56– It doesn't build character. Diana Meter explains how defenders create belonging

August 10, 2021 Utah State University Office of Research Episode 56
56– It doesn't build character. Diana Meter explains how defenders create belonging
Show Notes Transcript

Research shows that strong peer relationships in adolescence lead to stronger relationships in adulthood. In this episode of Instead, Diana Meter explains why people become aggressors and how bullies identify people to target. Defenders witness a person being victimized and do something. Diana's Research show's that even though a defender's actions seem small, they make people feel seen. So demystify your adolescence and listen to this episode of Instead.

Wyatt Archer: Say you're at a barbecue and you meet somebody who don't know, how do you explain to them what you do 

[00:00:09] Diana Meter: happens all the time. And then they tell me all of their bullying, tragedy stories. And it's so sad because I realized this has been going on forever, but I tell people I have to start by saying, I'm not an interventionist.

[00:00:18] I'm a researcher. I want to understand these processes and theories behind why people are aggressive toward others, why they bully others and what we can do to stop. I'm Diana meter. I'm an assistant professor in the department of human development and family studies in the college of education. 

[00:00:38] Wyatt Archer: Diana meter looks through data to understand people's thoughts, feelings, and perceptions about their relationships, interactions, and schools.

[00:00:46] She did this as a postdoc at the university of Texas by digging through text messages, scraped from the phones of willing study participant here at Utah state university, Diana goes into schools and survey students to figure out how we can help kids feel like they belong. If everybody has a need to belong, why is it hard for people to just be nice to each other?

[00:01:06] And this episode, Diana explains why some people are mean and how those mean people select targets to bully. She also talks about the characteristics of people who stand up to bullies and why those upstanders or defenders are at the center of Diana's. You'll also hear about where teens source social clout, what effective interventions may look like and whether or not it's a good idea for teachers to take on the role of defender I'm Wyatt Archer, and you could continue to be a loner who avoids getting involved, but you are listening to this,

[00:01:45] a podcast from the office of research at Utah state university. All right. Here's my conversation with Diana meter. So the more things changed, the more they stay the same. How does that apply to the stories? People tell you at barbecues and like, is there any positive changes? 

[00:02:08] Diana Meter: Yeah, totally is something that I've observed when I was experiencing bullying and talking to adults about it when I needed help and stuff.

[00:02:16] Um, a lot of it was like, you know, bullying will make you stronger. These experiences are going to teach you good life lessons. And we still hear stuff like that. Like all of, you know, the adversity experience is going to make you better. And I'm like, yes, through that, somebody may be able to, you know, learn skills and adapt to their situation.

[00:02:31] But at what. We know when people have really strong, positive, supportive peer relationships in childhood, in middle childhood and adolescents, that these people also tend to have stronger adult relationships, romantic relationships and marriages that they choose that route. Um, so there's also a developmental aspect that having these strong relationships early on is going to contribute to.

[00:02:55] Better relationships lifelong. But when kids are in these problematic victimization situations where they really don't know how to get out of it, and it's really. Affecting them in powerful ways. It's interfering with their peer relationships, with their, with their academic life. Um, we see externalizing problems such as acting out.

[00:03:14] We see internalizing problems such as the depression and anxiety that might stem from victimization. Um, and I think people are recognizing that this is a real problem. And I think that that's a really good step in the right direction versus saying, oh no, keep, you know, keep getting bullied. It's gonna make you stronger later on.

[00:03:29] So 

[00:03:30] Wyatt Archer: I'm an eighth grader. Okay. Yeah. Oh, no, I just like went back to being an eighth grader. 

[00:03:38] Diana Meter: I know, I know. That's what I do this 

[00:03:41] Wyatt Archer: anyway. I'm one of your study participants. I'm an eighth grader. What kind of things am I going to be doing? Is it all paper surveys, online surveys? Am I being talked to by somebody it's 

[00:03:50] Diana Meter: okay.

[00:03:51] I really leave a lot of it, like up to schools and up to what they want to find out about their students. Um, and whatever's going to be most convenient for them, but doing stuff online. That's what teens like to do anyway. So that typically works out pretty well. Um, and we want to make sure that teens have privacy when they're completing these surveys, because we're asking them to talk about themselves.

