had, Keaton said, “[It] made me feel like I had accomplished something real, something that could actually change the world.”
Keaton’s school said there would be an anti-bullying assembly Monday; however, the boy will not return to the school until after the new year.
This article originally appeared on THR.com.