I am currently Professor of Education for Social Change. I have held various posts at the University of Strathclyde including Senior Vice-Dean for the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences and also Head of the School of Education. I currently serve as Chair of the Scottish Council of Deans of Education (2018-2020). I am a developmental psychologist specialising in the study of bullying behaviour and its psychological impact. I am also a member of UKRI: Economic and Social Research Council's (ESRC) Strategic Advisory Network (2019-2022), and have served on the ESRC's Grant Assessment Panel A for four years (2015-2019).
Prior to joining Strathclyde, I was Professor of Human Development at Brunel University London and served as Subject Leader (Head of Department) for Sport Sciences and subsequently served as Head of the School of Sport and Education. I have also held chairs in applied psychology (York St John University) and Community Psychology (Queen Margaret University Edinburgh where I was also Head of Psychology). Since 2010 I have been visiting professor of Anglia Ruskin University (Faculty of Health, Education, Medicine and Social Care). In 2019 I was appointed Visiting Professor in the School of Social Sciences and Humanities at the University of Suffolk.
I have served on two federal expert panels convened by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
The first panel’s goal was to develop a uniform definition of bullying that will guide public health surveillance of bullying behaviours/experiences in the U.S., and identify/recommend critical data elements that should be captured in support of public health surveillance of those bullying behaviours or experiences. The report and recommendations for the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) was published on the 22nd January, 2014.
The second panel, convened by the Division of Adolescent School Health (DASH) focused on understanding the relationship between youth involvement in bullying, and suicide–related behaviours including attempts, fatalities, and risk factors associated with suicide. The research studies underpinning the discussions of this expert panel were published in The Journal of Adolescent Health in June, 2013 and synthesised into a report published by the CDC entitled:
I have also written for the Times Educational Supplement (TES) and for the American journal 'The New Civil Rights Movement'.
Articles in the Times Educational Supplement (TES)
Empower Pupils to Beat the Bullies (11th May, 2012)
Homophobia Hasn’t Gone Away (20th June, 2012)
Bully and Victim: Busting the Myths (29th June, 2012)
Bruises Fade but the Hurt Remains (17th August, 2012)
Sport Can Bring Out The Bullies (12th October, 2012)
Bullying is a Political Issue (30th November, 2012)
The Path to Sexual Violence (25th January, 2013)
Should We Lay Down the Law (1st March, 2013)
Closing the Book on Discrimination (4th April, 2013)
Intervention is Half the Battle Against Bullying (3rd May, 2013)
Get Parents Onside to Combat Bullying (7th June, 2013)
To Tackle Bullying, You Need to Define It (5th July, 2013)
Protect the Witnesses (20th September, 2013)
How To Be A Leading Light (15th November, 2013)
We Have the Weapons to beat Cyberbullying (7th February, 2014)
Before You Act, Test the Evidence (2nd May, 2014)
Take a Long Hard Look at Mentoring (14th September, 2014)
Use Student Oracles to Gain Delphi Wisdom (20th February, 2015)
For over two decades I have devoted my career to understanding bullying in schools and, particularly, how bullying affects the mental health and well-being of adolescents. I am particularly interested in bias-based bullying and how its impacts upon those who experience it and witness it. In the 1990s the focus of my research was on the nature and long-term correlates of homophobic bullying. It was conducted at a time when Section 28 (2A in Scotland) of the Local Government Act was in full force and also when few organisations (including LGBT organisations), other than a few key unions (NASUWT, NUT and UNISON), were willing to listen and acknowledge that this had been and continued to be an issue in British schools.
My more recent research, conducted with colleagues from various universities in the U.K. and U.S., has focused on text and-email bullying and the experiences of witnesses. Working collaboratively with local education authorities, our studies have shown that, across five years (2001-2006), text and e-mail bullying rose with the take-up of technology by young people transitioning to high school. We have also shown that students who witness bullying at school not only are affected by that experience but share a number of similarities with victims. Issues such as feelings of powerlessness, witnessing bias-based bullying and cognitive dissonance are associated with an increased likelihood of engaging in self-harming and destructive behaviours.
