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Concordia Portland Instructor Works To Disarm Bullies

By The Room 241 Team August 17, 2011

Concordia University-Portland instructor and Massachusetts’ Pentucket Regional Middle School Principal Debra Lay works to reduce bullying in schools.

Dr. Lay holds a Master of Education in Creative Arts and Learning, and a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership. Her doctoral dissertation, Exploring How Teachers’ Personal Experiences with Childhood Bullying Influence Their Response to Student Bullying, was her first foray into the fight against bullying.

Anti-bullying starts at home

She has also been a keynote speaker for an anti-bullying workshop for parents in which she crafted and implemented an anti-bullying protocol, delivered an Induction Program Academy on classroom discipline, and created and taught a seminar on the importance of the home-to-school connection. Her efforts and approach were featured in a 2011 Phoenix Focus interview.

Lay’s four steps to “bully proof your child” are designed so parents can help teachers prevent bullying before it starts. They are:

  1. Educate yourself about what bullying is (there can be subtle bullying as well as overt bullying)
  2. Monitor your child’s electronic communications
  3. Stay in touch with school officials
  4. Remember that you know best

In middle school, Lay said, many students find themselves on a “speeding train” of change — everything from the physical changes of puberty to shifting personality issues to explorations of ideas, expectations for the future and concepts of personal identity. Lay’s goal is to help guide these students on the right path, to encourage a happier school community and less bullying.

Peers help build a safe community

“After coming here [Pentucket Regional Middle School] and absorbing the culture for a year, my goal is to make this feel like more of a community,” Lay said in the 2011 interview.

For teachers seeking more information about how to put a stop to school-ground bullying, Lay recommends the Anti-Defamation League’s “A World of Difference” program, which concentrates on training that leads to peer-to-peer intervention.

“It’s a really wise way to get the word out about what your school should be, or what you want it to become, or what the students with some real powerful voices can make it through their own education,” Lay emphasizes. “For me, this is the No. 1 priority: having the kids teach one another.”

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