Mum reacts to bullied boy’s ‘media frenzy’
YARRAKA Bayles, the mother of bullying victim Quaden, who has captured hearts around the world, has opened up on the overwhelming flood of support the family has received.
After posting a video of a distraught Quaden to her Facebook page in order to shine a light on the bullying the nine-year-old deals with, the video has gone viral around the world and the youngster has been invited to lead the Indigenous All Stars out on to the field in their match with the Maori on Saturday night.
The video shows the youngster sitting in the back seat of a car in tears after facing yet another day of bullying at school.
"Give me a knife - I want to kill myself," he says, "I just want to die right now."
Ms Bayles explains she had just picked Quaden up from school, had witnessed a bullying episode, rang the principal, and wanted people to know - parents, educators, teachers - "this is the effect that bullying has".
Ms Bayles said the family has tried to be as strong and positive as possible and "only share the highlights" of her son's traumatic fight.
But she has also admitted she constantly has to keep an eye on Quaden as a result of suicide attempts. Ms Bayles told Quest Community News in 2019 that she first walked in on her son trying to take his own life when he was just six years old, which is when he began saying that he wished he were dead.
On Friday, Ms Bayles told reporters Quaden had admitted the outpouring of support saw yesterday "go from the worst day of his life to the best day of his life".
"We've always had amazing community support, especially from the footy boys - they're all his uncles, related to most of them - so they've always been there but no where near the amount of support," she said.
"We could never have dreamt in our wildest dreams that it would have gone worldwide and created such a media frenzy. Just being contacted non-stop, people turning up at our house and contacting every single person, it's far exceeded anything we could have imagined."
Ms Bayles shed some more light on the ordeal Quaden has gone through, as well as
"It's every person's worst nightmare losing their babies and for me, that's my reality every day," she said. "I have to prepare for the worst because everything he's going through, his medical condition, the suicide attempts are very real and people don't understand that.
"On top of that, being an Aboriginal boy with a disability, people don't understand that's a double edged sword, they don't realise you're discriminated against, it's rascism and then also discriminated against because of a disability. It's extremely hard but it's also strengthening.
"It's brought a whole family together, strengthened us, it's brought the community together, it's brought the short-statured people of the world together in helping raise and making sure he's safe.
"We are losing way too many people because of bullying, because of discrimination, because of rascism, there are so many factors in bullying and when you look at the suicide rates within our communities it's going through the roof.
"So we've got to ask ourselves what are we doing individually as families, as communities and as a nation to make sure these numbers aren't increasing because the gap is not closing, it is widening and that's the reality we face every single day as First Nations people.
"Quaden is in the highest statistic with being a young Aboriginal boy in the world, they are taking their lives at the highest rate. That for me is my legacy, that's why I'm doing what I'm doing and we're not going to suffer silence anymore, there are way too many people suffering in silence and my heart goes out to those families who have already lost their children to bullying. It's been way too many and it needs to be addressed. It's an international crisis and it demands urgent attention."
Ms Bayles said she didn't realise the extent of the issue but has been met with an outpouring of similar stories from throughout the community.
While celebrities have reached out to the family and raised over $170,000 on a GoFundMe campaign to send the youngster to Disneyland, Quaden was also welcomed with open arms to lead out the Indigenous All-Stars out on Saturday night in the annual match against the Maori All-Stars.
The team reached out to Quaden, who was diagnosed with achondroplasia - the most common form of dwarfism - after seeing the heartbreaking message posted by his mother.
The video has since been viewed over 17 million times.
It comes after the Indigenous All Stars had responded straight away with the invite, Latrell Mitchell leading the charge.
"We know you're going through a hard time right now. But the boys are here and we've got your back. We're here to support you bud," Mitchell said in a video posted by the NRL on Twitter.
"We just want to make sure that you're doing alright. And make sure that (you know) your mum's on your side and we're on your side. Just make sure you're just thinking the right things bud. Cos we want you around and we want you to lead us out on the weekend.
"It's going to mean more to us than it will to you, bud. Just make sure you're looking after yourself and hopefully we're going to see you in the next couple of days."
Even players from the Maori All Stars team have promised to embrace Quaden and try to cheer him up if he is able to attend the NRL All Stars match on Saturday night.
Love that the indigenous boys have reached out to the family and will be leading them out on Saturday night at the all stars. Will be sure to go find him and show some love as well ❤️ https://t.co/F0NGGPlGVT— Brad Takairangi (@Bradtaka_) February 20, 2020
Speaking on behalf of the team at a press conference, Indigenous All Stars and Rabbitohs five-eighth Cody Walker said it was heartbreaking to see.
"Obviously we're in a pretty privleged postiition to be sports stars," Walker said. "Obviously seeing that hurt us in so many way and we thought very quickly about what we could do to lift his spirits and one of the vehicles for the Aboriginal community is rugby league.
"This game is a very importantt game within those communities so what better way than to get Quaden down here on the Gold Coast, be a part of our team, lead us out like the young warrior he is and show him we love him and the broader community love him and that he's doing a wonderful job in standing up aginst this kind of behaviour."
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