My research increasingly includes the integration of theories drawn from educational policy, social and developmental psychology with aspects of cognitive psychology (particularly implicit and explicit reasoning) to better understand the train of thought that takes an individual form a position of safety to one of potential harm. I hope that this research can be applied to many contexts and fields of study.
HONOURS AND AWARDS
2001, The British Psychological Society's Award for Promoting Equality of Opportunity in the United Kingdom.
2007, Fellow, The American Psychological Association
2010, Fellow, The British Psychological Society
2014, Fellow, The Academy of Social Sciences
For over fifteen years his research career has established a foundation of knowledge on the bullying and victimization of sexual minority youth that has formed the basis of research in the U.S. and in other English-speaking countries.
Division 44, American Psychological Association, 2007.
Ian Rivers' research on students' mental health shows that students who witness bullying are more likely to use tobacco or alcohol, to be depressed, and to miss or skip school.
U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, 21st September, 2011
The leading empirical researcher in the area, whose work is relied on by Stonewall and campaigning groups.
Professor Daniel Monk (Birkbeck, University of London) in the International Journal of Law in Context, 7 (2), p. 188.
Professor Ian Rivers is probably one of the foremost global authorities on homophobic and transphobic bullying and its potential harm to LGBT children and adolescents, as well as its cumulative effects on LGBT adults in later life.
GayNZ.com, 1st September, 2013.
SERVICE TO LGBTI & EDUCATION COMMUNITY
In addition to my academic work, I am patron of two charities, LGBT History Month and FFLAG. I also serve on the board of trustees of Schools Out UK, the national board for LGBT Youth Scotland and board of trustees for TIE. Previously, I served as chair of trustees for Ditch the Label (2013-2016). From 2010 to 2015 I served on the American Psychological Association's (APA) Fellows Committee (Vice-Chair, 2010-2011; Chair, 2011-2012) assessing applications for fellow status within the APA. Since 2014, I have also been a judge for the TES awards, and in 2016 I was lead judge for alternative provision (special schools, PRUs and hospital schools). I currently chair the Scottish Government's Reporting and Monitoring of Bullying in Schools Working Group (RAMBIS) which has made a series of recommendations on the reporting of bullying in Scotland's schools (including the independent sector) and oversees their implementation.
BOOKS & REPORTS
Aggleton, P., with Robinson, K., Albury, K., Allen, L., Dyson, S., Davies, C., Maxwell, C., Rivers, I., Ingham, R., Rasmussen, M-L., Lamb, S., McKee, A. and Marshall. D. (Eds.) (2016). Education and sexualities: Major themes in Education (Volume II). London: Routledge. ISBN 978-1-138-82743-1.
Both from the point of view of the experiences of different groups of students, and also with respect to the form that education about sexuality, sex, and relationships should take, education and sexuality raises complex questions and provokes heated—sometimes furious—debate. This four-volume collection offers an authoritative overview of key issues within this rapidly developing field. Under the editorship of Peter Aggleton (editor-in-chief of the international journal, Sex Education), the collection covers a wide range of contemporary issues and concerns, including: the sexualities curriculum; ‘politics and pleasure’; classroom processes and dynamics; sexual and gender diversity in the classroom; gender and sexual violence in schools and colleges; and bullying, victimization and abuse. Special attention is also given to enduring topics, such as the content and context of sexualtiy education; the age at which it should take place; faith and religion; politics and political controversies; and the science and ethics of sexualities education.
With a comprehensive introduction written by Peter Aggleton, alongside section introductions prepared by well known scholars within the field, Education and Sexualities is a key addition to Routledge’s Major Themes in Education series. It is destined to be valued by educationalists and scholars working in related areas as a vital one-stop research tool.