[00:04:11] But also we sometimes ask them to report on other people as well, who are the kids who tend to get victimized? Who are the kids who tend to be aggressive toward others? Um, So we can get a sense of the, the, the peer perspective of what's going on as well. Um, sometimes we also ask for information from teachers.

[00:04:28] So we'll ask teachers to sort of give a sense of what's going on in their schools by reporting on their own behavior and observations, but also sometimes on their students. 

[00:04:38] Wyatt Archer: And what kind of questions are you asking the students? 

[00:04:42] Diana Meter: Students? Yeah. So this is, this is really evolved since I started doing this research.

[00:04:47] One thing that I've been really interested in since the very beginning is understanding, um, what we call defenders. So these, and sometimes they're called upstanders or positive bystanders. These are people who, um, well, can I give background, okay. Everyone has a need to belong to be part of a community.

[00:05:08] And this is especially true for adolescents who are sort of developing their identity and their, their, their place in the world. There are many intricate relationships between kids in a school who spent sometimes more times with each other than they do with their families. If they're involved in extracurricular activities and their parents are working and things like that.

[00:05:27] And so they're navigating these social relationships, these social hierarchies researchers come at things from different perspectives. And so there are some researchers who, who call this a social ecology and want to understand what different roles people have in that ecology. So we're talking about peer victimization and bullying, which is a lot of what I focus on.

[00:05:46] There are individuals who tend to. Be more aggressive. They tend to want to sort of have power and be dominant. And there's some individuals who do tend to be victimized more than other people. Um, there are certain people who try to stay outside of the problems and not be involved in any of that. Um, and then there's a small, but really important group who.

[00:06:06] Take a risky stance by standing up for other kids who are victimized in this could be, you know, really direct telling, you know, somebody who's aggressive to cut it out and not believe them, or it could be just, you know, sitting with them at lunch, being somebody they can walk to walk with between classes, um, and serving this important pro social role and the peer group.

[00:06:26] So are there things that we can do so that we have more defenders in the peer group, um, and then also understanding the effects. Being a defender. How does this affect me, myself, if I defend other people and the effects of being defended, is this going to make things a little better for victims? If they're defended?

[00:06:43] Wyatt Archer: Yeah. Yeah. I can remember, like in high school I had a couple of friends stand up for me and I wasn't in the class. I just heard about. How they protected me afterwards and that felt really good. And I do want to ask more about defenders in a minute. Okay. Well, let's start with the aggressive, um, students.

[00:07:01] What makes, what are some of the factors or maybe motivations for them to want to 

[00:07:07] Diana Meter: be grad? Well, there's, there's a lot of different factors that people study from early childhood up until this school year. Um, so, you know, there's people who say, some people are just genetically more aggressive, then there's people who say you learn this in the home, um, through observing, you know, parent behavior, neighborhood behavior.

[00:07:23] And there is, um, support for all of these theories. But then we also know that there's individuals who want what we call it, social resources. They like to be popular. They like to have. Well, look to them as a, as a leader in the peer group. And there's people who lead in really positive ways. And there's also people who get a lot of attention and popularity because of some of that bad behavior sometimes.

[00:07:43] And so we know that there's people who are aggressive for those reasons as well. So sometimes. It's sort of a signaling of what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior. Like if you, if, if somebody is victimizing someone else, it's like, well, we don't do that thing. That's not, what's cool. That's not what ex what's accepted.

[00:08:00] Um, so it's sort of like stating the social norms by rejecting whatever is not the norm. Um, Which we see adults do stuff like that too all the time, but it can be really harmful among youth who are sort of trying to figure out who they are and how they fit in, in the world. So sometimes it can be because of difference and wanting to distance oneself from that.

[00:08:22] And what we also see in addition to ringleader aggressors, who might be starting the aggression is that peer group of people around them who are, are making that aggression possible. Um, if we think about somebody, you know, physically assaulting somebody else that sort of traditional bullying. You know, think of from the fifties that I don't think we see as much, um, in C w we, it still occurs, but we've learned more and more that there's lots of other types of aggressive behavior, like rumor spreading and backstabbing and all those other things that are a little bit more difficult to see.

