Quaden Bayles' mom responds to claims her son is actually an 18-year-old man
On Tuesday, Brisbane mom Yarraka Bayles live-streamed a video of her nine-year-son Quaden sobbing uncontrollably and saying he wanted to end his own life after he was apparently teased by another child at his school earlier in the day.
Quaden Bayles was born with achondroplasia - the most common form of short-limbed Dwarfism - a condition that has led to "constant bullying" from his peers, SBS reports.
The video was accompanied with the caption: "This is the [impact] of bullying! I seriously don’t know what else to do!"
After the distressing video went viral on social media, Ms Bayles spoke to NITV News and revealed she was left heartbroken by her son's words, adding that she felt "helpless".
However, the video led to an outpouring of support for Quaden and his mother, with comments sections being flooded with kind messages from strangers all over the world.
One of the many people who have reached out to Quaden is 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."
In the video, Jackman tells the schoolboy: "Quaden, you are stronger than you know mate, and no matter what, you've got a friend in me. So, everyone lets please be kind to each other - bullying is not OK."
Another person to reach out to the family is comedian Brad Williams, who also has Dwarfism. Williams even set up a GoFundMe account to send Quaden to Disneyland.
"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," he wrote in the GoFundMe campaign.
As of this writing, the online fundraiser has received $440,984 in donations from kind strangers.
However, as many of you may have seen and as the New York Post has reported, comments sections regarding Quaden's story have been flooded with claims that the nine-year-old schoolboy is actually an 18-year-old man with a huge social media following and a career in acting. See screenshots below:
The overarching claim is that this entire story has been a scam by Quaden and his mother.
One of the images circulating social media shows Quaden standing in front of a giant "18" decoration, with many claiming this is "proof" Quaden is actually 18. 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 Quaden's support page Stand Tall 4 Dwarfism. 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.