Cardi B speaks out in defence of Quaden Bayles after claims he's actually 18 years old
Last Tuesday, Brisbane mother Yarraka Bayles took to Facebook to live-stream her nine-year-old son, Quaden, crying uncontrollably after an incident with another pupil at his school left him wanting to take his own life.
The video - which was captioned: "This is the [impact] of bullying! I seriously don’t know what else to do" - shows the young inconsolable schoolboy saying: "Give me a knife, I'm going to kill myself."
Quaden was born with achondroplasia - the most common form of short-limbed Dwarfism - a condition that his mom says has led "constant bullying" from his peers.
Speaking to NITV News, Ms Bayles the incident that had left her son so upset:
"He wasn't even going to school yesterday until the principal rang and said the Brisbane Bullets [a basketball team] were coming. I went to pick him up and saw him with the kids and the Bullets on the basketball court. Me, my daughter, and my granddaughter were watching and then while they were lining up to get their singlets signed by the players, one of his classmates was patting him on the head and making references to his height.
"She was patting him on the head like a little puppy. My daughter and I looked at each other and we made signals to him to ask if you are right, and he was like 'No' and he was looking at me horrified, like 'Don't make a scene mom'.
Yarraka then explained how she felt "helpless" watching her young son breakdown in front of her:
"You could tell he was very uncomfortable but he was so good at trying to shrug things off, he doesn't want people to know how much it's affecting him, he's so strong and confident but it's times like these when you just see him crumble. It was just heartbreaking to watch, it made me feel helpless."
In response to the video, people all over the world have provided Quaden and his mom with an outpouring of support - including celebrities like Australian actor Hugh Jackman.
Taking to Twitter, Jackman shared a video to his 14.1 million followers, writing: "Quaden - you’ve got a friend in me."
Comedian Brad Williams, who also has dwarfism, even set up a GoFundMe account to send Quaden to Disneyland, writing:
"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. I want to fly Quaden and his mother to America, get them a nice hotel, and bring them to Disneyland."
As of this writing, the online fundraiser has received more than $440,000 in donations from kind strangers.
However, as reported by the New York Post, several conspiracy theories are now circulating comments sections all over social media regarding Quaden's story.
As you can see from the screenshots below, many people are claiming that nine-year-old schoolboy Quaden is actually an 18-year-old actor - and the entire "bullying" story is fake and a "scam".
One of these posts is a video by American rapper Cardi B (real name Belcalis Marlenis Almánzar), who live-streamed herself discussing Quaden's story to her 54 million Instagram followers.Watch Cardi B speak out in defense of Quaden below:
In the video, Cardi says:
"I really don't think he's lying about his age. And just because there's videos of him flossing money and acting all gangster, and acting all cool and everything, it doesn't mean that kids do not pick on him.
"Come on, just because he's acting a certain type of way and trying to be cool, his parents are probably trying to boost up his ego and make him act a certain type of way for Instagram.
"You motherf*****s be acting up for Instagram every single day. Y'all be acting like you've got money every day and y'all broke. Y'all b*****s act like y'all broke. Like ya got money and ya broke."
The video was shared to Quaden's Stand Tall 4 Dwarfism page, along with the caption: "Thanks @iamcardib. I love you! #CardiBKnowsWassup FACTS"
One image of Quaden that has been circulating social media shows the youngster standing in front of a giant "18" decoration - with many claiming this is "proof" Quaden has celebrated his 18th birthday.
However, this has been disproven by Mara Bayles, who confirmed that the party was for another person and Quaden was just attending.
As well as sharing the post above, Yarraka Bayles shared another Facebook post to the Stand Tall 4 Dwarfism page. This post was written by Mariana Lopez Ortiz, who claims to have known Quaden before Tuesday's video went viral. The post reads:
"Yes he's nine. Dwarfism is not a joke. Is he a model or actor?... so are a lot of kids... that doesn't mean s**t.
"His mother made the post because she was overwhelmed and enraged with the bullying. I understand her to the fullest. Never did she ask for money... Never did they say they were broke. Never did they ask for this."
The fact-checking website Snopes has also commented on these theories, saying:
"It might come as a surprise to some, but standing next to a number does not automatically change your age to that number. In that same vein, wearing a shirt reading 'Gucci' or standing next to an adult woman are not activities exclusively reserved for 18-year-olds."
Quaden has also appeared on television before. The video below shows a report from the Australian news station Studio 10 featuring then four-year-old Quaden helping to raise awareness of dwarfism.
Regarding the video, Snopes added:
"While one may be able to argue that 9-year-old Quaden looks like he’s 18, it’s a bit more difficult to buy the argument that the 4-year-old in the above-displayed video is actually 13."
The fact-checking website added:
"Yarraka Bayles, Quaden’s mother, has posted dozens of pictures of him over the years to her social media accounts. In 2012, she shared a series of photographs that showed her infant son on the beach. Bayles commented on those photographs that her son was going on 15 months old."
The article continues:
"If Quaden Bayles was truly 18 years old in February 2020, that would make him about 11 in the 2012 photographs. But that certainly isn’t the case."
PLEASE, if you or anybody you know is having suicidal thoughts, reach out to somebody or contact one of the mental health charities below:
CALM: www.thecalmzone.net, 0800 585 858
Heads Together: www.headstogether.org.uk
Mind: www.mind.org.uk, 0300 123 3393
Papyrus: www.papyrus-uk.org, 0800 068 41 41
Samaritans: www.samaritans.org, 116 123
If you are a non-UK resident, please find a list of mental health charities HERE.