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Parents speak out on bullying after son's death

[Editor's note: Kevin Jacobsen, an anti-bullying advocate from Monroe, N.Y., who spoke with CBS News in September 2011 for the story below, took his own life in early January 2012, near the one-year anniversary of the death of his 14-year-old son, Kameron -- a victim of bullying. Read more]

The Obama administration is holding its third summit on bullying next week in Washington, D.C. It's a huge problem for American kids. By one estimate, as many as 160,000 students stay home on any given day because they're afraid of bullies.

In January in Monroe, N.Y., a 14-year-old victim took his own life. And now his parents are fighting back.

Special Section: Bullying - Words Can Kill
Special Section: Eye on Parenting

Kameron Jacobsen was a pint sized ninth grader with an outsized personality who was bullied to his breaking point, CBS News Correspondent Tracy Smith reported.

Kevin Jacobsen, Cameron's father, said, "You know, I think we understand that sometimes kids are bullies, right? But they don't understand what bullying is, or what its consequences are, or you know, how badly it can actually hurt people."

Despite almost daily attacks, Kameron kept most of it to himself, so his dad Kevin has been piecing together emails and postings on social networks, getting an idea of just how vicious the bullying was.

Kevin Jacobsen said, "I mean it's just I can't imagine what it's like."

Asked if it was torture, Kevin Jacobsen said, "It's gotta be. Psychological torture. Emotional torture. You go back and you see and each one is just another drop of water in the glass and eventually the glass overflows."

On Jan. 18, 2011, Kameron hung himself in his bedroom.

It's estimated that since 1983, there've been more than 150 documented cases of young people committing suicide after being bullied.

Wanda Jacobsen said, "How much pain were you in? How much pain were you in? Because I'm in so much pain. And he must have been so hurt by people that he even called friends."

In the nine months since Kameron's death, the Jacobsens haven't sought punishment for his bullies. Instead, they're raising awareness about bullying.

Wanda Jacobsen said, "I don't have to fight any more. I don't have a child in a school system. But I'm there to fight for everyone else. I'm there to stand with them and figure something out, because it has to stop."

And the Jacobsens hope the story of Kameron's tragically short life might save others.

Kevin and Wanda Jacobsen appeared on "The Early Show" with more about their story and what they're doing today in his memory.

Wanda Jacobsen said, "We don't want any other family to experience what we've gone through. In the bullying issues with Kameron, how the impact had brought him so much pain that he couldn't live with it and decided that - to end his life. And to us, we never want that in any other family, anywhere."

Learn More: Kindness Without Malice

Kevin added, "It's an incredible phenomenon. We're reading about families that are losing children all across the country. A 12-year-old girl three weeks ago. Every once in a while the press does pick it up and you see it, but we only think the numbers are going to grow. The 24/7 phenomenon of cyber bullying, cell phone, the trolling that's taking place on some of the memorial sites. There's just an idea out there that this is almost like a sport where people, children in particular, can gang up on each other anonymously and deliberately hurt somebody. And we've experienced hurt in the worst possible way."

The Jacobsens were approached by their son about the bullying.

"I don't think anybody has the idea it's going to end up this way," Kevin said. "When Kameron came to us, we addressed it. The difficulty is we know Kameron, and Kameron had a two-and-a-half year history of being bullied. He was assaulted, and in the hospital and went through painful surgery and rehab so we know him personally. He's our son. So when we approached the school about the situation, we knew that it couldn't be handled in the traditional sense. This is an unconventional phenomenon. So we had to come up with an idea that fit the circumstance. And that's the problem families face in America, it's almost like a one-size-fits-all across the country. And it's failing."

Kevin Jacobsen said this can happen to any child. "Once the parents realize we are in the driver's seat - government and schools should answer to us. If we get the awareness out there and realize there are programs, there are procedures that can take place, 7,000 schools use a training framework that works and it includes parents and communities as a whole and it does reduce the numbers. They have to be involved."

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