[00:08:51] Um, it takes other people sometimes to make it successful. And so. Researchers observed that it's not just the ringleader, there's usually other people that join them, they're called assistance or, um, Or sometimes they are not necessarily involved, but they might cheer on or sort of spread the rumor or, you know, pass on the, the cyber bullying text or something like that.

[00:09:15] Yeah. Yeah. They're like the network and by them joining in with the aggressor, they are saying, I belong to this group. I'm part of this. And th that's that's that need to belong again. It's not, it's not what we want our kids to do. It's not what we want to see students doing, but it makes sense why we do it.

[00:09:33] It's not like they're. I mean, all humans have the potential to, to behave really poorly sometimes, but it's not that they're like evil kids. It's just sort of fitting in doing what you think you should be doing to be part of a popular group. Okay. 

[00:09:48] Wyatt Archer: How did the aggressive students and the ringleaders leaders, how did they select a 

[00:09:51] Diana Meter: target?

[00:09:52] It's really sad. They, they choose somebody. When I, when I talk about power, it sounds like, you know, somebody who's big and strong versus somebody who's weak. And in the case of physical aggression, that might actually be the case. Um, but there's also social power. Um, when we're talking about popularity, um, and having lots of friends and stuff like that.

[00:10:08] Um, and so aggressors tend to choose victim. That'll lead them to be successful aggressors. Um, so kids who tend to not have as many friends who might be a little bit rejected by the peer group who might not have the best social skills, um, are sometimes vulnerable to victimization. Um, unfortunately, yeah, yeah, 

[00:10:30] Wyatt Archer: yeah.

[00:10:31] They're picking somebody who they're going to play the game, they're gonna play it to win. 

[00:10:36] Diana Meter: Yes. And actually, if I keep saying aggression and victimization, because, uh, when researchers talk about bullying, they talk about a really specific type of aggression. And in the definition, it's that the people are not of equal power it's bullying.

[00:10:48] When there is somebody who has more power, who's victimizing, somebody who has less power and isn't able to defend themselves for that reason. 

[00:10:57] Wyatt Archer: If, if it's two people of equal power, it's more just fighting or drama, 

[00:11:02] Diana Meter: drama. I mean, the drama is the word that, that teens use to talk about this and you know, a little bit of conflict within.

[00:11:09] Friendships within peer relationships is typical, but it's when it becomes repetitive. And there is that power imbalance where somebody can't stand up for themselves and it never really balances out again. Um, that becomes really problematic. But as a researcher, one of the reasons I focus on aggression of victimization and not just bullying is that there could be one really traumatic instance.

[00:11:31] Of victimization. That's not necessarily defined as bullying that can still be really hard for somebody. And so I don't want to discount those sorts of experiences that teens have. 

[00:11:41] Wyatt Archer: Um, the outsiders, the people not getting involved. What's their deal. We don't 

[00:11:46] Diana Meter: know much about them. Um, they tend to not be overly popular.

[00:11:50] They tend to not be kids who don't really fit in. And they're just kind of in the middle of the mix that it seems to be a pretty safe place to be for their mental health, for them not getting involved in these sorts of peer problems. But that's a group that really deserves more research to understand sort of how they're able to like, not get involved in all the drama and the peer ecology.

[00:12:09] And then 

[00:12:10] Wyatt Archer: to your favorite group or your group of interest, the defenders favorite 

[00:12:14] Diana Meter: group? Um, yeah, cause there, I mean, it's hard. It's like, you know, you see these things happen. It's typically somebody who. Could potentially victimize you too. And the defenders are taking a risk and, and doing the right thing by standing up for somebody else.

[00:12:31] And I, and you gave a perfect example earlier that it doesn't necessarily have to be face-to-face. It could be something that's done when that person isn't even there. But, um, you know, you have your personal anecdote, but there was also research to show that like, just being defended by, you know, one person, somebody is going to feel better than if they have no one defending them at all.

[00:12:50] Cause again, it's fulfilling that need to belong.

