Spokeo Review

  • Price
  • Accuracy
  • Support
  • Interface/Features

Summary

Spokeo is the “Glinda, the Good Witch” of background check sites, emphasizing all the positive reasons to research people and downplaying the Information Age’s darker sides.

4.3

Pros

  • Lean, clean, search machine
  • Great price
  • A snap to use

Cons

  • Weak on crime
  • Extra searches can lead you down a rabbit hole of info

Who is Spokeo?

What a couple Stanford grads started as a “social network aggregator” in a Silicon Valley basement in 2006 has morphed into one of the better means of mending your long neglected social ties. Sure, there’s some criminal info available on Spokeo, but the company’s website sends the clear message it would rather bring people together than keep them apart.

The customer testimonials shown below give you a good idea of the top uses promoted on the site:

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Spokeo Pricing and Available Plans

Straightforward price structure is among the lowest in the field – $13.95 for a month, $7.95 a month for 3 months and $4.95 a month for half the year. Your base subscription seems to get you enough reliable, current background info to help you reconnect with someone you’ve lost touch with for a very long time.

Base plan provides contact info, location history, relatives and some other bare bones personal info – enough to make certain you’ve located the right person.

Searching available court or historical records is $2.95 extra, each.

How to Use Spokeo?

Sign up

This portion of the process could be done in your sleep.

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Customer Service

Spokeo customer service could be among the most responsive in the industry. You can talk to a real person 24/7, unless you’d rather just handle things on your own easily online.

Spokeo’s standard search

Seems to work exactly as advertised. Simple search format is flexible enough you can include anything you happen to remember about the person you’re looking for, even if it’s incomplete, and returns a manageable list of possible matches. Once you select the most likely candidate, the extensive location history and list of relatives quickly confirms if you’ve got the right person.

Some contact info appears outdated, but the most recent available is clearly identified, which should take some of the hit and miss out of getting ahold of whomever you’re trying to connect with.

Spokeo also digs through more than 60 social networks, giving you another avenue for reestablishing those old ties.

Court and historical reports

Are fairly cheap, but still might not be worth the cost, returning a lot of US Census, marriage, death and court records on anyone sharing a name the least bit similar to your subject’s (though some of this could be helpful if you’re working on a family history).

Connections

Is a unique feature that allows you to import an address book, then performs searches to update the contact info it contains, filling in a name, perhaps, for that random phone number you once jotted down.

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Web design

Spokeo is tops among several sites I’ve used. The site is ridiculously easy to navigate and displays search results in a plain, uncluttered format with no distracting graphics or annoying pop-ups for “free credit reports!”

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How Good is Spokeo Data?

In keeping with Spokeo’s semiofficial mission of optimistic reconnection, I decided to dig up what I could on a once close friend who’d gone through some rough times before completely severing all connections with the circle of friends we shared. No one had heard from him in several years and all of us were concerned about his health and happiness.

I’d tried finding what I could on other websites with absolutely no success at all, excepting a list of literally hundreds of names scattered willy-nilly around the country without out any useful corroborating evidence. My first search on Spokeo returned a single unequivocally positive result, complete with age, names, dates and places that clinched the ID. What I did not expect was my reluctance to contact him.

Perhaps it was the subliminally gentle message that seems to permeate Spokeo’s website, but I was more inclined to respect my old friend’s apparent wish to start his life anew. Rather than startle him a phone call from a ghost from the past, I was content with the knowledge (supplied by Spokeo) that he seems surrounded by new friends and family, is living in a safe neighborhood and is, apparently, pursuing some of his favorite interests once again.

How do I Cancel Spokeo?

Cancellation was easy peasy. You can cancel anytime on website’s “Usage and Subscriptions” page, call (877) 913-3088, or send an email to CustomerCare@spokeo.com. If you used PayPal, it’s even easier: 1, Log in to your PayPal account; 2, Click “Profile” near the top of the page; 3, Click “My Money; 4,Click “Update” in the “My Preapproved Payments” section; and 5, Click “Cancel” or “Cancel Automatic Billing” and follow the instructions. That’s it!

Spokeo Final Thoughts

There are a lot better sites out there for digging up dirt on people, if that’s what you need in a background check. But, if you’re idly musing about what happened to an old and once dear friend or need to locate a family member you’ve lost touch with, Spokeo is perhaps the best, and cheapest, way to do it.

Without really meaning to, Spokeo tangentially touches on the issue of privacy in the information age: just because you can do an extensive background check, does it mean you should?

PeopleSmart Review

  • Price
  • Accuracy
  • Support
  • Interface/Features

Summary

PeopleSmart is a public records search that bridges the gap of the other search avenues and provides simple, direct, correct results. It’s easy-to-use interface can reconnect lost friends or help companies feel secure about people they trust.

4.3
User Rating 0 (0 votes)
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Pros

  • The information was straightforward and presented in a user-friendly manner.
  • When you search, it pulls up multiple people so that I could make sure I was selecting the correct person.
  • The site wasn’t inundated with banner ads and pop-ups.

