TRIGGER WARNING: This article discusses suicide
The Murri mother who shared a video of her 9-year-old son's despair following a bullying incident at a Brisbane State School has called for disability awareness to be embedded in the curriculum.
Yarraka Bayles, whose son Quaden was born with Achondroplasia, the most common form of Dwarfism, witnessed the incident at Carina State School on Wednesday afternoon. Speaking exclusively to NITV News, Ms Bayles says it was heartbreaking and made her feel 'helpless'.
"He wasn't even going to school yesterday until the principal rang and said the Brisbane Bullets were coming. I went to pick him up and saw him with the kids and the Bullets on the basketball court. Me, my daughter and my granddaughter were watching and then while they were lining up to get their singlets signed by the players, one of his classmates was patting him on the head and making references to his height," she says.
"She was patting him on the head like a little puppy. My daughter and I looked at each other and we made signals to him to ask if you are right, and he was like 'no' and he was looking at me horrified, like 'don't make a scene mum'."
"You could tell he was very uncomfortable but he was so good at trying to shrug things off, he doesn't want people to know how much it's affecting him, he's so strong and confident but it's times like these when you just see him crumble. It was just heartbreaking to watch, it made me feel helpless."
Ms Bayles says her son was 'hysterical' after what happened, so she took him to her car and talked it over with him. She then started filming his reaction, in which he threatened to take his own life and said 'he wished he was dead.' Quaden was just six years old when he first attempted to take his life after the passing of his grandfather. He has made constant attempts since, with some very close calls.
Since the video was live streamed on her social media account, she has received a wave of support from the community, but also some harsh criticism, which she says she expected.
"I have copped a lot of backlash for it, i thought twice about deleting it ... but I wanted people to see the effect bullying is having on my child. If I don't stand up and speak out for him, who will," she says.
"It could have been the final straw that made him want to carry out with his threats, which come almost every single day."
Ms Bayles says her son has faced constant discrimination throughout his life for being a Murri boy with a disability,
"Nobody knows the battles we face in private. I usually share all the positive highlights, but this stuff needs to be addressed to save our babies' lives."
WARNING: THE VIDEO BELOW DISCUSSES SUICIDE AND MAY BE TRIGGERING
Quaden has been removed from the school after just three weeks of classes. He will likely undertake home schooling, which he has done in the past.
Ms Bayles doesn't place any blame on the child involved or the school, saying they have 'amazing support' systems in place, but these compounding incidents have finally taken their toll. She is calling for more action to prevent further instances of bullying. She says a regular induction for new children, a school-wide address or even workshops to raise awareness about children living with disability.
"That would solve so many of the problems, I have already spoken about this at the school, it would protect the other kids with disabilities and help make them feel safe. Even if their whole class does something, a teacher reads a book for example, there's so many things we can do. It should be a part of the curriculum by now." she said.
Since the video went viral, a raft of community members have expressed their support of the Bayles family. Designer Josh Yasserie created the below image which has been shared by Rugby League stars and the wider Indigenous community.
Ms Bayles says her son is doing fine, and is looking forward to attending the Indigenous All Stars match on the Gold Coast on Saturday night to watch his uncle James Roberts in action.
James has been in contact with Quaden and is organising for him to run out with the team prior to the match.
Readers seeking support can contact Lifeline crisis support on 13 11 14, visit lifeline.org.au or find an Aboriginal Medical Service here. Resources for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders can be found at Headspace: Yarn Safe.