[00:12:53] Wyatt Archer: So w what do you know about them? What are you still trying to figure out about them 

[00:12:58] Diana Meter: learning a lot about them? I worked on a meta analysis with some colleagues that came out. In 2020, I believe maybe 20, 19, 20 20, who remembers it now. Um, but we, so we know a lot about individual characteristics.

[00:13:10] We see the more defenders, um, among younger kids, like elementary school, age versus older adolescents. Um, more girls tend to be defenders than boys. Theoretically. We just think that this might be because in our society, girls are sort of taught. Uh, we see a lot of people modeling, more nurturing sorts of behaviors.

[00:13:29] So this might be part of that. Um, We know that defenders tend to be more empathic. They have more cognitive and affective empathy and that they feel for other people make sense in regard to peer related factors, uh, defenders tend to be people who are well-liked. They tend to. Have some friends and to have positive peer regard.

[00:13:52] And this is something that I really want to focus more research on because theoretically, I assume that this is happening because those kids have some social cloud of their own. They're less afraid of maybe being the next victim because they've got friends they're well connected. They, they fit in, they.

[00:14:08] They feel comfortable and therefore they're able to help their peers, interestingly and little different from that theory. Another characteristic of defenders is they tend to be victimized as well. It's not a strong correlation, but we do see that a lot of victims are also defenders. And this might be that they know what it's like when they have the opportunity to help somebody else they're going to do.

[00:14:31] Yeah. And that's 

[00:14:32] Wyatt Archer: like probably informed therapy, empathy. Why did you get interested in this? 

[00:14:38] Diana Meter: Um, well, cause I was bullied, isn't it? Obvious? No, but, um, yeah, no, it's okay. It's like looking, looking back. It's like, I think about like when I, if I were to write the story out, like. You know, without any adjectives, it seems it's, it's so juvenile.

[00:14:56] It's like it's kid stuff and it doesn't seem like a big deal, but I remember how hard it was to go to school and feel like I don't know who to talk to. I don't know. Who's safe. I don't know. Who's saying what behind my back. Um, and I remember feeling like I was the only one going through that and there were probably so many kids going through this.

[00:15:14] Wyatt Archer: Was there a time when somebody defended you.

[00:15:19] Diana Meter: I will answer it this way. One of the reasons I was so interested in defenders from early on is that, and this was not, this was me reflecting on my own behavior that because I already felt kind of vulnerable. I would see other kids getting bullied sometimes, and I would be so nervous and uncomfortable because I didn't want it to happen.

[00:15:40] And I didn't really know what to do. And. I was so interested in that. Like, why are people hesitating? So I guess

[00:15:52] my own feelings of not wanting to always be the defender, even though it's obviously something I believe in is what sort of made me want to do this research. I've tried to be a defender. I have not always been successful. Cause it's, it's really scary. Well, I 

[00:16:07] Wyatt Archer: feel like that's classic classic defender mentality of just like, I'm doing my best.

[00:16:10] Like I'm not, you know, but you were a defender. 

[00:16:14] Diana Meter: I was a defender. I tried to be. Yeah, 

[00:16:17] Wyatt Archer: just take it. Um, uh, and, and so. Because you saw other people not defending, you were like, what's keeping you from helping out. And that's kind of, 

[00:16:30] Diana Meter: that's, what's helping me keeping me from helping out. Why am I not jumping in right now?

[00:16:34] Because there were definitely those circumstances where I just did not feel comfortable. 

[00:16:38] Wyatt Archer: Yeah. Yeah. But there was also times when you did the right thing. Um, if a principal or a teacher wanted to get to get your help on something, how would they go about doing 

[00:16:49] Diana Meter: that? Um, I love working with schools because obviously I like to do the research, but.

[00:16:56] What I like to do first is sort of talk to the, talk to the principals, talk to the counselors, talk to the students if they want to talk about, like, what are the problems going on here? Um, there's this stuff that I'm interested in, but I can always sort of. Adapt the projects that I'm doing, um, to meet the needs of schools.

[00:17:12] I think, especially after this weird year with COVID and masks, um, and you know, some kids not even going to school last year, who are now coming back after a year of homeschooling, it's going to be a little different. Um, and. Just to get a sense of like, where are we, what is our baseline? Um, could be really helpful.

