Mother of bullied US boy defends 'racist' photos

The mother behind a video of her son crying about the bullying he'd suffered at school has been forced to defend her family, after troubling photos of them emerged.

Kimberly Jones posted a video on Friday, which showed her emotional son Keaton tearfully recounting the abuse he faced at school. After being posted online, the video quickly went viral.

Celebrities in their droves came out in support of Keaton - including the likes of Justin Bieber, Chris Evans and Snoop Dogg - but then a number of Ms Jones' more disturbing images began to emerge.

Putting a dampener on what was emerging as one of the feel-good stories of the year, the photos showed Ms Jones and others members of the family posing with Confederate flags - controversial, as the Confederate symbol is closely tied to America's racist history.

Mother of bullied US boy defends 'racist' photos
Photo credit: Facebook / Kimberly Jones

In an interview with ABC's Good Morning America, Ms Jones admitted the photos were real but claimed they were intended to be perceived as "ironic and funny and extreme".

"I am genuinely sorry. If I could take it back, I would," she said.

"If [people] want to hate me or whatever, that's fine. But still, talk to your kids, because this is an epidemic."

While many have taken back their support of the family, others say Keaton shouldn't be judged for the photos as he is still just a child.

Despite that, a fundraising page set up for Keaton that had raised more than US$58,000 (NZ$83,730) has been suspended after the images emerged.