By MAXINE SHEN
Last Updated: 5:11 AM, July 3, 2010
Demi Lovato is using her tween fame to address TV’s latest hot-button topic — bullying.
“Real Housewives of New York’s” Kelly Bensimon created a homemade PSA against “systematic bullying” — and the Cartoon Network and CNN are readying a new fall anti-bullying campaign — so it’s no surprise that the once-bullied star of Disney Channel’s hit “Sonny With a Chance” is speaking out about the subject.
“Bullying is a very serious thing to me, I’ve witnessed it first hand — I was bullied myself when I was 12,” says Lovato, now 17, referring to how classmates picked on her because she was a working actress. Things got so bad, she turned to home schooling.
Lovato, who’s hooked up with teensagainstbullying.org, says that her 8-year-old little sister Madison De La Garza, who stars on “Desperate Housewives,” has helped inspire her passion for the subject.
“She’s getting to that age where she could start becoming insecure,” Lovato says. “I want to be able to help other girls around her age come into their own with a strong confidence in their skin, their size, who they are and everything about themselves.”
Many teen stars bristle at the notion of having role model status thrust upon them, but Lovato says she’s fine with it.
“Nobody wants pressure and wants to be under a magnifier glass, but there are ways to be role models without claiming to be perfect,” she says.
“I’m learning and dealing with experiences that all teenagers go through. The way I want to be a role model is not by not making mistakes . . . but by helping people overcome things from the obstacles that I’ve overcome.
“That’s how I want to use my voice and that’s how I want to be a role model.”