[00:17:31] Um, our, you know, our kid's anxious about coming back. Are they nervous about going back to school? If they, if they don't have vaccines or their parents don't want them to get vaccinated, it could be anything. Um, and then how does that relate to their academic performance? Which is, you know, the outcome schools a lot of times care about.

[00:17:47] Um, so really getting a sense of what the school needs. Um, and then something that I love to do is once I have that data, putting it into a format that can be used by the school. So, you know, making graphs and, um, making, you know, if they want parent handouts or student handouts, so the students can understand what that data means.

[00:18:03] And a lot of times, you know, people are happy. Happy to find out that levels of victimization and bullying and things like that. They do tend to be generally low in a lot of the samples that we look at. It doesn't mean it's not problematic for the couple of kids who are, but I feel like 

[00:18:16] Wyatt Archer: the schools can you imagine, like the schools that are already doing a good job are the ones who are asking for it.

[00:18:23] You know, just cause it's like they already care about it. 

[00:18:26] Diana Meter: Yes, probably. But you know, the schools that, like, when I think about schools that might be having a lot of problems, they're probably also under-resourced and may not have the capacity to be able to be helping in all of these different ways. So 

[00:18:38] Wyatt Archer: interventionists use your data to come up with interventions.

[00:18:43] How does, how does it help? What do they like? How does your data inform future interventions? 

[00:18:49] Diana Meter: Um, I think that that bystander component has been a part of a lot of recent interventions and something that it's on stop, the government website for how to prevent bullying. Um, people talk about being an upstander, being more than an upstander and in pop culture, we hear, you know, um, celebrities say this in public service announcements and things like that.

[00:19:09] And. From my perspective, there just wasn't that much research on whether this works, the radically it should have. Um, and so I'm really pleased that my research is supporting the idea that that defenders can play a really positive role, um, in the peer ecology and decreasing the amounts of peer victimization and making it a safer place, not just for the victims, but for everybody.

[00:19:30] They don't have to have that anxiety about victimization happening in their schools. Yeah. 

[00:19:34] Wyatt Archer: I remember lots of activities and stuff like that to like build bonding it's the school. And like, it's probably one of those things that like us complaining about it after was probably just as much of like the camaraderie building is that.

[00:19:46] But what kind of things are schools 

[00:19:48] Diana Meter: doing? Yeah, I think that's a great point. So like, one thing that people should do is build like a positive school climate and a sense of connectedness. So people can feel like they're part of that community at their school and that they belong. Um, and we've seen that for years and years.

[00:20:01] And if you belong, that's great. If you don't belong, it's it might not be that helpful. Um, so a lot of the interventions that have shown promise, and this is not just for bullying and victimization victimization specifically, but for problems across the board is different. Tiered levels of intervention so that there is a school-wide focus.

[00:20:20] There's also the kids who need, um, you know, a little bit extra attention can get that. And then if there needs to be one-on-one individual attention, um, that can be provided as well. And you should interview Tyler Renshaw about that. Um, We're we're working together on some research, but he knows a lot more about the actual interventions.

[00:20:38] He's a, um, a school psychologist. Um, there's a program that's been very popular in Europe. That's for that they have brought to the United States called Kiva. Um, it's originated in Finland and they did a huge Countrywide study and they did find some success with, um, that decreasing levels of, of victimization.

[00:20:59] Wyatt Archer: So I always have, like, when I. But he brings up like a Scandinavian country that like did something smart. I'm just like, Scandinavian countries are very homogenous culturally. So what challenges do we have here in the states? And 

[00:21:14] Diana Meter: did you, Utah, I'm so glad that you asked that because that's something that researchers obviously have noticed too, and it, and it is homogenous, but also there's a lot of immigrants, um, in Scandinavian countries and.

[00:21:26] Just as we see here, there is victimization against, um, immigrant adolescents. We know that there is also race and ethnic group based bullying, there's immigration status based bullying. There's language of origin based bullying. We see all of these things and there's lots of different problems that are going on in the United States.

