Content Warning: This article discusses suicide and may be triggering to some people.
Two weeks after Yarraka Bayles live-streamed a heartbreaking video of her nine-year-old son’s despair in the wake of being bullied over his short stature, the family has sat down in their first televised interview since the post went viral.
The original video, in which Bayles’ son Qauden expressed the urge to take his life multiple times, was viewed 25 million times in less than two days and sparked a global conversation ― as well as a string of hateful lies online.
NITV confirmed to HuffPost Australia the Bayles family declined an interview on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and other paid international appearances to focus on the issues that matter most to them and their community: bullying, youth suicide and the plight of Australia’s First Peoples.
“They turned down all requests preferring to share their story with NITV given their long association with the channel,” an NITV spokesperson told HuffPost on Wednesday.
It’s been a massive two weeks for the family who faced criticism for live streaming Quaden’s anguish, followed by wild and cruel Internet rumours that the boy was actually a 19-year-old, an actor, and that the family was rich. Another rumour was that Quaden was dead ― all among the lies that Quaden’s mum can’t even begin to grasp.
“That just goes to show how stupid people are,” Yarraka told NITV’s Jodan Perry from the family’s Brisbane rental home. “They obviously haven’t done their homework. A simple Google would save a lot of drama.”
In the sit-down and unpaid interview special with Australia’s National Indigenous Television Network’s “The Point”, produced by NITV’s Jack Latimore, Daniel Gallahar and Rhanna Collins, Bayles explained her decision to livestream the distressing aftermath of one of many bullying episodes on that Wednesday afternoon.
“At that time of recording, I just felt hopeless,” she told Perry. “I felt really and truly hopeless. Like, what is it going to take for me to lose my son before anything happens? I can’t do that. I’m not going to wait.”
After garnering global headlines, celebrity support and hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations, Quaden’s family has declined a $700k crowdfunded trip to Disneyland, asking instead for the sum to be divided between selected charities. The GoFundMe was started by US comedian Brad Williams who was also born with achondroplasia, a form of dwarfism.
Bayles told NITV she wants to use this recent exposure to focus on building emotional resilience and working with those who demonstrate traits and patterns of bullying. Tentatively titled “Quaden’s Law” Yarraka wants it to be mandated under state and national school curriculum.
Quaden’s mum has been a vocal advocate for Indigenous issues and disability awareness, and the family has earmarked two organisations ― Dwarfism Awareness Australia and Balunu Healing Foundation, a nonprofit that works with Indigenous youth ― as groups they’d like to see benefit from the crowdfunding.
The Point: The Bayles Family Respond is an extended interview program following the premiere of the new season of The Point tonight (Wednesday March 4 at 9.30pm) on NITV.