Bullying has been a systemic issue in our school system for decades and unfortunately does not appear to be improving. Any child who is different, who doesn’t seem to “fit in”, wears different clothing, is considered unattractive, or appears less intelligent, athletic, or skilled, is a common target for bullying.
Bullying can have a deeply negative impact on a child’s self-esteem, which can follow them well into adulthood. The consequences of this were demonstrated recently when a mother in Australia posted a video of her nine-year-old son, who was so distraught after being bullied at school that he was sobbing, and saying repeatedly that he wanted to die.
Quaden Bayles is an aboriginal boy living in Brisbane, Australia. He has a form of Dwarfism called Achondroplasia, which means his torso is of normal length, but he has short arms and legs and an enlarged head [1,2].
Quaden’s physical differences from his peers have made him a constant target for bullying his entire life. The young boy attempted suicide when he was just six years old and has made several attempts since. His mother, Yarraka, has to keep a constant eye on her son and says she no longer knows what to do.
“It’s the constant bullying, the name-calling, obviously pointing out his difference so now we have a … severely suicidal child who’s sick of the bullying that is [happening] every single day that he attends school or is in public,” she said .
Bayles shared the video with the goal of showing the effect that bullying can have on a child.
After the video hit social media, support came rolling in from all corners of the world. The hashtag #WeStandWithQuaden began trending, and comedian Brad Williams created a GoFundMe campaign with the goal of raising ten thousand dollars to send the Boyles family to Disneyland, and the remaining funds would be donated to an anti-bullying charity.
The campaign has been wildly successful and has already raised five hundred thousand dollars. This is when the trolls started making an already tragic situation worse.
Some people began to claim that the whole story was a scam, and the family simply posted the video to make money. Comments stating that Quaden is actually an eighteen-year-old actor started flooding in, making the young boy the target of yet another form of bullying .
The source of the rumor was some Instagram photos of Quaden at a birthday party, standing next to a large, lit-up number “18”, which made some people think that he was faking his age. The photos, that were taken at a birthday party at which Quaden was a guest, have since been removed from social media and the claims against his age have been denounced .
Bullying in Schools
According to PREVnet, a Canadian authority on bullying prevention, an estimated twelve to eighteen percent of boys and girls have reported being bullied and bullying other kids . In Australia, a country with one of the highest teen suicide rates in the world, eighty percent of all suicides are a direct result of bullying .
Bullying has been shown to have significant negative health outcomes for victimized children. Children who are bullied by their peers show low levels of psychological well-being and social adjustment, as well as higher levels of psychological distress and adverse physical health symptoms .
Frequent victims of bullying report feeling that they don’t have much to be proud of, and that think of themselves as failures. Young children have not yet had enough time to develop interests or skills that might improve their self-confidence, so they are more likely to rely on their relationships with their peers to enhance their sense of competence .
Children who are bullied also tend to have less friends, and therefore feel isolated from their peers. This can lead them to be even more depressed, making them even less likely to make friends, leaving them in a cycle of loneliness .
Not surprisingly, children who are bullied at school have a higher rate of absenteeism. This, of course, has a negative impact on their performance in school and can have far-reaching implications as they get older and are trying to get into universities and get jobs .
Support for Quaden
Despite some of the backlash, the response to Bayle’s video has been overwhelmingly supportive. Quaden has had celebrities like actress Teuila Blakely, Hugh Jackman, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan express their support for him, and some of the National Rugby League’s biggest stars reached out and invited him to lead them out onto the field before and Indigenous All Stars Game [8,9].
Bayles does not blame the school or even the children bullying Quaden, but is calling for more education and awareness about disabilities in schools.
“That would solve so many of the problems,” said Bayles. “it would protect the other kids with disabilities and help make them feel safe.” 
Since the incident, Quaden has been taken out of class and will likely be homeschooled. His mother plans on keeping the video online despite some criticism, and will continue to post videos whenever something like this happens again to create more awareness around bullying.
“If I don’t stand up and speak out for him, who will?” 
Paying it Forward
The GoFundMe page started by comedian Brad Williams raised nearly 475 thousand US dollars, but instead of using the money to go to Disney Land with his family, the funds will be donated to charities instead.
“We want the money to go to community organizations that really need it,” said his mom. “They know what the money should be spent on, so as much as we want to go to Disneyland, I think our community would far off benefit from that.” 
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