Last week, nine-year-old Quaden Bayles caught the attention of the world after his mother shared a video of the schoolboy crying uncontrollably after an incident at school left him wanting to end his own life.
Quaden's mom, Yarraka Bayles, live-streamed the video on Tuesday (February 18), and accompanied it with the caption: "This is the [impact] of bullying! I seriously don’t know what else to do".
In the video, the inconsolable schoolboy tells his mom: "Give me a knife, I'm going to kill myself."You can watch the full video below (Warning: some viewers may find it upsetting):
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 revealed how Quaden's comments made her feel "helpless".
In response to the video, Quaden has been met with an outpouring of support from people all over the world. Celebrities such as Hugh Jackman and Cardi B have posted videos of support for Quaden, and comedian Brad Williams, who also has dwarfism, even set up a GoFundMe account to send the youngster to Disneyland. Writing on the GoFundMe page, Williams said:
"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.
In another moment of support, Quaden was invited to walk the NRL Indigenous All Stars onto the ground on Saturday night (local time) to deliver the match ball prior to their match against the Maori All Stars at the Gold Coast.[[imagecaption|| Credit: PA Images]]
In a video shared by the official NRL Twitter account, Quaden was met with a huge roar of support from those in attendance, as he walked hand-in-hand with Indigenous All Stars captain Joel Thompson, as they led the team out onto the pitch together.
Sporting the NRL Indigenous All Stars jersey, the nine-year-old proudly shook the hand of every member of the Maori squad before he carrying the ball onto the pitch and handing it over to the referee.[[imagecaption|| Credit: PA Images]]
Per ABC News, the Indigenous All Stars reached out and offer Quaden the chance to lead them out for their match with the Maori All Stars at the Robina Stadium.[[imagecaption|| Credit: PA Images]]
Despite a difficult week, superstar winger Josh Addo-Carr can be seen making the nine-year-old smile from as they reached the middle of the field.[[imagecaption|| Credit: PA Images]]
Quaden's moment in the spotlight comes after the New York Post reported yesterday that several conspiracy theories are now circulating across social media regarding the validity of 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".[[imagecaption|| Credit: Facebook]] [[imagecaption|| Credit: Facebook]]
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:
The video was shared to Quaden's Stand Tall 4 Dwarfism page, along with the caption: "Thanks @iamcardib. I love you! #CardiBKnowsWassup FACTS"[[imagecaption|| Credit: Facebook]]
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.