deLara, Ellen 1949-

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deLARA, Ellen 1949-

PERSONAL: Born February 1, 1949, in Syracuse, NY; daughter of R. Jerry and T. June (Heick) Walser; married Thom deLara (a lecturer and healthcare specialist); children: Lynne, Eric, Joshua. Education: Cornell University, B.S.; Syracuse University, M.S.W.; Cornell University, Ph.D., 2000.

ADDRESSES: Home—Ithaca, NY. Office—Cornell University, Family Life Development Center, 118 Original Mann Bldg. Ithaca, NY 14853; fax: 607-255-8562. E-mail—[email protected].

CAREER: Educator, therapist, and researcher. Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, Family Life Development Center faculty fellow. Consultant to Suicide Prevention and Crisis Center, Ithaca.

MEMBER: American Psychological Association, National Rural Education Association, American Association of University Women, National Association of Social Workers, Academy of Certified Social Workers, National Register of Certified Social Workers, American Board of Examiners in Clinical Social Work.

AWARDS, HONORS: Fellowships from National Institute of Mental Health, Cornell University, and Syracuse University; numerous teaching awards; Hatch grant, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1999, for research on adolescents' perceptions of safety in rural high schools.


(With James Garbarino) And Words Can Hurt Forever: How to Protect Adolescents from Bullying, Harassment, and Emotional Violence, Free Press (New York, NY), 2002.

Also contributor, with James Garbarino, of essay "On the Anniversary of Columbine: Ten Lessons Learned and Forgotten" to Cornell University Web site.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Adults Can Stop Bullying: School-based intervention Programs, to be published by Houghton Mifflin.

SIDELIGHTS: Ellen deLara's research has been concentrated on violence against adolescents in the home and at school. She interviewed teens for over a decade in reaching her conclusions as to their perceptions of safety while in school and used her findings to work with families and school districts in correcting dangerous situations.

Metta Winter wrote about deLara's research at an unnamed school in upstate New York in Human Ecology, saying that "before deLara began her work, there were very few studies in which students were asked to describe the atmosphere in their school prior to a reported violent event. To get a sense of what students thought, deLara first surveyed then interviewed all types of students—athletes and nonathletes, top academic achievers, average students, and at-risk students." Although the school was presumed to be safe, deLara found that one third of the students felt unsafe in some way during each school day.

Winter noted that "the most problematic areas were the hallways, the cafeteria, the restrooms, the locker rooms, and the school grounds. Students were unanimous in their belief that teachers and administrators were not aware of the way students behave and the way they treat each other in those areas."

DeLara also discovered that many of the students felt teachers would not step in to protect them in a threatening situation. Some teachers admitted that this was true, often because when they had done so in the past, they had been assaulted themselves. Winter explained: "when adults abrogate their responsibility to take care of kids at school, then kids feel they must take care of themselves, deLara says. Their coping strategies aren't necessarily mature or effective: repeated absences is one, bringing weapons to school is another."

DeLara collaborated with James Garbarino, a professor and coworker at Cornell University's Family Life Development Center, on And Words Can Hurt Forever: How to Protect Adolescents from Bullying, Harassment, and Emotional Violence, which Booklist's Gillian Engberg said is written "in highly accessible, straightforward language directed toward parents." They spoke with students from many regions of the country in drawing their conclusions, including the fact that students are looking to parents and school staff for protection. The authors also conclude that self-confident, loved children are most likely to seek help when they are bullied or tormented. They address the issues of sexual harassment and stalking, as well as emotional abuse.

A Publishers Weekly contributor noted that deLara and Garbarino feel that teachers, counselors, and parents "must removed their nostalgically rooted, rose-colored lenses and listen to teens. … This effective guide will help adult readers truly understand the cruelty and violence present in today's schools."

DeLara told CA: "For as along as I can remember, I have been interested in the area of children and violence prevention, particularly emotional and psychological violence. Specific to my career as a therapist, I have attempted to intervene for adolescents and children in troubled family settings. As a researcher, my interest in violence prevention in schools stems first from my experience as a mother watching my own children attempt to navigate the difficulties of all forms of bullying at school, and second from a commitment to do something to change the current atmosphere for kids at school.

"I believe in the possibilities of change at a systemic level, and I believe a major change in the culture of schools is essential. Kids often go to an unwelcoming and hostile 'workplace' everyday. I find this unacceptable. As someone committed to change where needed and to social work principles, I hope my work will make a difference. Most importantly, I believe kids need a voice and an advocate, because they do not have enough power to change what is happening themselves."



Booklist, August, 2002, Gillian Engberg, review of And Words Can Hurt Forever: How to Protect Adolescents from Bullying, Harassment, and Emotional Violence, p. 1896.

Human Ecology, winter, 2001, Metta Winter, "Safe Schools," p. 21.

Publishers Weekly, July 1, 2002, review of And Words Can Hurt Forever, p. 66.

Washington Post, September 3, 2002, Gregory Mott, review of And Words Can Hurt Forever, p. F2.

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