As students are heading back to school for the start of a new year of learning, for many, the focus is beyond the scope of the textbook.
Every day, 160,000 kids miss school because they're afraid of being bullied, according to the National Crime Prevention Council. And when they don't skip school, students say they walk school halls with feelings of desperation, fear and hopelessness -- a constant battle that one mother told CBS correspondent Tracy Smith that she sees just dropping her son Johnny off at school.
"I felt like every day, I was sending him off to war," Lisa Cagno told Smith.
CBS' 48 Hours aired a special this week, Bullying: Words Can Kill, that featured several students from Birchwood Middle School in North Providence, R.I. CBS followed the students for six months to tell their stories and to delve into the school's efforts to combat bullying.
"You can be bullied for anything nowadays," Johnny Cagno tells Smith in the segment. "You're judged, constantly, whether it's your orientation, your clothing, how you look. You know, everything."
Studies have shown that beyond the emotional trauma associated with being bullied, students who report being bullied see lower GPAs, especially high achieving blacks and Latinos. Most recently, New Jersey instituted in its schools what is considered to be the toughest anti-bullying law in the country, and its measures have garnered both praise and criticism.
In addition to the full segment above, 48 Hours has added several Web extras that were not aired, focusing even more on the students that are featured in the special. Smith also includes a piece on what she was able to learn about bullying by working on the piece for 48 Hours.
"If these children had knives in their hands, she would've been dead a long time ago," one mother says in the piece as she reflects on her daughter being bullied. "The words can kill."