[00:21:42] We really have. Sort of pay attention to all of these different layers. Why is it occurring? We know that the overall outside political climate can impact what's happening to kids in schools. Um, well, and it depends where you are too. Our schools are so diverse in the United States that can, um, I mean, to me, it's just, it's funny, like as a, as a person and as a researcher, I'm always like, why is it so hard to just be nice to people, but you know, there's, there's so many opportunities to meet people who are different from you here.

[00:22:07] Um, And to see that as an opportunity, rather than something to sort of reject people because of, 

[00:22:15] Wyatt Archer: um, what, what kind of research discoveries have you made that have been. Unexpected or surprising 

[00:22:25] Diana Meter: to you? Um, I just, I just been analyzing this and so sometimes we don't like to talk about data that hasn't been peer reviewed yet.

[00:22:33] Um, it hasn't been published, but I collected some data looking at the effects of being defended by teachers. Right. Being defended by students. And I thought that both would be fantastic. We always tell teachers, you need to intervene. You need to do something. Um, and for the outcomes that I'm looking at, um, some of which are what we call students, subjective wellbeing.

[00:22:51] Do you have a joy for learning? Do you feel connected to your school? Things like that. We know that peer victimization is associated with. Problems for kids. That's why we care about it. Um, and this includes academic outcomes. And if you're connected to your school, if you have joy and learning and things like that.

[00:23:07] So in this data that I collected recently, I did find an association that people who are victimized tend to have tended to have lower school connectedness, for example. Um, but that being defended by students buffered this association, so that. It really wasn't as problematic, as long as you had people defending you.

[00:23:27] I expected to find that if you were defended by teachers, this would buffer that problem as well. I did not find this, um, So it makes me sad in one regard because I wish teachers could fill that role of defending and standing up for their students and making things better. But it really seems like having students stand up for you, it's going to make a difference in the lives of kids 

[00:23:48] Wyatt Archer: back to high school.

[00:23:48] And I can imagine like if Ms Coburn defended me, that would be helpful because you had to be a real jerk to get her to yell at you. And I can see other teachers that they depend on me and be like, you know, doing it cause he's 

[00:23:59] Diana Meter: supposed to them too, because it might make you feel nerdy or something. 

[00:24:02] Wyatt Archer: Yeah.

[00:24:06] Can a teacher intervening. Can that be a negative? Can it be helpful or is it just kind of like not helping? 

[00:24:13] Diana Meter: Yeah. Well, from this data, which I, I don't know if anyone else has really like looking at these same things simultaneously. They're not doing any harm. It's just not really. At least for these outcomes seeming to make that much of a difference.

[00:24:26] But what I'd like to continue to look at is, is it making a difference in academic outcomes? Is it making a difference in other outcomes? I'm certainly not harming anything. 

[00:24:35] Wyatt Archer: I guess the teacher just like kind of being like, after the incident happens, if she's like with the bystanders thing, like you guys just let that happen and just walking away 

[00:24:45] Diana Meter: and now it'd be cold.

[00:24:46] And that would be a really interesting thing too, is like, can teachers be the ones who influenced. Peers to stand up and make that difference. But I theoretically again, I think it's that need to belong that, you know, somebody in the peer group cares about you. That's going to make that difference. 

[00:25:02] Wyatt Archer: Um, where do teens get social work?

[00:25:08] Diana Meter: Oh, my gosh, it's so many different things. Um, and I, and I hate talking about this stuff cause I feel like sometimes I'm feeding into, but um, 

[00:25:15] Wyatt Archer: oh, there's so many teams listening to this podcast, you know? 

[00:25:20] Diana Meter: Um, but you know, it could be material resources having the right clothes, having the right stuff. Again, part of our larger society as well, physical attractiveness, again, I hate saying it, but we know that, um, people tend to gravitate.

[00:25:36] Teens tend to gravitate toward people who are physically attractive. Um, you know, having the right friends when I say right friends, not necessarily the kindest friends of the most supportive friends, but, um, being in a group of more popular people. So there's different things that we see. Um, it could be if, if something like being on sports teams as valued, that could be something.

[00:25:56] Being in particular clubs, having, you know, particular skills, things like that. And then, you know, there are things that are going to be devalued that I think it's really important to talk about. So something we talked about, you asked before about people who tend to be victimized. You know, I use some general terminology.

