Many reached out in support of Quaden Bayles, who is an Aboriginal Australian born with achondroplasia dwarfism

By Maria Pasquini
February 23, 2020 07:00 PM
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Quaden Bayles
| Credit: Jason McCawley/Getty Images

As support grew for a 9-year-old boy from Australia whose mother posted a video about how he had been bullied at school because of his dwarfism, so did skepticism over the authenticity of his story.

Recently, Quaden Bayles’ mother posted a since-deleted Facebook video of her son in tears as he told his mother he wanted to end his life, CNN reported.

This is what bullying is doing and I want people to know how much this is hurting us as a family,” his mother, Yarraka Bayles, said in the video, which was viewed over 19 million times before it was deleted, according to The New York Times. “This is the impact that bullying has on a 9-year-old kid that just wants to go to school, get an education and have fun.”

As news of the video began to spread online, many celebrities reached out in support of the boy, an Aboriginal Australian born with achondroplasia dwarfism.

“Quaden you are stronger than you know, mate. And no matter what, you’ve got a friend in me,” tweeted actor Hugh Jackman. “So everyone let’s please be kind to each other. Bullying is not okay. Period. Life is hard enough. Let’s just remember every person in front of us is facing some kind of battle. So let’s just be kind.”

What I want you to know is that you have friends, me included,” Walking Dead star Jeffrey Dean Morgan wrote in his own video message. “You have a bunch of friends out here, out in the world that you haven’t met yet who are here and we got your back. You need to know that it’ll get better.”

Brad Williams, an American comedian who also has achondroplasia, set up a GoFundMe page to raise money to send Quaden and his mother to Disneyland.

“I’m setting up this GoFundMe to let Quaden know that bullying will not be tolerated, and that he is a wonderful human being who deserves joy,” he wrote in a description of the fundraiser, which has raised over $460,000 in three days.

“The goal here is to give Quaden the trip of a lifetime and to spend every dollar donated in a responsible way. My hopes are to spotlight the negative effects of bullying so parents and children can learn from this. We can be better,” he wrote on Twitter.

Williams later tweeted, “Money donated will not be wasted! We have a team of people making sure everything is completely legitimate. We thank you for your generosity and patience while we make sure all this is done the right way.“

On Saturday, Quaden was also invited to lead the National Rugby League’s Indigenous All Stars team onto the field ahead of a game against the Maori All Stars.

As he made his way out on the field, Quaden, who wore a pair of headphones, walked hand-in-hand with team captain Joel Thompson.

At a recent news conference, the boy’s mother said her son had gone “from the worst day of his life to the best day of his life,” according to the BBC.

As support for the boy spread across the globe, controversy surrounding Quaden’s story began to grow online, as some called into question his mother’s decision to share the distressing video in the first place. Others wondered whether Quaden was actually much older than his mother claimed, a speculation which fact-finding website Snopes has determined to be false.

Some on Twitter pointed to photos taken from his official Instagram account — which was since deleted — in which Quaden appeared to look older, including one of him posing in front of a light-up “18” sign. According to Snopes, the photo in question was taken at a party for his friend.

Social media users also pointed to a profile for the boy on StarNow, which labeled him as an actor, model and influencer.

Insider.com went on to note that as Quaden and his mother’s social media pages are no longer accessible, many fake profiles have sprung up in their place. The dwarfism awareness group that his mother had previously set up, Stand Tall 4 Dwarfism, also appears to have been deleted.

Critiquing Quaden’s mother’s decision to share the video, one CNN writer noted that “sharing trauma without consent creates the conditions to replicate that trauma long into the future.”

They also pointed out that in addition to making it so that the child’s name “will likely always be associated” with the distressing video, it was “likely to encourage other parents to try to emulate it.”

Quaden Bayles and members of the National Rugby League’s Indigenous All Stars team
| Credit: Jason McCawley/Getty Images

However, as multiple outlets pointed out, Quaden’s story was previously made known, and the boy has been profiled numerous times over the years.

Quaden’s mother detailed her son’s struggles with bullying in 2016, telling Today that her then-5-year-old was frequently ridiculed by children and adults in public. “It’s affected him to the point where he needs counseling,” she said.

The previous year, the boy was also featured on the Australian television show Living Black, a program covering Australia’s indigenous community. In the episode, Quaden, then age 4, underwent surgery on his brain and spinal cord, in order to prevent neurological damage.

That same year, after posting a video that showed her son telling children to “stop looking at me,” Quaden and his mother appeared on another Australian program to promote awareness for dwarfism.

”They’re all just pointing and staring and making it quite obvious, so I just thought I would put the phone on record,” she said. ”Every day in public can become quite challenging. It’s not all the time, there are some really lovely people out there that show their support, but you’re always going to get the odd one that tries to point his differences out.”