Bauman, S. & Rivers, I. (2015, July). Mental Health in the Digital Age. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 9781137333162
This book encompasses the pros and cons of mental health on the Internet with scholarly discussions about treatment, research and ethics, risks in cyberspace, social networking, friendships and social interactions, virtual worlds, and representing “the self” online. Through a balance of extensive literature review and contemporary clinical cases that the authors summarize complex socio-psychological dynamics associated with digital resources—including the good, the bad, and the ugly. The authors uncover hidden jewels and landmines in the Internet landscape. For example, the development of role-playing games and virtual realities (e.g., Second Life) offers opportunities for people to choose alternative identities and to act out beyond conventional social norms. Such platforms encourage creativity, but other Internet sites present potentially harmful situations (such as with cyberbullying and sexting) - PsycCritiques
Rivers, I. (2015). Bullismo omofobico: Conoscerlo per combatterlo (trans. Homophobic bullying: Know it to fight it) Milan: Il Saggiatore. ISBN 9788842820918.
If "fag" - or equivalent - is the most common offensive term in Italian schools, there are not many tools to support teachers, educators and psychologists to tackle homophobic bullying. To partly fill this void now comes the translation of Homophobic Bullying, the book first published in 2011 that summarises the work of one of the world's leading experts on the subject, the psychologist and British researcher Ian Rivers. - Corriere della Serra, 31st May, 2015.
Nodin, N., Peel, E., Tyler, A., and Rivers, I. (2015). The RaRE Research Report: LGB&T Mental Health - Risk and Resilience Explored. London: PACE. ISBN 9780003238505.
This report is based upon a 5 years study of LGBT+ mental health and was launched by PACE at the King's Fund in March 2015. Working collaboratively with Professor Elizabeth Peel and Allan Tyler, this report offers both qualitative and quantitative insights into the well-being of LGBT+ people living in England. It not only addresses current issues and challenges some previous findings relating to LGBT+ mental health, it also focuses on legacy and the after effects of years of discrimination. Despite recent advances and the possibilities they have brought for many LGBT+ people, this study highlights there are still some of who live with memories of past discrimination and require our support, and some who still face discrimination today. A link to the full report (104 pages; 3MB) can be found here.
Rivers, I. and Duncan, N. (2013). Bullying: Experiences and discourses of sexuality and gender. London: Routledge. ISBN-13 9780415505031.
I suggest that it must be read by anyone connected to our educational system from grade school to college.- Psychology Today.
A key contribution of this book is the extent to which it not only makes connections between various forms of bullying. In doing so, the book provides an important dialogical opening through which collective understandings of bullying can be incorporated into more mainstream discussions about how to address the problem. - Gender and Education.
Ward, R., Rivers, I. and Sutherland, M. (Eds.) (2012). Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender ageing: Biographical approaches for inclusive care and support. London: Jessica Kingsley Press. ISBN-13 9781849052573
This important book should be recommended reading for all health and social care practitioners working with older people, not just those with an existing interest in LGBT issues. The essays cover an impressive range of topics, including meeting the needs of LGBT people affected by dementia, understanding the caring relationships of LGBT people, the experiences of older lesbians in the UK, and the special challenges faced by transgender people as they reach old age. - Journal of Dementia Care
This is a hopeful book that would make a great addition to any LGBT aging professional's library. - Gray Pride Parade Blog
This book provides an invaluable insight into the needs of the older lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) community in relation to ageing, future care and support... a thought-provoking read... recommend this book to all healthcare professionals involved in the care of older people, as well as those who have an interest in the health and social welfare of LGBT individuals. - Nursing Standards
Equally grounded in contemporary scholarship and practice, and representing an impressive array of authors, this volume nicely captures the lived experiences of LGBT elders as a 'story' in itself and to illuminate paths to more effective service provision in later life. Timely, sophisticated, accessible, and attentive to context, this is a must-read for anyone working with and/or interested in LGBT elders - and, indeed, the increasingly diverse ageing population more widely. - Dr. Dana Rosenfeld, Senior Lecturer, Keele University, UK
Older LGBT people have too often been characterised as 'invisible' or 'ignored'. This ground-breaking book challenges this idea and offers vital insight into practice based on understanding individuals, their life histories, personal identities and circumstances. This book is essential for realising person-centred support and promoting genuine choice and control for older LGBT people -- an evolving population in a changing social care landscape. - Dr. Sarah Carr, Senior Research Analyst, Social Care Institute for Excellence and Visiting Fellow, Centre for Government and Charity Management, London South Bank University
This book is a useful introduction to the issues facing many older gay people today. A recommended read for all health and social care professionals working with older people. - Stonewall, UK
Rivers, I. and Ward, R. (Eds.) (2012). Out of the ordinary: Representations of LGBT lives. Newcastle- Upon-Tyne: CambridgeScholars Publishing. ISBN‐13 9781443837439.
