A fundraising campaign for a bullied and suicidal 9-year-old Australian boy with dwarfism is facing backlash Friday after some social media users are allegedly suggesting the boy is an actor. A viral Facebook video took over the internet Thursday showing Quaden Bayles uncontrollably crying, telling his mother, who was filming the video, that he wanted to kill himself. But now, concerned social media users are raising questions as to the legitimacy of the storyline.
Quaden's name spent the majority of Friday morning trending on Twitter with countless users and celebrities alike tweeting words of support for the little boy, whose mother, Yarraka Bayles, claimed is suicidal every day due to the constant amount of bullying he receives at school for his size. Quaden was born with achondroplasia, a genetic disorder that results in dwarfism.
In fact, actor Hugh Jackman was one of the celebrities to publicly reach out to Quaden. "Quaden, you are stronger than you know, mate," Jackson said in a Twitter video. "No matter what, you've got a friend in me."
American comedian Brad Williams has helped raise more than $300,000 via a GoFundMe campaign to send Quaden on a trip to Disneyland in California. "This isn't just for Quaden, this is for anyone who has been bullied in their lives and told they weren't good enough," wrote Williams, who has the same dwarfism condition.
But some Twitter users posted screenshots of photos they say have since been deleted from Quaden's Instagram account, including a few of him holding cash and wearing designer clothes. Some even linked to an online talent profile bearing his name describing him as an "actor, extra, model and influencer." Other photos that appear to be from his Instagram profile show him celebrating an 18th birthday.
Everyone is talking about #QuadenBayles boy from Australia who's bullied.. But what is going on with his INSTAGRAM account " quadosss "
Why does this little boy have a gun?!
(Its removed now)
Why is this little boy flashing $?— Canadian🧕🏻💚 زوجي SAUDI🧔🏻 (@alkanadiya) February 21, 2020
Horrible parents..are they using child for fame? pic.twitter.com/hh5zuG7g2R
Some Twitter users have pointed out that even if Quaden is an actor, that does not prevent him from being bullied at school like Yarraka narrated in the Facebook video. In it, Quaden sits in the back seat of a vehicle and cries while Yarraka explains that she saw one of his schoolmates patting him on the head and bullying him while she picked him up from school. Quaden repeatedly told his mother that he wanted to die.
"I wish I could stab myself in my heart," Quaden cried in the video, which has been viewed more than 22 million times.
"This is what bullying is doing and I want people to know how much this is hurting us as a family," Yarraka captioned the 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."
Quaden, who is Aboriginal Australian, has been invited to lead the Indigenous All-Stars out onto the field in their rugby league game with the Mario All Stars in Queensland on Saturday.
"We could never have dreamt in our wildest dreams that it would've gone worldwide and created such a media frenzy," Yarraka told reporters on Friday, according to the Associated Press. "There are way too many people suffering in silence and my heart goes out to those families that have already lost their children to bullying. It's an international crisis and it demands urgent attention."
Quaden and Yarraka have long been advocating against bullying, appearing on various news programs in Australia for the past several years. In 2015, Quaden was featured by BuzzFeed News after Yarraka posted a cute Facebook video of Quaden being introduced to a mirror. The video went viral, but in the meantime attracted unwanted negative comments from trolls, like one that read, "S—, that's one ugly kid."0comments
At the time, Yarraka told BuzzFeed News that the comments were horrible but that "there's always going to be a few negative [people]. You just gotta shake it off."
"This isn't the first time and it won't be the last. Facebook can't really do much - it's the risk I take. I wanted to share our story to raise awareness and there's always gonna be someone with a small mind who comes out with negative comments."