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About Me

I am a psychologist, academic and author. For21 years I have been researching bullying behaviour in the U.K. and U.S. I am best known for my early work on homophobic bullying which took place at a time when many organisations (including the UK’s leading LGB organisations) were not interested. More recently I have become known for my work on bystander mental health which was cited by Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education in a speech in September 2011.

I currently work at the University of Strathclyde where I am a professor  of Education for Social Change within the School of Education. I have previously held chairs in human development (Brunel University London) applied and community psychology (Queen Margaret University Edinburgh and York St John University). In addition to researching bullying behaviour, I am also interested in community regeneration and I work with various third sector agencies to develop services for at risk and minority groups through evaluations of need.

Between 2006 and 2008, I was a member of the Scottish Government’s advisory panel, the LGBT Hearts and Minds Agenda Group, and also served as a diversity advisor for Lothian and Borders Police helping them reinvigorate the remote reporting scheme for hate crimes.

As a psychologist my work has been recognised at many levels and I have been honoured by both the British Psychological Society and the American Psychological Association:

“Ian’s contribution is recognised at many levels ranging from government policy to advice to individuals. He has a deep personal commitment to his chosen field, he is prepared to persuade people to take the bullying issue seriously, and defend them when they do.”

British Psychological Society, 2001
Standing Committee for the Promotion of Equal Opportunities

“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. This seminal work described different forms of bullying in elementary and high schools.”

Division 44 of the American Psychological Association, 2007

Most recently I was conferred with fellowship of the Academy of Social Sciences where I was described as “a leading influential writer on bullying, in particular homophobic bullying and bystander behaviour.”

I have written two books on bullying behaviour. The first, Bullying: A Handbook of Educators and Parents (2007, published by Greenwood/Praeger), has been extensively reviewed with many positive comments. The following review appeared in the Journal of Moral Education:

The book Bullying: a handbook for educators and parents provides a thorough, theoretically grounded and research supported guide for families and school professionals facing this problem. Academic professionals, who are not the primary audience for this book, may wish for deeper coverage of the research and theory. However, anyone, from a university professor to an elementary school guidance counsellor, who is interested in educating school professionals and/or families on the topic, will find this book to be a useful tool with creative and enlightening activities and suggestions.

The second book, Homophobic Bullying: Research and Theoretical Perspectives was published by Oxford University Press (New York) on January 14th, 2011.Two recent review follow:

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.

I have also co-edited three books:

Out of the OrdinaryRivers, 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.

Ward, R., Rivers, I. and Sutherland, M. (Eds.) (2012). Lesbian, gay, LGBT Ageingbisexual 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


Routledge BookRivers, 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.

Mental Health in the Digital AgeBauman, S. and Rivers, I. (2015). Mental health in the digital age. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN-13 9781137333162.

The internet can bow be reached by a fingertip on a smart phone and has changed our lives on a fundamental level. However, is mental health enhanced or diminished by this digitisation of our world? Innovation, such as digital technology, is often greeted with fear and suspicion but there is currently little evidence to support this. This book examines the intersection of mental health and digital technology in order to make informed decisions about the new options provided by the internet and technology. It highlights the rise in online therapy, self-help sites and social media as well as examining the ethical dilemmas involved in online research to suggest that the benefits created far outweigh the possible risks.

Rivers, I. (2015). Bullismo omofobico: Conoscerlo per combatterlo. Milan: Il SaggiatoreBullismo omofobico. ISBN-13 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.

I have also written 100 articles, book chapters and reports on bullying and LGBT issues.

Honours, Awards, & Visiting Appointments

2001 – British Psychological Society Award for Promoting Equality of Opportunity in the U.K.
2004 – Visiting Fellow, National Centre for Injury Prevention & Control, CDC, Atlanta, U.S.A.
2005 – Visiting Professor, School of Sport Science & Psychology, York St John College
2006 – LGBT Youth Scotland Annual Award of Honorary Membership & Commemorative Medal
2007 – Fellow of the American Psychological Association
2010 – Visiting Professor, Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education, Anglia Ruskin University
2010 – Fellow of the British Psychological Society
2010 – Fellow of the Institute of Leadership and Management
2013 – Visiting Professor, School of Psychological Sciences and Health, University of Strathclyde.
2014 – Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences

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