"Out of the Ordinary: Representations of LGBT Lives" is a book that seeks to case study the ways in which being other than heterosexual and other than biologically male or female can be or represented today. The essays contained within this book represent a body of creativity and thought that is rarely found together. It offers insights into the ways in which lives are not only experienced but portrayed by others as well as by those lesbians, gay men, bisexual and trans people who live them.
Rivers, I. (2011). Homophobic bullying: Research and theoretical perspectives. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN-13 9780195160536.
Homophobic Bullying should be required reading for all persons concerned with the welfare of the disenfranchised, be they members of the gay, lesbian, or transgendered community or of other groups who are identified as outsiders or minorities within our culture. This includes especially teachers, school administrators, public policy makers, and social workers. -PsyCritiques
The voices of pain are powerful.The author presents poignant, evocative narratives in which victims express the maelstrom of confusion that peer abuse etched on their memories. He integrates a rich review of pivotal investigations on the topic of bullying with primary quantitative and qualitative data as he introduces three original studies that focus on the victimization of sexual minorities. His insightful discussion of classic and contemporary theories from a multidisciplinary perspective will sharpen the reader\'s understanding of the complex set of psychosocial factors involved in this cycle of abuse. This is a powerful, timely reminder that there are no innocent bystanders in the "bullying circle." Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty/professionals. – CHOICE
Those seeking a better understanding of the problems encountered by victims of bullying will find...Homophobic Bullying by Ian Rivers, a useful work of scholarship. Rivers compiled data from numerous studies on the form and nature of the problem and created a curriculum to help eliminate bullying in schools, starting in kindergarten with the simple message that there are different types of families, and progressing all the way through high school with lessons on the consequences that follow from homophobic taunting and exclusions. Homophobic Bullying is an academic work, written with the emotional detachment of its genre. The personal accounts from victims, while gripping, are brief. However the curriculum and supporting data make this a treasure trove for anyone creating change in a school or workplace. Homophobic Bullying should be in the principal’soffice. – Gay and Lesbian Review Worldwide.
Rivers, I., Duncan, N., & Besag, V.E. (2007). Bullying: A handbook for educators and parents. Westport: Greenwood/Praeger. ISBN 0-313-33850-2
Offers a comprehensive exploration of the bullying within public schools, drawing upon research conducted in the United States, United Kingdon, Scandinavia, and Canada. It offers insights into the immediate and long-term impact bullying can have upon the lives of students, their families, and teachers. It offers parents useful tips for working proactively with school administrators to resolve bullying issues, and it provides teachers with materials that facilitate a better understanding.-Adolescence Magazine
Unlike many other resources....it draws from developmental psychology to explain why some individuals engage in bullying behavior. Most delightfully, the authors also sensitize school staff to various systems-level factors inherent in school environments that may create a culture of bullying. It is this ecological approach that truly sets Rivers, Duncan, and Besag's book apart from other volumes and makes it especially useful . . . . Bullying: A Handbook for Educators and Parents should be on the bookshelf of every school mental health worker and administrator to help design and maintain safe and healthy schools. The book is an excellent resource for psychologists, school counselors, school administrators, and parents who are asking what bullying looks like and what can be done to address it, both at an individual and at a systems level.- PsycCRITIQUES
Drawing on research conducted in the US, the UK, Scandinavia, and Canada, Rivers offers insight into the immediate and long-term impact that bullying can have on the lives of students, their families, and teachers. He gives parents tips for working proactively with school administrators to resolve bullying issues, and provides teachers with materials that facilitate a better understanding of the social dynamics of the classroom, hallways, and playground. Administrators will find a quick guide to recent state and federal statutes, directives, and legislation related to bullying and antisocial behavior in grades K-12. – Library Media Connection.