When Yarraka Bayle posted a video online of her nine-year-old son crying and saying he wants to die after near-constant ridicule for his dwarfism, hearts across the world broke collectively.
“This is what bullying does,” Yarraka says in the video as her son Quaden sobs, hiding his face. “I’ve just picked my son up from school, witnessed a bullying episode, rang the principal, and I want people to know – parents, educators, teachers – this is the effect that bullying has. Every single day, something happens. Another episode, another bullying, another taunt, another name-calling. Can you please educate your children, your families, your friends?”
The video went viral the same day it was uploaded. While there are some negative opinions on young Quaden’s condition in the comments, he has received international support. Actor Hugh Jackman told Quaden that he is “stronger than you know, mate” and called on everyone to “be kind”.
9 year old wanting to commit suicide due to being bullied. 💔💔💔🥺 pic.twitter.com/DysTrmlaiD
— YouDontNeedToKnowMyName (@S11E11B11A) February 20, 2020
American comedian Brad Williams, who has the same dwarfism condition of Achondroplasia, said he had raised more than $130,000 (£100,000) in under a day to send the family to Disneyland.
“This isn’t just for Quaden, this is for anyone who has been bullied in their lives and told they weren’t good enough,” he wrote on the fundraising page. “Let’s show Quaden and others, that there is good in the world and they are worthy of it.”
The words #StopBullying were trending on Twitter as people detailed their own experiences with bullying and urged Quaden to remain strong.
Eric Trump, son of US President Donald Trump, described the video as “absolutely heartbreaking”. Basketball star Enes Kanter told Quaden that “the world is behind” him and invited the family to an NBA game.
Sports teams in Australia have also rallied behind Quaden, and the indigenous rugby league side has invited him to lead the team in a match.
What are the laws surrounding bullying in South Africa?
Bullying is a problem that stretches across the world with many South Africans having to deal with it on a daily basis. Here are South Africa laws and definitions behind the issue, according to salaw.com:
What is bullying?
Bullying can be defined as any abuse of real or perceived power that targets minors (anyone under the age of 18 in South Africa). This includes actions like physical attacks, purposeful alienation, spreading false rumours, verbal abuse and various forms of emotional mistreatment. This includes any form of cyber-bullying as well.
How are children’s right protected by South Africa law?
There are four stand-out Acts in the Constitution that focus on this. Do note: bullying hasn’t been recognised as a crime in South Africa yet, but children’s rights to dignity and safety are still safeguarded.
The South African Schools Act 84 of 1996 (SASA)
This law stipulates the all public schools must enforce a code of conduct, which is compiled by the relevant governing bodies of the institution. Of course, the purpose of this is to provide a basic set of rules regarding learner behaviour and performance. School should have specific procedures in place to deal with cases of bullying and relevant punishment.
If the school fails to take action; victims, parents or guardians are backed by other laws in the Constitution when it comes to seeking justice.
The Child Justice Act 75 of 2008
Building on the Children’s Act and emphasising that child offenders need to be held in different moral standards by society, the Child Justice Act also calls for restorative justice, but acknowledges that cases of bullying can contain a criminal element.
Therefore, the law call for a separate criminal justice system for children. This particular Act divides the persons to whom it applies into three categories: children below 10 years of age; children 10 years and older but younger than 18, and young people 18 years of age and older but under 21 years. In the context of learner-on-learner bullying at school, the perpetrator will usually be a child and would thus fall into one of the first two categories. Before considering the perpetrator’s criminal responsibility, it will have to be established whether the child has criminal capacity.
The Protection from Harassment Act 17 of 2011
This states that those who suffer at the hands of their fellow learners can apply for a protection order against their perpetrators. While a parent or legal guardian would usually do this, section 2(4) of the Protection from Harassment Act states that a child may apply for a protection order without the assistance of his or her parents.
If issued, the bully will no longer be allowed to harass the victim or ask anyone else to do so on his or her behalf. Depending on the circumstances, a court could also order a bully to attend therapy for the sake of rehabilitation.
Can a bully be arrested and go to jail?
If the bully is under the age of 10, they cannot be arrested. But, a bully over 10 can only be arrested as a last resort, and then handed over to their parents or legal guardians. In the unlikely event that the bully is detained, they must be kept separately from the adults and protected from any unfair treatment or abuse. Almost immediately after being arrested, the bully must be assessed by a probation officer and, within 48 hours, be taken to court for a preliminary hearing.