Teen conquers longtime bullying
Rebecca Cuevas shows her manuscript and photographs on a laptop as she talks about her book, "Diary of a Big Girl: Live Life Large," in El Centro last week. "I was a loner," she said about growing up being bullied in elementary school. (JOSELITO VILLERO PHOTO / March 26, 2012)
There are estimated to be 2.1 million bullies and 2.7 million bullying victims in American schools, according to the National School Safety Center, an organization dedicated to school violence and crime prevention.
It is these millions of victims and their aggressors that Cuevas hopes to reach through sharing her tales of struggle. Now at age 18, she said she wants to empower and educate others in her self-published book, “The Diary of a Big Girl,” which will be released in the fall.
“We are a very quiet Valley, and we wouldn’t think that the nationwide issue of bullying is happening here, but it is,” Cuevas said. “I don’t think there was one person in high school that wasn’t told how they should look or how they should act.”
Although school bullying has been prevalent for years, bullying has become much more sophisticated from the original concept of a face-to-face intimidation ploy, said Miriam Belopolsky, director of Student Well-Being and Family Resources at the Imperial County Office of Education. She said bullying now can appear both very covert and overt, and is taken very seriously.
Victims of bullying may have endured a number of different forms of bullying, Belopolsky said.
Cuevas’ experiences with verbal and social bullying eventually led to her hurting herself, she said, in being affected by the disease of bulimia, which she has since gotten under control.
“I became my own worst enemy,” Cuevas said.
Although Cuevas’ experiences in bullying have significantly shaped her life, she said that some of the best support she had during her difficult times was the support and aid Brawley Union High School offered her every day of her high school career.
“The way Brawley High handled my situation was amazing. They made me feel comfortable about speaking about these problems. I didn’t feel misplaced talking to someone about them,” Cuevas said.
Belopolsky said each of the 17 school districts in Imperial County has its own policies regarding bullying, however, all schools extensively train and educate their staffs on bullying and the multiple forms it takes.
Cuevas suggests that if an individual is being bullied the best thing to do is to reach out to someone.
“It took a lot out of me to reach out to somebody, but I don’t regret it. You should never go through the battle alone,” she said.
Although Cuevas said she is still bullied even in college, she has grown to accept herself the way she is.
“I just need to handle it differently. The scars will be there I just need to force myself to see that I am beautiful,” she said.
Celeste Alvarez is an Imperial Valley College journalism major interning with the Imperial Valley Press for the spring semester.
To commemorate Public Schools Week, some schools in El Centro will have activities aimed at informing parents and students about bullying.
8:30 a.m. Take a stand against bullying — Hedrick Elementary School
8:30 a.m.Bullying awareness workshop — Hedrick Elementary School
8:30 a.m. Anti-bullying student conference — Sunflower Elementary School
6:15 p.m. Take a stand against bullying — Wilson Junior High School
6:30 p.m. Take a stand against bullying — Kennedy Middle School
8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. Take a stand against bullying — Hedrick Elementary School