NEW YORK (AP) — The CBS magazine "48 Hours" is using the story of a Massachusetts teenager killed by her ex-boyfriend to draw attention to the issue of violence after young people end romantic relationships.
The show airs Saturday at 10 p.m. Eastern. Susan Zirinsky, senior executive producer of the newsmagazine, said Wednesday she felt the 2011 murder of Lauren Dunne Astley of Wayland, Mass., by Nathaniel Fujita could have value beyond the typical crime tale.
"This isn't just a story for us," she said. "We feel like we can have a real impact."
CBS plans to give the issue attention on radio and its online properties, and Zirinsky said the show will likely be made available to educators who want to show it in schools. In the program, correspondent Tracy Smith hopes to give viewers information about signs in a relationship that could point to future trouble. One piece of advice that sadly could have helped Astley: Don't visit an ex alone after a breakup.
Some experts in the field said they've been startled over the past few years — as Smith was during her report — about the number of teenagers who say they've seen abusive relationships. Casey Corcoran, of the Boston organization Futures Without Violence, said the group had a waiting list in the hundreds when it sponsored a "breakup summit" for teenagers.
Zirinsky is convinced that social media makes life tougher for teens. When lives are fully documented on sites like Facebook, it increases the shame and hurt when relationships end, she said.
Astley broke up with Fujita, a star receiver for the school football team in suburban Boston, after a three-year relationship. He was having trouble dealing with the breakup, and his mother asked Lauren to talk to him.
Astley's old friends tell of troubling signs in the relationship and aftermath, including one incident where he angrily punched a tent post at a party and almost brought it down.
Astley's father, Malcolm, a retired school principal, has sought to make dating violence protection a part of school curriculums. He said he made the difficult decision to cooperate with CBS in telling his daughter's story because he was convinced it would be handled well.
"People are fascinated by horror," he said. "We wanted to make sure it was factual and understanding, and not just about the horror."