Cody Simpson has it pretty sweet, right? The 15-year-old pop star from Australia's Gold Coast was an award-winning swimmer before his music career took off online. Not only did the then-preteen's bedroom Timberlake covers blow-up Justin Bieber-style, but last year he even snagged Biebz boy-genius manager Scooter Braun.
But as much as Cody's life may seem as golden as the coast he grew up on, the truth is that being famous doesn't mean you don't have feelings -- or that those feelings aren't as easily hurt as anyone else's.
"Cyberbullying is something that I experience online everyday, you know? Being a public figure a lot of people will really love what you do, but you know there is also a ton of people who will hate on it," Simpson told HuffPost Canada at Free the Children's We Day youth rally in Vancouver last month, a city still reeling from the suicide of bullying victim Amanda Todd.
A one-hour MuchMusic special featuring highlights from the Vancouver and Toronto We Day events will include performances by Simpson, Nelly Furtado, Demi Lovato, One Republic and K'naan.
SEE: The stars at We Day Vancouver 2012. Story continues below:
"Everyone experiences that, but I just try my best," says Simpson. "Obviously, you can see how severe it can go [with Amanda Todd] and it's important to do our best to prevent situations like that because it's terrible."
Simpson says parents simply don't understand the new online world of bullying 2.0 because they're only familiar with the traditional schoolyard variety.
"Because that is how they grew up with it," says Simpson. "There's this whole new technology element now that pretty much only the new generation really understands. It definitely ups the ante. People feel so much more comfortable bullying behind a screen than in person. It gives them a mystique and makes them say things that they would never be strong enough to say in person. And when people feel more comfortable behind the screen, they definitely take it much more extreme. But it still hurts the same way."
As well as appearing at events like We Day -- which will have 10 events this year, including their first American rally in Seattle -- Simpson is part of a campaign called Defeat the Label, a youth organization dedicated to promoting "a bully-free society without social labels and stereotypes."
In a video for the group, Simpson shared his own experience of not fitting in with the other boys, because he preferred playing music to playing sports. The bullying, of course, only skyrocketed once he became well-known.
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"It kind of happens every day and in the beginning it was something that... right now I have kind of grown almost numb to it. I make sure not to look it up now, but in the beginning I was literally, like, looking up hate messages," he says. "People say these things. They don't even know you. It does hurt a little bit. They didn't even have a chance to know you as a person and all they see is what is online. When someone sees a person doing that it kind of snowballs and people start to think it's okay."
But whether being cyberbullied by strangers or classmates, Simpson says it's incredibly important to not be bullied into silence. As he put it in a Build-a-Bear campaign for Stop Cyberbullying Month: "always remember to stop, block and tell."
"You really kind of have to relay that it isn't cool," he says. "A lot of people do it to try and defend their own insecurities and try and take it out on other people. You really got to let them know that they should talk to parents and friends and teachers and family about their own issues rather than taking it out on other people with their own things to worry about."
MUCH PRESENTS WE DAY 2012, premiering on MuchMusic Sunday, Nov. 11 at 7 p.m. ET/PT.