Quaden Bayles: Bullied 9-year-old boy's mom says family getting death threats ever since video went viral
Yarraka Bayles said that she wanted to change how the education system dealt with the issue of bullying children, especially those with disabilities
Australia's Disability Royal Commission has learned from the mother of bullying victim Quaden Bayles that their family is still receiving death threats and abuse months after he went viral on social media. Yarraka Bayles, whose son Quaden has dwarfism, said on Monday, October 12 that she wanted to use her new platform to change how the education system dealt with the issue of bullying children, especially those with disabilities, The Guardian reported.
Bayles explained to the commission what led to the heartbreaking video on the first day of a new round of hearings on the education system. She recalled arriving at Quaden's school and spotting a group of students patting her son on the head and making fun of his stature. When she asked Quaden if he was OK, he reportedly shooed her away. “But then, when he got to the car, he let it out,” the counsel assisting, Kerri Mellifont QC, told the commission. Quaden had been “hysterically crying and screaming about wanting to kill himself," she added.
Bayles reportedly posted the clip online after reporting the incident to the school, which was apparently laidback in its response. The Murri boy is seen on video urging his mother to “give me a knife, I’m going to kill myself." Quaden subsequently received an outpouring of support from across the globe. Being an ardent Rabbitohs fan, the nine-year-old was even invited to walk on to the pitch for an exhibition match between Australia’s Indigenous All-Stars, constituting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players, and the New Zealand Māori.
But the commission heard how the Queensland family also faced a ton of threats and online abuse. “After that video went viral, you actually received online trolling and abuse from people you don’t even know,” Mellifont said. “Yes, still to this day, every day,” Yarraka Bayles revealed. “People who think it’s their business to make comment.” She added that the family had received “lots of death threats… against my children, my granddaughter."
Addressing the commission, Bayles noted that Quaden’s school had tried to improve the situation after her video went viral. Nonetheless, she feared he would be forced to return to homeschooling permanently. Quaden, however, is currently back in school. Mellifront asked the youngster in a pre-recorded video what changes he'd like to see at his school. “Probably... one more support worker. A Murri one,” he responded. “So when [the support worker] is away, I can have that one and he’s gonna be there.”
Mellifront also asked if he had a message for new students who might not understand his disability. “Just don’t be rude to kids who have disabilities and just be kind and be nice," he said. Meanwhile, his mother raised the prospect of an anonymous reporting system that could monitor if students were being bullied by others at school. “I would rather not call these kids bullies,” Yarraka said. “I don’t believe they want to hurt kids. They don’t understand the consequence of their actions. I don’t want to get kids expelled or suspended because that doesn’t help."
“I don’t blame them or the school, in some respects. There’s just not enough education around kids with disabilities, let alone Murri kids with disabilities, in school," she added.