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People Keep Saying Bullied 9-Year-Old Is Actually 18 — Here's Proof They're Wrong

Amy Pilkington 22 Feb 2020

I didn't want to be writing this story this morning, but here I am having to defend a child who is already traumatized by real-life bullying against the onslaught that is the social media pile-on.

Please be aware that this story contains references to bullying and suicide.

Over the last 48 hours or so, the world has become obsessed with a nine-year-old boy named Quaden Bayles.

Quaden is an Australian of indigenous descent with Achondroplasia, a form of dwarfism, which has resulted in years of bullying from his peers and according to his mom, Yarraka, multiple suicide attempts.

After witnessing an incident firsthand, Yarraka was fed-up and live-streamed on Facebook as a hysterical Quaden repeatedly said that he wanted to kill himself.

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To say that the outpouring of support was incredible would be an understatement.

The hashtag #WeStandWithQuaden began to trend, celebrities began sending messages of support, and comedian Brad Williams set up a GoFundMe campaign hoping to raise $10,000 to send the Bayles family to Disneyland with the remaining funds being donated to anti-bullying charities.

That campaign has so far raised almost $500,000, as of this writing.

I wrote about Quaden's story in an article yesterday, because it's a great, heartwarming tale.

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At the time I was writing it, the swell was just beginning to rise and so the trolls weren't out in force yet.

So I found it shocking when the comments were suddenly flooded with claims that the whole story was a scam and Quaden is an 18-year-old actor trying to make money off a faked viral video.

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Which was news to me.

I had spent a couple of hours reading every article I could find, scanning the family's social media accounts, and not once had I found anything that made me question that Quaden is who he says he is.

Due to the claims in the comments, I looked again. As did many other news outlets and fact-checking companies.

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Know what we all found? Quaden Bayles is a 9-year-old indigenous Australian boy with dwarfism who was bullied to the point of threatening suicide.

Imgur

He is not 18. The main source of this rumor was a series of now-deleted Instagram photos of Quaden at a birthday party. In one, he stands with a number of other people next to a glowing number 18.

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Because apparently standing next to a number is proof of a person's age?

If that's the case, every birthday party I have for the rest of my life will have giant, glowing 29 signs everywhere.

The birthday in question did happen, but the party was for a guy named Garlen. Quaden was just a guest.

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In fact, one of the images left out of the "proof" of Quaden's age is one that clearly shows that it's Garlen's party.

Snopes

This is how misinformation spreads. People pick and choose which items to use as evidence to back their assumptions and leave out the parts that prove them wrong.

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Additionally, this isn't the first time that Quaden's difficulties with dwarfism and bullying have been news.

In 2015, an Australian newscast featured then-four-year-old Quaden and his mum as the boy got ready to undergo another surgery related to his condition. They were trying to raise awareness of dwarfism through a campaign called Stand Up For Dwarfism.

If you were to believe that Quaden is currently 18, then you'd have to believe that the child in the video is 13, which is ridiculous.

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Additionally, other images "proving" that Quaden is an adult, a bad kid, or rich are either clear photoshop fakes or taken out of context.

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In the above group, the images with the gun and the money are clearly fake. The pasting of Quaden's face into the photos isn't even done well.

The other two are more believable, but even if they are really of Quaden, what kid hasn't tried to act out or look "cool" in photos by mimicking older kids?

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And then there is the claim that he is an "actor".

StarNow

This comes from a legitimate StarNow agency page. However, when you scroll down, you can see that there are only credits for Quaden's appearance in an episode of Living Black. Living Black is an indigenous current affairs program that features members of the community.

Presumably, the page was set up to manage the fact that Quaden's dwarfism and his family's awareness campaign could result in more TV spots or articles. The fact that it is "managed by Quaden's guardian" is more evidence that he is a child.

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So there you have it.

Quaden Bayles is not a rich adult with dwarfism who has teamed up with his mother for an elaborate, multi-year social media scam to get the world to pay for a trip to Disneyland.

That's convoluted and silly, and likely the product of some trolls thinking it would be funny to spread a rumor to undercut an otherwise heartwarming story about a child clearly traumatized by the continual bullying he's received by racists and ableists.

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And by sharing those claims far and wide, people being duped by those trolls are actually contributing to that very same bullying.

Instead, let's just celebrate the support Quaden has been receiving, such as last night when he got to walk out onto the field with the National Rugby League's Indigenous team.

h/t: Snopes, News.com.au

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