Handwritten text on a blackboard reads "STOP BULLYING"

Quaden's mum decided to make a live broadcast on social media showing his pain and suicide ideation after a bullying incident at school. The video has gone viral with more than 17 million views so far and has been met with an outpouring of love and support for Quaden. 

Quaden's mother, Yarraka Bayles has called for disability awareness to be included in the school curriculum and has withdrawn him from a Brisbane school following the incident. Quaden is 9 years old. He is Indigenous and has a visible disability. Quaden was born with achondroplasia dwarfism and is an advocate for Stand Tall 4 Dwarfism. He should not have to carry this burden. His social and emotional wellbeing should be supported and nourished by his community. 

Bullying can be very hurtful and cause lots of pain. It can even lead to feeling suicidal. Suicide is the leading cause of death for young people and suicide rates are at least 2.5 times higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples than the national average. School students with disabilities are more likely to be bullied due to systemic ableism and a lack of disability awareness and education in the wider community. 

Quaden and his mother Yarraka. An Aboriginal boy with short stature and his mother smiling and hugging. Photo: Stand Tall 4 Dwarfism: Facebook

Media attention and support for Quaden across social media have been heartwarming, however, practical solutions to bullying are never simple and require persistent and consistent application over time to take effect. Systemic disability awareness and empathy are needed to build a more accepting and inclusive society. 

Disability and appearance activist, Carly Findlay has spoken up in support of Quaden, though regrets sharing an article from NITV and the negative impact the excessive media attention and responses in social media is having on the short-statured community.

In 2010, Carly wrote a very profound and candid blog post about bullying in response to media reports on the death of a young girl by suicide triggered by bullying. 

It is heartbreaking to know that human beings have the power to make others feel so worthless to the point they take their own life. I have been bullied throughout my life, mostly at school. I’ve never forgotten it. I would be called names, teased because of my appearance, I was once stabbed with a protractor in class, and I felt never had many true friends through my school life. The worst thing I felt was the exclusion by other kids. I had no one to sit with at lunchtime – I would sit with another boy who was bullied and isolated or in the library alone.

You can read the full blog post on Carly's website.

The Indigenous All Stars NRL team has likewise come out in support of Quaden and asked him to lead them out for their match against the New Zealand All-Stars team on Saturday. They posted this video to social media. 

Click here for more information and a text-based version

Bullying hurts

Bullying, name-calling and violence hurt. When they say "stick and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me" it is a far cry from the truth. 

It can be distressing to know that your child is being bullied. Stay calm and positive but allow your child a safe space to feel sad and hurt. It is okay not to feel okay, and the words and actions of others can hurt. Talk about and practice strategies for face to face or online bullying (known as cyberbullying) and report any bullying incidents to the school. 

School principals, school counsellors and classroom teachers can help kids who have been bullied. It is important for kids to feel safe and have an adult they can trust and talk to if they are experiencing bullying. Parents need to talk to their children about respect and kindness and to educate them about differences they will come across in their daily lives. Differences include disability, skin colour, cultural, language and religious differences. 

Bullying can happen online, in the workplace and community too. It is not just a "school-yard" problem. If you experience bullying in the workplace, you are protected by anti-bullying regulations under the Fair Work Act.

Information and resources are available; please refer to the crisis services listed at the bottom of this post. 

Ableism

Visible or discernible differences are a part of life. Everyone is different. People with a disability, however, can face barriers to access and inclusion due to their differences. Social barriers can be just as significant as physical or practical ones. 

Over 20% of Australians have a disability; however, many of these disabilities are not visible. Ableism is a set of beliefs and practices which devalues and discriminates against people with physical, intellectual, or psychosocial disabilities. Ableism relies on an understanding of disability where people with disability need to be 'fixed' in one way or another and is consistent with the medical model of disability. 

The social model of disability, however, acknowledges that barriers to inclusion and access are external to people with disability and that social expectations and physical barriers to access and inclusion are what need to be addressed. 

Racism. It Stops With Me

Racism comes in many forms. It happens in many places.

It can be easy to ignore it or think it’s not worth the trouble to respond.
But that can just help make it acceptable.
All of us can say no to prejudice.
All of us can take a stand against discrimination.

Cheers turned to boos in the final years of AFL champion footballer Adam Goodes' career when he publicly called out racism. The Final Quarter is an impassioned documentary film which tracks Australia's heated response to Adam Goodes and featured at the Sydney Film Festival in 2019.

Visit itstopswithme.humanrights.gov.au for information and resources. 

Bullying. No way!

The National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence will be held on Friday 20 March 2020. Australian schools are invited to register now and get involved.

The NDA 2020 marks the tenth anniversary of Australia's key anti-bullying event for schools. The theme for 2020 is Take Action Together. Information and resources are available for schools, teachers and parents online at www.bullyingnoway.gov.au  

National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence. Bullying. No Way! Take a Stand Together Friday 20 March 2020. www.builyingnoway.gov.au

Resilience skills

Quaden has since been in contact with a resilience coach from the United States, who is helping him to develop the skills and mind frame he needs to combat his feelings of sadness and suicide ideation. 

Interview with Quaden and his mum

National Indigenous Television (NITV) spoke to Quaden and his mum following the incident. NITV is the home of Indigenous storytelling and a part of the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) network. 

If this article has raised any issues for you, please talk to someone. You can contact Lifeline or Kids Helpline any time of day or night. 

Contact

Lifeline

Phone: 13 11 14 (24 hours 7 days)
Text: 0477 13 11 14 (6 pm - 12 am 7 days)
Crisis Support Chat: Connect now (7 pm - 12 am 7 days)
Website: www.lifeline.org.au 

Kids Helpline

Phone 1800 55 1800 (24 hours 7 days)
Web Chat: Connect now 
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
Website: www.kidshelpline.com.au 

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