NEW ORLEANS -- A Tennessee middle-schooler's emotional Facebook video, recorded after he was bullied, captured national attention this week.
But, the boy's mother was quickly criticized and motives for posting the video called into question after other posts surfaced showing her and her son with confederate flags.
Despite the backlash, the boy's anti-bullying message rings clear.
We showed this gut-wrenching video to a group of seniors and juniors at the International High School in New Orleans.
In it, Keaton Jones, 11, from Tennessee talked about how bullies tormented him at school.
"It's not okay," Jones cried. "People who are different, don't need to be criticized about it because it's not their fault."
It was a lesson in reality for these students, most of whom raised their hands when asked how many of them have witnessed bullying.
"At this day and age, you would hope and expect that people would just accept that people are different," IHS Senior Grace Clark said. "There are a lot of bullies out there who think that they're superior than others or they think that they can't amount to what other people can, so they bash the people that could, down."
Many of these students have been the target of bullying.
IHS Junior Marlen Martinez said people made fun of her weight.
"I wanted to become a cheerleader and people were like no you can't because you're not going to fit into the outfit and stuff like that," Martinez said." I remember going home crying."
Martinez added she has learned how to deal with bullies.
"Nowadays, people say you're fat, I say thank you, at least I eat," Martinez said.
IHS Junior Harlee Cates said he was bulled because she was white in a predominately Hispanic school.
"It hurt my feelings a lot," Cates said. "I didn't really understand why it was happening, but now I just realize they did it because I'm different."
IHS Junior Jose Rosales from Honduras said his first couple of years in the United States were pretty rough.
"Yes, sometimes I have been bullied because of my language because I didn't speak the perfect English or just for who I was," Rosales said.
IHS Senior Grace Clark said people's differenced should be embraced, not criticized.
"It's 2017," Clark said. "People are different all over. There are people with accents. There are people with different skin tones, people with different facial features. Not everyone is going to be the same. That's not something to make fun of someone for."
Experts estimate bullying affects nearly one in three U.S. school children.
Students and others who witness bullying are urged to report it or get help
© 2018 WWL-TV