- A video of a crying 9-year-old Australian boy was posted last Wednesday and went viral, though the original video was nowhere to be found Saturday.
- While Quaden Bayles received support from people worldwide – including celebrities – the video sparked conspiracy theories and imposter Instagram accounts after he and his mother vanished from social media by Sunday.
- Quaden and his mother, Yarraka, have made several media appearances since 2015 – on television and online, which provides insight into their life.
- This is what we know about Quaden Bayles and his mother, Yarraka Bayles, and how their story unfolded.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Quaden Bayles is 9 years old and was born in December 2010.
Despite conspiracy theories surrounding his age, Bayles is 9 years old.
While the exact date is uncertain, since-deleted posts on the Facebook page of his mother, Yarraka Bayles, indicated he was born sometime around December 13, 2010. Previous public photo albums posted on her Facebook page showed him celebrating numerous birthdays throughout the past decade. He celebrated his first birthday in 2011 and his seventh birthday in 2017, according to the photos seen by Insider.
According to News.com.au, Quaden was found to have achondroplasia, the most common form of dwarfism, when he was just three days old. The average height of an adult male with achondroplasia is 4 feet, 4 inches, according to the National Institutes of Health.
“Health problems commonly associated with achondroplasia include episodes in which breathing slows or stops for short periods (apnea), obesity, and recurrent ear infections,” the NIH said on its website.
He’s from Brisbane, Australia, and is of aboriginal Australian descent.
Quaden’s mom has talked about the particular discrimination her son has faced, not only due to having dwarfism, but because of his aboriginal ancestry.
“We are losing way too many people because of bullying, because of discrimination, because of racism. There’s so many factors of bullying,” his mother said, according to the BBC.
“On top of that, being an aboriginal boy with a disability, people don’t understand that’s a double-edged sword. There’s racism and then there’s discrimination because of the disability.”
In Australia, a person is legally identified as aboriginal if he or she is “a person of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent who identifies as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and is accepted as such by the community in which he [or she] lives,” according to National Geographic.
He and his mom appeared on Australian television in 2015.
In 2015, the mother and son appeared on Australian Network 10’s “Studio 10” to discuss their campaign to fight the stigma associated with dwarfism.
For a bulk of the appearance on the show, Yarraka Bayles and the show’s hosts discuss a viral video that Bayles’ mother said she posted in October 2014 at the beginning of Dwarfism Awareness Month. The video, played during the broadcast, shows a 3-year-old Quaden shouting “stop looking at me” at a group of girls who were staring at him, according to his mother.
“That’s when things started changing for us,” she said. “Every day in public can become quite challenging. It’s not all the time, there are some really lovely people out there that show their support, but you’re always going to get the odd one that tries to point his differences out.”
‘They’re all just pointing and staring and making it quite obvious, so I just thought I would put the phone on record,” she said. “It was just him saying ‘stop looking at me.’ He actually made me aware that they were looking, and looking, and looking because they were walking right behind us,” she added.
His mother also discusses some of his surgeries, including procedures to remove his tonsils and adenoids to improve his breathing and sleeping. In the nearly five-year-old video, Yarraka Bayles mentions she has recently become a single mother.
That same year, he and his mother were featured on “Living Black,” an Australian television program about the Australian indigenous community in 2015.
In a video of the episode uploaded to the Australian broadcaster SBS’ YouTube channel, Yarraka Bayles told the “Living Black” reporter Hannah Hollis that it took her years to accept her son’s diagnosis but eventually she decided that she needed to document it and speak out about it.
The episode explained then-4-year-old Quaden’s life and journey up until that point and followed him as he had surgery to relieve pressure on his brain and spinal cord to prevent neurological damage. While the surgery was a success, it was explained that a failure in the surgery could have resulted in Quaden’s inability to use his arms and legs.
His mother posted the video of him crying on her Facebook page after she picked him up from school, she said.
The video had about 25 million views before it was removed, according to previous reporting by Insider. According to News.com.au, Quaden’s mother posted the video Wednesday after picking him up from school and noticing that he was distraught.
“I’ve just picked my son up from school, witnessed a bullying episode, rang the principal, and I want people to know – parents, educators, teachers – this is the effect that bullying has,” she said in the viral video.
“This is the impact that bullying has on a 9-year-old kid that just wants to go to school, get an education, and have fun,” Bayles said. “But every single freaking day, something happens. Another episode, another bullying, another taunt, another name-calling.”
In the deleted video, Quaden made comments about taking his own life, asking for a knife as he cries about the bullying. Bayles had previously said she walked in on her son trying to take his life when he was just 6 years old, she told Quest Community News, according to News.au.com.
