Disneyland isn’t going to stop the bullying.
Nine-year-old Quaden Bayles and his family have turned down a trip to Disneyland and nearly half a million dollars in crowdfunding money, after video of the Australian boy’s heartbreaking reaction to a bullying incident went viral last week.
“I want to kill myself!” the boy screams in the video, which his mother Yarraka Bayles broadcast on Facebook Live Feb. 19.
The video received more than 23 million views before Yarraka removed it from Facebook, and generated an intense flood of sympathy for the bullied child.
The Aboriginal boy was diagnosed with Achondroplasia dwarfism shortly after he was born, and his mother says the condition has forced him to endure bullying “every single freaking day” for many years.
Quaden’s tearful story reached people around the world, including from many celebrities.
Among those who responded to the video was Brad Williams, a comedian with dwarfism who launched a GoFundMe campaign to send Quaden to Disneyland. The fund had raised more than $473,000 by Thursday afternoon, but it appears as though the family won’t be taking Williams up on his offer.
The Bayles family thanked everyone for their support on Thursday, before declaring that they will not accept the trip or the cash for themselves.
“We want the money to go to community organizations that really need it,” Quaden’s aunt, Mundanara Bayles, told NITV News in Australia.
She says her sister Yarraka wants to keep the focus on the “real issue” at hand, which is the bullying Quaden faces on a daily basis. They also hope the money will save others from enduring the pain that Quaden faces on a regular basis.
“This little fella has been bullied,” Mundanara said. “How many suicides, black or white, in our society happened due to bullying?”
In the original video, Yarraka Bayles can be heard begging viewers for advice for dealing with her son’s bullying problem. Meanwhile, the boy can be seen sobbing and asking for a knife so he can kill himself.
“I’ve got to constantly keep my eye on him because of the suicide attempts,” she said at the time. “This is the impact that bullying has.”
Mundanara Bayles says the family wants to give the crowdfunding money to Dwarfism Awareness Australia, the Balunu Healing Foundation and two other charities that they believe could use the money most.
“We need to come together and work out how to make sure young people like Quaden don’t have to deal with what they have been dealing with,” she said. Mundanara also thanked Williams for his idea to send the family to Disneyland.
“What kind of kid wouldn’t want to go to Disneyland, especially if you have lived Quaden’s life,” she said.
Mundanara says the Bayles family have been in touch with Williams about the money.
Their decision to turn down the $479,000 comes amid a flurry of conspiracy theory-driven accusations online, where some have claimed that Quaden is an adult actor trying to profit off Facebook Live video. The boy’s Instagram account appears to have been taken down amid the backlash.
Global News has already verified Quaden’s age through years-old reports published in the Australian media, including one clip that shows him as a four-year-old in 2015.
The boy’s mother says she’s hoping to use the attention to push forward “Quaden’s Law,” a plan to make anti-bullying education mandatory in Australian schools.
Yarraka Bayles told NITV News that Quaden hasn’t gone back to school since the incident, and they’re waiting until “the time is right” to send him back.
Yarraka says she’s also working with the school to ensure that more education is provided around disability awareness, diversity and inclusion.
“It went OK,” she told NITV News. “They were all very supportive in helping to move forward.”
READ MORE: How to stop a bully when it’s your own child
She added that Quaden is doing well amid all of the attention, thanks in large part to the outpouring of unconditional love from all around the world.
The boy has also been visiting with his favourite sports stars and receiving messages from celebrities such as Hugh Jackman.
“Quaden is OK,” Yarraka said.
“He is spinning out a bit. We just have to protect our boy as best we can.”
The boy’s aunt says he’s been enjoying the time off from school, which has allowed him to play basketball and ping pong with his cousins.
“They get to see him more,” she said.
“He’s just an amazing kid that’s larger than life.”