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Professor Ian Rivers

Head Of School

School of Education

Personal statement


I am currently Professor of Education for Social Change and Head of the School of Education at the University of Strathclyde. I am a developmental psychologist and HCPC registered health psychologist specialising in the study of the bullying behaviour and its psychological impact.

Prior to joining Strathclyde, I was Professor of Human Development at Brunel University London (2008-2015) 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). For the past six years, I have been visiting professor in Education at Anglia Ruskin University.

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:

The Relationship Between Bullying and Suicide: What We Know and What it Means for Schools.

I also write 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 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

Washington, D.C.

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., 1st September, 2013.

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 on publication of Bullismo omofobico: Conoscerlo per combatterlo (Il Saggiatore, 2015)



For 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 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.



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



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 and the national board for LGBTYouth Scotland. Previosuly, I served as chair of trustees for Ditch the Label (2013-2016). 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).



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.

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.

Content. 1: Introduction Neil Duncan and Ian Rivers 2: The Immediate and Long-Term Effects of Bullying Helen Cowie 3: Cyberbullying and Cyberaggression: Sexualised and Gendered Experiences Ian Rivers 4: Bullying and Sexual Violence: Definition, Prevalence, Outcomes and Moderators Dorothy L. Espelage 5: Girls and Indirect Aggression Dawn Jennifer 6: Sexual Bullying in One Local Authority Siân Williams 7: Homophobic Bullying V. Paul Poteat, Ethan H. Mereish, Craig D. DiGiovanni and Jillian R. Scheer 8: Mapping the Boundaries of Homophobic Language in Bullying Mark McCormack 9: Disability, Sexuality and Bullying Neil Duncan 10: Masculinity and Homophobia in High School and College Sports: A Personal Journey from Coach to Researcher Eric Anderson 11: The Role of Gay-Straight Alliances in Addressing Bullying in Schools Margaret Schneider, Robb Travers, Alex St. John, Lauren Munro and Kate Klein 12: Planning and Delivering Interventions to Promote Gender and Sexuality Debbie Ollis 13: Discourses of Sexuality and Gender Considered Ian Rivers and Neil Duncan.

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

Rivers, I. and Ward, R. (Eds.) (2012). Out of the ordinary: Representations of LGBT lives. Newcastle- Upon-Tyne: CambridgeScholars Publishing. ISBN13 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.

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

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.


LGBT people and suicidality in youth : a qualitative study of perceptions of risk and protective circumstances
Rivers Ian, Gonzalez Cesar, Nodin Nuno, Peel Elizabeth, Tyler Allan
Social Science and Medicine Vol 212, pp. 1-8, (2018)
A cross-national study of school students' perceptions of political messages in two national election campaigns
Rivers Ian, Carragher Daniel J. , Couzens Jimmy, Hechler Rachel C., Fini Gia
International Journal of Educational Research, (2018)
Assistant grade nurses and nursing students : a diary study
Gillespie Mark, Rivers Ian
Mental Health Practice Vol 21, pp. 21-25, (2017)
Homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in schools
Rivers Ian
School Bullying and Mental HealthSchool Bullying and Mental Health, (2017)
Suicide ideation and alcohol use : understanding developmental trajectories
Rivers Ian
Journal of Adolescent Health Vol 60, pp. 357, (2017)
Education and Sexualities
Aggleton Peter, Robinson Kerry, Albury Kath, Allen Louisa, Davies Cristyn, Dyson Suzanne, Ingham Roger, Lamb Sharon, Marshall Daniel , Maxwell Claire, McKee Alan, Rasmussen Mary-Lou, Rivers Ian
Major Themes in Education, (2016)

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