Yarraka Bayles wants to use her platform to bring a change in the ways the education system deals with the bullying of students with disabilities.
The mother of Quaden Bayles, a 9-year-old bullied boy, recently revealed that her family continues to receive death threats and abuse. Speaking to the disability royal commission, Yarraka Bayles said on Monday that she wants to make changes in the way the education system deals with the bullying of children with disabilities. The indigenous woman's son Quaden suffers from the most common type of dwarfism called achondroplasia. Back in February, she posted a distressing clip of her son crying and saying, "Give me a rope, I want to kill myself. I just want to stab myself in the heart... I want some-one to kill me."
In the due course of the video, she revealed that her son's agony stemmed from being bullied at school. "I just picked my son up from school, witnessed a bullying episode, rang the principal and I want people to know this is the effect bullying has. This is what bullying does. So can you please educate your children, your families, your friends because all it takes is one more instance... and you wonder why kids are killing themselves. This is the impact bullying has a nine-year-old kid who just wants to go to school, get an education and have fun but every single fricking day something happens. Another episode another bullying, another taunt, another name-calling," she said.
Aside from a few bullies who are bullying me for taking a stand against bullies, this fundraiser is unreal. So amazing to see all sorts of people come together. Quaden is going to have the time of his life! And it’s all thanks to you! https://t.co/vGLHQXzO0K— Brad Williams (@funnybrad) February 20, 2020
Yarraka shared details of the moments that led to the video dyeing the first day of a new round of hearings which is focused on the education system, reports The Guardian. She told the commission how she arrived at her son's school to pick him up only to find a group of students patting him on the head and making fun of his height. When she asked if he was okay, Quaden shooed her away, "But then, when he got to the car, he let it out," the counsel assisting Kerri Mellifont QC, told the commission. The young boy had been "hysterically crying and screaming about wanting to kill himself," and this prompted a frustrated Yarraka to post the video. She reportedly did so after reaching out to the school and informing them about the incident but was told that the staff would look into it the next day.
The boy's heartbreaking tears pained many and were several Hollywood A-listers reached out to Quaden on social media to let him know that he wasn't alone. The 9-year-old was also invited to walk the players on to the pitch for an exhibition match in Queensland between Australia's Indigenous All Stars NRL team and the New Zealand Māori. In addition to fame and kindness, the family was faced with threats and abuse. "After that video went viral, you actually received online trolling and abuse from people you don’t even know," said Mellifont. To this Yarraka responded, "Yes, still to this day, every day."
"People who think it’s their business to make comment," she said, adding that the family has received "lots of death threats … against my children, my granddaughter." Yarraka said that her son's school tried to improve the situation after her video gained virality however is was afraid that Quaden would be forced to permanently switch to homeschooling. But thanks to his year 4 teacher, the Murri boy is back to school in part. When asked what he changes he would like to see in his school by Mellifont, he said, "Probably … one more support worker. A Murri one."
"So when [the support worker] is away, I can have that one and he’s gonna be there," he said in the prerecorded video. He also shared a message for new students who may not know his disability, "Just don’t be rude to kids who have disabilities and just be kind and be nice," said the young boy. Meanwhile, his mother said that she would like the school to lay more emphasis on educating children about various disabilities rather than focusing on "anti-bullying." Apparently, a disability organization offered to provide a presentation on dwarfism to the students but the school is yet to provide timing for it.
"I would rather not call these kids bullies," she said sharing the prospect of an anonymous reporting system to monitor if kids are being bullied in schools. "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," she said. She added, "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."