The Tennessee middle schooler who spoke out against bullying in an emotional, now-viral video is overwhelmed by the support he’s received.
Keaton Jones, of Knoxville, has captivated the Internet after a video uploaded by his mother, Kimberly Jones, showed the boy in tears as he lamented the bullying he’s endured at school.
“Keaton is thrilled to hear from everyone,” a friend of the family tells PEOPLE. “It really means a lot to him.”
Keaton, who attends Horace Maynard Middle School in Maynardville, captured the attention of stars like Rihanna, Chris Evans, Hailee Steinfeld and more with the moving video. In the video shared on Facebook on Friday, Keaton emotionally explained how he was bullied at school.
“They make fun of my nose. They call me ugly. They say I have no friends,” Keaton told his mother in a car with tears in his eyes. He even recalled an incident during lunch when things got physical. He said the bullies “put milk on me and put ham down my clothes, throw bread on me.”
“Just out of curiosity, why do they bully? What’s the point of it?” he asked. “Why do you find joy in taking innocent people and finding a way to be mean to them? It’s not okay.”
The footage quickly amassed millions of views as it spread across the Internet and social media users supported Keaton using the hashtags “#WeLoveKeatonJones” and “#StandWithKeaton.”
In a tweet, one Twitter user, Lakyn Jones, identified herself as Keaton’s sister and in another she wrote, “The support is overwhelmingly (sic)! He is doing good and loving the awareness his video!”
In the wake of the media storm, the school’s principal spoke out about the video.
“It’s not as rampant as the video would have you believe,” Principal Greg Clay told the Knoxville News Sentinel. “I can’t tell you what was done, but I can tell you action was taken with the children.”
Clay said that he was not aware Keaton was being bullied repeatedly and said that the incident Keaton described in the video had been resolved.
As Keaton’s story has consumed headlines, his mother’s Facebook page shed some light on Keaton’s experiences. She reportedly wrote in a post that Keaton was born with a tumor, the Sentinel reports. She also shared the video on the Love What Matters Facebook page.
“Keaton asked to do this AFTER he had me pick him up AGAIN because he was afraid to go to lunch. My kids are by no stretch perfect, and at home, he’s as all boy as they come, but by all accounts he’s good at school,” she wrote in the post.
“Talk to your kids. I’ve even had friends of mine tell me their kids were only nice to him to get him to mess with people. We all know how it feels to want to belong, but only a select few know how it really feels not to belong anywhere.”