"48 Hours" focuses on bullying in the digital age

"Bullying: Words Can Kill," hosted by Tracy Smith, airs Friday, Sept. 16 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CBS

As a new school year begins across the country, more than 160,000 children will stay home every day because they are afraid of being bullied. That is just one of the startling facts in the CBS News/"48 Hours" presentation "Bullying: Words Can Kill."

Reported by correspondent Tracy Smith, the program airing Friday, Sept. 16 (8 p.m. ET/PT) reveals how the explosion in technology is only making bullying worse, as victims cannot find relief from their tormentors in a 24/7 digital world. The report will have important new information for parents, educators and legislators about how bullying affects children and how to address it.

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For six months, producers and camera crews were allowed in-depth access to the classrooms, cafeteria and gym at a Rhode Island middle school that is one of the few in the United States that has openly acknowledged it has a bullying problem and has taken action to address it. The "48 Hours" special documents the real lives of students at that particular school, and has the powerful stories of other young people and their families from around the country who have felt the impact of bullying firsthand.

One constantly harassed 14-year-old told Smith, "They got inside my head. They did it because they knew it would hurt." His mother said dropping him off at school was like "sending him off to war."

"If you have ever been bullied, harassed, tortured, which I hope you haven't, let me tell you, it is the worst. I mean, worst feeling ever," another 13-year-old bullying victim said. "You're laying in bed and you're just thinking, like... what would it be like if you're not here? Like... would it be better? Or, like, would people be happier - or just - just you wonder, you think a lot of questions."

Tragically, more than 150 children have taken their own lives in recent years because they were victims of harassment in school and online.

"We have principals in our schools and superintendents who don't want to acknowledge the problem. They don't want it to be their problem. I did as much as I could do as a parent, knowing as little as I did," says Cynthia Logan, a parent who lost her daughter because of bullying.

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