Tejano singer Steve "Stevie D" Dominguez is using his platform for a purpose.
In an exclusive interview with Univision, we asked Dominguez about a recent viral video he posted to his Facebook page, urging people to stop bullying.
In the video, Dominguez addresses the camera directly.
"Hi, I'm Stevie D. Bullying isn't okay. The statistics are crazy and the numbers are growing fast. 280,000 kids are being bullied every single day. 160,000 kids won't go to school for fear of being bullied. One out of every 4 kids at school is being bullied. Bullying is happening everywhere, not just at school. One out of every five kids will admit to being a bully. Seven minutes. Every seven minutes a kid is being bullied. And finally, we are losing 2,200 lives, on an average per year, to suicide directly related to bullying. Don't be cruel, be cool. Stop the bullying. Thanks."
The video has now been viewed over 5,000 times.
Dominguez says his original idea to use his voice to combat bullying started around 2016-2017, when he was planning a return to the music industry with a solo career.
"I was looking for something to use my platform for something good," Dominguez said. "I think that a lot of artists at any stage can use their platform whether they are reaching one person or one million people."
Then, one evening while sitting around the house watching the news with his wife, Dominguez saw the story of a young girl in California who took her own life after being bullied in school. The girl was 13-year-old Rosalie Avila, an "excellent student" who dreamed of becoming a lawyer and writer and who enjoyed dancing. Avila made national headlines after she was found unresponsive by her brother, after hanging herself in a closet. She had been viciously bullied in school, by classmates who taunted her for having braces and called her ugly. Avila left behind a note: "Sorry, Mom and Dad. I love you. …" In a second note, she apologized to her mother. "Sorry, Mom," it read, "that you're going to find me like this." After discovering her body, Avila's family kept her on life support long enough to ensure that her organs could be donated.
"I looked at my wife and said that's it. That's what I am going to do. That's what I am going to use my platform for," Dominguez said. "If i ever reach a level where I can reach a few people, a few hundred or whatever. THAT is who I am going to defend."
Fast forward to a year or so later to present day. A promoter from the Houston-Angleton area gave him a call and asked if he was available on April 21 to do an anti-bullying event with fellow Tejano artists Jay Perez and Shelly Lares.
Dominguez agreed on the spot. Then, the promoter asked a few of the artists who were performing to record short clips talking about the issue. Dominguez watched Elida Reyna's video and then recorded his own version of the message.
"I was bullied by a kid when I was in elementary school," Dominguez said. "My little brother defended me when this bigger kid was bullying me, so I think that is where it came from. I used to get bullied, and then when I would come home, he would make fun of me and then we would get over it. But things are different now."
Now, Dominguez is also using his knowledge and passion about helping people to help his an 8-year-old daughter.
"Getting myself more educated about the topic and the situation of the epidemic in this country made me more aware and made me practice making my 8-year-old a little more aware of [bullying] it is," Dominguez said. "In turn, it has made her interested in making sure that she stands up for someone else. And I'm so proud of that."
Despite the numbers of suicide as a result of bullying, Dominguez says he is hopeful that a solution can be reached starting in schools and at home. He believes that a strong foundation will ultimately lead to our leaders and government getting involved, saying "At the ground level, that is where the wars are won."
Speaking on the topic of leaders getting involved, we also asked Dominguez about his feelings about First Lady Melania Trump's choice to combat 'bullying' as her official platform, considering that her husband, the President, has received criticism for his aggressive tweets aimed at other people.
"I am kind of torn by that politically. If i narrow it down to just the bullying, I commend [Melania] for doing so," Dominguez said. "I'm not going to disrespect the Office of the Presidency. I am a war veteran of this country and I respect the presidency, or at least, the office of it." He continues. "[Melania] is portraying a very good role of what she is doing. The numbers of cyber-bullying are spreading faster than the any other epidemic has since the Black Plague, and that's a very serious deal because every day, kids are getting phones. Every day, kids are getting iPads and they are starting new Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts and that is something that is very hard to control when it comes to cyberbullying. I do think she is on the right track."
While there is a long way to go, Dominguez believes that every little bit makes a difference. "If we can save just one life with this message, then we did something good."