Quaden Bayles‘ mother, Yarraka Bayles, has spoken of the death threats her family has received and called for better support against bullies at the Disability Royal Commission on Monday.
In the months since the video of Quaden crying went viral in Australia and around the world, Yarraka said her children and grandchildren have been copping abusive messages and death threats from complete strangers.
“People who think it’s their business to make comment,” she told the royal commission.
She explained that despite countless calls and emails to the school over the years, the bulling about Quaden’s dwarfism only stopped when the story made the news earlier this year.
Now the mother and son are pushing to introduce Quaden’s Law, which could look like an anonymous reporting mechanism for students to let their school know that they’re being bullied.
“It’s something that I have to do […] come up with some sort of legislation that hopefully improves statistics and lessens the bullying statistics in schools,” Yarraka added.
In a pre-recorded interview, Quaden himself was asked what he’d like to see change at school.
“Probably one more support worker, a Murri one,” he said.
“So when [the existing support worker] is away, I can have that one and he’s gonna be there.”
The testimony comes after the family reportedly received around $200,000 in a settlement from Daily Telegraph columnist Miranda Devine, who falsely tweeted to her tens of thousands of followers that Quaden was faking his tears in the viral video.
Yarraka said she’s less concerned with punishing bullies and more focused on making sure Quaden – and all students who’re bullied for being disabled – feel safe going to school each day.
“I would rather not call these kids bullies,” she said.
“I don’t believe they want to hurt kids. They don’t understand the consequence of their actions. I don’t want to get kids expelled or suspended because that doesn’t help.”
She even said it’s not about blaming the school, but changing the way we treat people with disabilities as a society.
“I don’t blame them or the school, in some respects,” she said.
“There’s just not enough education around kids with disabilities, let alone Murri kids with disabilities, in school.”