Speaker Comes to MacDuffie to Talk About Consent and Boundaries

Stephanie Baird spoke at MacDuffie about consent and boundaries on Friday February 8.  
Photo provided by Stephanie Baird

Stephanie Baird spoke at MacDuffie about consent and boundaries on Friday February 8. Photo provided by Stephanie Baird

Vinny Buono, Senior Staff Writer

On Feb. 8, Stephanie Baird, a certified therapist and counselor, came to speak to the MacDuffie community about consent and boundaries in the 21st century. According to Baird, every person should be aware of consent and boundaries and know the effect they can have on a person.

Students listened to ways that they could approach a situation when feeling uncomfortable or exploited. Baird gave many examples of what you could say in order to handle such situations including, “I am not doing that,” “I don’t think I should do this,” or “Please stop, I’m not comfortable with this.”

Many students were excited to see and hear what Baird was going to tell and share. Anybody could be dealing with issues that most don’t even know about and the presentation was geared to help such people in difficult situations. Senior Louis Santiago was interested and really blown away at the presentation.

“I learned that words can make a huge difference in certain situations, especially when you are uncomfortable,” Santiago said. “People need help and sometimes they just need people to listen.”

Baird wanted to get the message across that everybody has the ability to say something when they don’t want to do something and that feeling uncomfortable is normal, but when you do feel uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to speak up.

Baird showed a video that gave a different perspective on forcing people do thing they don’t want to do. It explained that people can change their mind anytime; they don’t always stick to what they say. You have to be able to understand that and not force someone to do something they are not comfortable with. Junior Cam Corliss took the video very seriously and it caused him to have a new idea about this topic.

“I never really thought that way before; when I think about it now, I change my mind all the time after I agreed to something before,” Corliss said. “People have the right to do what they want and we have to respect that.”

Baird is a certified therapist and counselor. She has been practicing for nearly 20 years and has experience in many categories such as PTSD, trauma recovery, and sexual abuse. Baird works out of South Hadley, MA, where she helps many clients from as young as 6 up to 65 and older.

Baird first became interested in helping people when she was in middle school. A friend of hers was thinking of committing suicide and she was able to talk to her friend for many hours and discuss the problems that she was dealing with.

“I liked being able to be there to talk to and be able to help with people’s problems,” Baird said.

Later in college she received her Master’s Degree in Counsel Psychology from the University of North Texas.

Talking at schools is something that Baird has been doing for quite some time. In a previous job where she worked as a Rape Crisis counselor Baird went to many high schools giving talks on teen dating violence and healthy relationships.

Baird, who specializes in trauma, says a lot of people come in dealing with problems from their past experiences, which can have a serious impact on people at any age or anytime.

“Mostly women come in who have had sexual trauma or are from dysfunctional homes where other people have traumatized them or parents were not involved or had alcohol problems,” Baird said. She also added that “people can be hurt at any age so talking to people in middle school is important because they could have had harmful events in the past.”

Dean of Students Trish Cox wanted the students to hear about this topic. Learning information and gaining the knowledge about it is very beneficial to High School students growing up in their community.

“At the age that high schoolers are at, this topic is very important,” Cox said. “The difference of 2-3 ages can be huge in certain situations.” She added, “students need to be aware and have background knowledge about this topic.”

MacDuffie’s community is a place where people learn and grow. Everybody here can help anyone and we should learn to appreciate that more than we do.

“The MacDuffie community is a safe and protective community. People are here to help and when we feel uncomfortable or we feel something is wrong we have to speak up and say something, either to the person causing it or we need to get help for the person,” Cox said.

She added, “We are very happy that our students got to experience this topic and learn about the problems that we face in this generation.”