Quaden quickly received support over his tear-jerking video from people worldwide, including celebrities.
In a video posted to Twitter on Friday, the Australian actor Hugh Jackman offered support for Quaden. The video has been viewed more than 1.5 million times.
“Quaden, you are stronger than you know, and no matter what, you’ve got a friend in me, so everyone let’s please be kind to each other,” Jackman said. “Bullying is not OK – period. Life is hard enough. Let’s just remember every person in front of us is facing some kind of battle, so let’s just be kind.”
— Hugh Jackman (@RealHughJackman) February 20, 2020
The New York rapper Cardi B offered support to Quaden on Instagram Live, speaking out against the conspiracy theories around his age.
Brad Williams, a comedian with the same form of dwarfism as Quaden, started a GoFundMe to send Quaden and his mom to Disneyland in California.
So far, nearly 20,000 people have donated to the fundraiser – started Friday – that has raised nearly $500,000.
“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,” Williams wrote on the GoFundMe page. “I want to fly Quaden and his mother to America, get them a nice hotel, and bring them to Disneyland.”
While part of the backlash has centered on the idea that Quaden and his mother do not need all the money, Williams said funds remaining after the Disney trip would be donated to an anti-bullying campaign.
“This isn’t just for Quaden, this is for anyone who has been bullied in their lives and told they weren’t good enough,” Williams said. “Let’s show Quaden and others, that there is good in the world and they are worthy of it. I have been in touch directly with Quaden’s mother.”
In a tweet on Friday, Williams said he had “a team of people making sure everything is completely legitimate.”
“The love you have shown is unbelievable. Thank you! Money donated will not be wasted,” the 36-year-old comedian tweeted. “We thank you for your generosity and patience while we make sure all this is done the right way.”
Conspiracy theories about his age and wealth spread online as the viral video grew in popularity.
Unfounded conspiracy theories started to spread as his mother’s video grew more viral. Quaden and related topics about his age trended worldwide on Twitter on Friday as people latched on to a theory that Quaden was actually an 18-year-old teen actor.
While some pointed to a photo of Quaden posted to his deleted-Instagram that showed him posing in front of a large, light-up “18” as evidence he was a teen, he was seemingly not at his own birthday party in the photo.
A deep dive of his mother’s personal Facebook page by Insider suggested that Quaden was really 9 years old.
“Dwarfism is not a joke, is he a model or actor? Sh–, so are a lot of kids… That doesn’t mean shit! All the money in the world cant change a disability or the pain that comes from it,” a post shared on a Facebook page for Stand Tall 4 Dwarfism, created by Yarraka Bayles in 2014, said.
A profile on StarNow further fueled conspiracies as it listed him as an actor and a model.
He and his mother greatly reduced their social-media presence following their moment in the spotlight.
Quaden and his mother largely disappeared from social media following the conspiracies that spread about the viral incident. Instagram accounts for both Quaden and Yarraka Bayles were deleted as of Saturday. In their place, imposters took over, creating dozens of Instagram accounts and a few Twitter accounts pretending to be the 9-year-old and his mother.
Using Stand Tall 4 Dwarfism, Yarraka Bayles spoke out against the fake accounts, telling her son’s supporters that the Stand Tall 4 Dwarfism page was the only social-media account that they controlled.
Meanwhile, dozens of people on Instagram and a few on Twitter tried to take advantage of the viral moment, crafting imposter profiles for Quaden. While many seemed to be in search of followers, some requested PayPal donations and others directed users to click scam links that promised gift cards to “support” Quaden and his mother.
Quaden was invited to lead out an indigenous rugby league team in New Zealand on Saturday.
His mother, who said Quaden had always dreamed of being a Rugby star, said the experience was the “best day of his life,” according to the BBC.
The offer to walk out with the National Rugby League’s Indigenous All Stars was extended to the 9-year-old in a video posted by fullback Rabbitoh Latrell Mitchell, the report said.
“We’ve got your back and just want to make sure that you are doing all right … We want you around, we want you to lead us out on the weekend,” he said.
Quaden and his mother disappeared from social media on Sunday.
Just a day after Quaden and Yarraka Bayles’ Instagram profiles vanished, the Facebook page for Stand Tall 4 Dwarfism, the last remaining public social-media profile for Quaden and his mother was also deleted without explanation.
Yarraka Bayles’ personal Facebook account still existed Sunday but was private, so there was little way anyone could engage with her.
The page, created in 2014, had about 45,000 likes before it was taken offline Sunday.