[00:26:13] There might be kids who don't have a lot of friends or might be sort of rejected, um, might be loners and things like that. But why, why is that happening? And, um, I don't like to victim blame. Cause a lot of it's, it's usually bigger than just one person. It's not like one person's issue, but, um, we see this across the country and in other countries as well.

[00:26:33] Um, if people perceive that they don't have, you know, the typical gender identity or sexual orientation of other people in the peer group, that is a huge thing. Um, you know, body size is a huge issue. That's something that you talked to Maya about. Um, kids with bigger bodies tend to be bullied more. And so, you know, there are so many reasons why kids tend to be victimized.

[00:26:53] That's completely out of their control and completely unfair. And as adults, we can see that and be like, what is going on, but it just, it happens. Um, and it's, and it's not necessarily obvious. And so that's where I've been focusing. A lot of my more recent research is understanding, you know, so, okay.

[00:27:10] You're going to defend kits. Are you going to defend all kids? Are you defending kids who are bullied for particular reasons? Um, cause that's of interest. 

[00:27:19] Wyatt Archer: So, what kind of things are you wanting to study that you haven't got to yet? 

[00:27:23] Diana Meter: Okay. The rates of, um, youth in Utah saying that they're believed or are receiving unfair treatment because of their LGBTQ identity is really.

[00:27:37] Alarming. There is some research from a group called glisten. Um, they do, uh, assessments of different states and, um, the reports just show that there's a lot of problems here and, um, I want to help my local community as much as possible. And I would love to better understand the experiences of youth who identify as LGBTQ in schools locally, um, to see, you know, Are there, um, policies in place that are going to best support them in their schools and in their education.

[00:28:08] And if not, what can we do to make things better? What 

[00:28:12] Wyatt Archer: makes you taught different, but makes studying schools in Utah different. Um, North Carolina or California or 

[00:28:20] Diana Meter: Kansas, and this, and this is a research question in and of itself. And it's something that I'm interested in. You mentioned, you know, talking about Scandinavian countries that there's, you know, they might be more homogenous than some of the schools in the United States.

[00:28:30] And if we think about the state of Utah yeah. It is mostly Caucasian. Um, and it's mostly LDS. Um, there's going to be a lot more variation in some cities than another cities, but, um, you know, what is the experience of being a racial and ethnic minority in a small rural school when you were one of the only racial, ethnic minorities in that school?

[00:28:47] Um, you know, what is the experience of being able to 

[00:28:50] Wyatt Archer: call my friend Libby? She could tell you 

[00:28:51] Diana Meter: she was. Yeah. And so, like, I think that, um, you know, and these might not be Utah specific problems, but, um, Because of the, um, how much Naty of a lot of schools in the state and in terms of demographics, you know, what is it, what is it like to be different?

[00:29:07] What does it like to feel like you don't fit in? Um, or do kids not really have that problem? I don't think we really know that and I would love to better understand what that's like. 

[00:29:19] Wyatt Archer: Are you excited to be researching? Like, how do you balance like, Ooh, this is yes, but also horrible. 

[00:29:27] Diana Meter: Oh yes. And no, this happens all the time.

[00:29:28] The, for researchers, because we're looking for these, these trends and variability in our data, and when you study something like aggression or victimization, you really want there to be zero in reality. But if there's nothing there, there's nothing to do research on. But you know, the first step is finding out what is going on.

[00:29:41] If we don't find out. If there's no problems, then we move on. If there are problems then yeah. You know what? We need to do something about this and we need to figure out what those problems are and address them. Um, so I think it's exciting, maybe exciting. Isn't the right word, but it is, uh, an important option Trinity to see where we can help you and how we can intervene to make things better for them.

[00:30:04] And if there's no problems, that's great. You move on. But if there are, then we need to intervene and do something about it.

[00:30:11] Wyatt Archer: Thank you for listening to my conversation with Diana meter, please subscribe to the instead podcast and share this episode with a friend or maybe a high school enemy. This episode was produced by me, Wyatt Archer, with the help of Tabitha Smeel as part of our work in the office of research at Utah State University.