news

The world's response to the story of Quaden Bayles is the perfect antidote to bullying.

This article discusses suicide and may be distressing for some readers. If you or anyone you know needs support, you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or BeyondBlue on 1300 22 4636.

Last week, the world watched a six-minute video of an Australian schoolboy sobbing into the front seat of his mum’s car, completely and utterly broken.

His name is Quaden Bayles. He is nine years old. He has achondroplasia, the most common form of dwarfism. And every day, he comes home from school wanting to harm himself because of relentless bullying.

On Wednesday, we saw both Quaden and his mum, Yarraka Bayles, at breaking point. A boy pleading for it to stop. A mother desperate for solutions.

Watch: Here’s the video of Quaden Bayles, shared by his mother. Post continues below. 

Video by Facebook

Sadly, it’s a familiar sight that never gets easier to watch. We know bullying in Australia has never been worse. We know one in four students has experienced bullying face-to-face and one in five has been bullied online. We also know bullying kills.

It’s been two years since we lost 14-year-old Amy ‘Dolly’ Everett when she ended her life in 2018 after enduring horrific cyberbullying. Before Dolly, it was Jessie Tolhurst in 2016. She was also 14. In 2017, we lost 13-year-old Libby Bell to bullying, and in 2019, a Queensland father narrowly saved his 12-year-old son from a suicide attempt. His family came forward to warn other parents not to underestimate the effects of bullying on children’s mental health.

But something about Quaden’s story cut through the news cycle this week. The video showed us, once again, real-time, real-life proof that what we’re currently doing to protect kids from bullying isn’t working.

As Yarraka put it, we will lose more children to bullying unless something changes – and now.

Immediately, the video went viral, prompting people all over the world to offer Quaden and his family support.

On Saturday night, Quaden Bayles led his favourite sports team, the NRL Indigenous All Stars, on to the pitch for an exhibition match in Queensland against the New Zealand Māoris.

Quaden, who hopes to become a professional rugby player, strode out whilst holding the hand of team captain Joel Thompson.

ADVERTISEMENT
Quaden Bayles runs onto the field before the NRL match between the Indigenous All-Stars and the New Zealand Maori Kiwis All-Stars at Cbus Super Stadium on February 22, 2020 on the Gold Coast, Australia. Image: Getty.

It comes after he was personally invited to do so by fullback Latrell Mitchell.

"Hey, Quadey... Just wanted to wish you all the best, brother. We know you're going through a hard time right now, but the boys are here," the rugby star said in a video message, surrounded by his teammates.

"We've got your back, we're here to support you, bud. We just want to make sure you're doing alright. We want you around, we want you to lead us down on the weekend. It's going to mean more to us than it will to you, bud.

"Just make sure you're looking after yourself and hopefully we get to see you in the next couple of days."

On Friday, Australian actor Hugh Jackman became the latest high-profile person to stand with the Brisbane student.

ADVERTISEMENT

"Quaden — you’ve got a friend in me," the Wolverine star said in a 20-second video posted on Twitter.

"Bullying is not okay, period, life is hard enough. Quaden, you are stronger than you know, mate, and no matter what, you have got a friend in me."

And at some point in Quaden's near future, he and his mum will also be going to Disneyland in the US courtesy of American actor and comedian, Brad Williams, and more than 18,500 generous donors to a GoFundMe page set up in support of Quaden. At the time of publishing, $460,000 has been raised.

Brad, like Quaden, was also born with achondroplasia. Watching the Quaden's video struck a chord with him and pushed him to set up the fundraiser to show the young boy he is loved, valued and cared for by so many.

On Friday, Brad and Quaden FaceTimed to talk about the "huge things in the works" for Quaden's visit.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

There is good in the world! A 9 year old boy with dwarfism named Quaden was being mercilessly bullied at school. After a particularly horrible day, Quaden was in hysterics. His mother taped him crying, saying he wanted a knife to kill himself, and put it on the internet to show people the effects of bullying. This story struck a nerve with me. So I started a GoFundMe to fly Quaden and his mother to America and send them to Disneyland. I set the goal at 10k, as of now we have 18.5k raised! I love all of you. Quaden loves you. We stood up to bullying! Any money leftover after he goes to Disney will be donated to anti-bullying/anti-abuse charities. Thank you so much for your generosity and showing a child there is love in the world. #EndBullying Here is the link to the GoFundMe https://www.gofundme.com/f/lets-send-a-wonderful-kid-to-disneyland

A post shared by Brad Williams (@bradwilliamscomic) on

ADVERTISEMENT

Right now, we don't know the specifics of what immediate and long-term action will be taken to address the bullying that compelled Yarraka Bayles to make her son's struggle public. What we do know is that life for Quaden looks infinitely brighter today than it did in the moments we saw in the video.

Amid what has been a harrowing week of news, both in Australia and around the world, how we as human beings have risen to rally around a broken boy is the perfect antidote to bullying.

It's shown Quaden's bullies and the system that enables them that we will not stand for this abhorrent behaviour any longer. That light and hope will always extinguish darkness.

If you think you may be experiencing depression or another mental health problem, please contact your general practitioner. If you're based in Australia, please contact Lifeline 13 11 14 for support or beyondblue 1300 22 4636. If you are in immediate danger, 000.

Featured Image: Getty.

00:00 / ???