Cons

  • The information presented was very basic and didn’t go into much detail.
  • To get any significant information on someone other than their basic contact required an upgrade in your account, which was confusing. Your account already has some credits (in my case, 75 credits) and a premium report cost 250 credits. To buy the outstanding 175 credits was going to cost me $35. It also gave me an option to spend $99 to get a PremiumPro membership or I could spend $119 and get 3 premium reports. It seemed to me to be excessive for my purposes and was an expensive upgrade.

Meh

  • There were a few discrepancies on the information provided but nothing major.

I stumbled across PeopleSmart completely by accident, or maybe it was a fortunate mistake. I was in charge of putting together the class reunion and had a handful of contacts I couldn’t reach. While looking for an old friend who I hadn’t spoken to in years I ended up on PeopleSmart. After searching other places unsuccessfully for a long time I was ready to give up but this was the breakthrough I needed.

Who is PeopleSmart?

Upon digging deeper, it turns out PeopleSmart is a side-project of a company called Inflection, based in Omaha, Nebraska, which is ultimately a resource for employers to verify and background-check their potential employees. As you know, technology never stops growing and changing. In a world of increasing connection over the web, the power of inquiry has become increasingly important. This applies both to small businesses and to large, established corporations. The internet lends many tools to not only learn and grow personally but also connect and build relationships across the globe. This can be a great opportunity to branch out and grow, unleashing the ability to link up with people that are well suited to your goals. Be it close to home or abroad, it is important to know who you are connecting with and trusting. Inflection offers a host of options, including CommunitySafety and Identity.com. CommunitySafety is geared toward non-profits and schools to make sure the people they are allowing in are trustworthy and identity.com gives you quick and reliable identification and background checks to make sure you know who you are speaking with and gives you that extra buffer against fraud and unnecessary risk.

PeopleSmart Pricing and Available Plans


Not only is the site easy to use but it is direct. It is a service you pay for, which might deter some people, but the fact that they outline exactly what you get for your money makes you realize the worth. I opted for the $19.99/month plan that gave me 10 searches by phone number, 10 by email, and even let me send emails and physical letters on my behalf through the company. Because I had more people on my list to contact, this was the best option.

How to Use PeopleSmart?

There are so many interesting facets to this service that I got hooked almost immediately. Unfortunately, the friend I was looking for has a rather generic name, which proved very frustrating. When other search queries amassed a blur of results, PeopleSmart allowed me to look deeper than just the name I was searching for and find the specific details that narrowed my search. Even though it returned 14 results the search provided things like estimated age, previous known cities, maiden name(s), and even relatives. Some of the entries also listed if the person had passed away and how long ago they passed. I was absolutely blown away by the accuracy and was very quickly able to find the specific person I was looking for.

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I wanted to check to make sure the site was legitimate so I looked online for reviews and was pleasantly surprised! When you see, “we found that PeopleSmart was very close to being 100 percent accurate” you know you’re onto something good.

How Good is PeopleSmart Data?

The report showed a map of where she lived but did not give a direct address. It offers you the option of upgrading your membership to reveal a direct address but by collaborating with different search avenues I was able to cross-search and find what I needed. It also provided me with her current phone number as well as her cell phone number and an alternative home number. I called the cell phone number and was successfully connected the first time!

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When you sign up, it offers you something called “IdentitySmart” which allows you to monitor your public records including credit accounts and email addresses which would be really helpful to potentially avoid credit card fraud and identity theft. This was an additional $14.95/month and I might do it someday but decided to skip it for now. It did, however, pique my interest. Of course, I had to look myself up; Curiosity is a powerful thing! I’m not sure if I am happy or disappointed but I did not find much about myself. It provided my name and birthday but did not have any contact information for me. It did, however, list relatives of mine which would probably get someone the information they needed to contact me if they really wanted to.

There was one person I looked up that did not give any phone contact but, instead, listed that they had an address and gave me the option to send a letter via the postal system. I opted to send a postcard and found it to be surprisingly simple! It opened up a dialogue box, I typed in my text, and I pressed send.

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I received a phone call 3 days later from the gentleman I sent the letter to confirming his reservation for the reunion. Though it did not give me a direct address, it got the job done and didn’t cost me anything extra. For the sake of full disclosure, there were a few addresses that were not current or correct within the results but the vast majority were correct.

Of course, no system is going to be perfect. The fact that it did not find any information on myself was a bit surprising because I do not go to any length to hide my contact information. My email and phone are both listed on my Facebook page and my LinkedIn. I am also a small-business owner which, I would think, would propagate my contact information throughout the internet. I had no problem finding information on the handful of other missing contacts I needed, which was nice. It saves you a significant amount of time and frustration because you’re not searching multiple locations for information.

The nice thing about PeopleSmart is that it gives you the flexibility you need to serve your personal needs. I only needed to search a handful of people so I was able to choose the less expensive monthly charge. Had I needed more, there was an option available for $49.99 which gave me 5x the search power and 10x the ability to contact people directly. If I only had to search for 1 person, there’s an option for that, too. You have the opportunity to pay a one-time charge of $4.99 and avoid costly subscriptions and the hassle of cancellation.

True, the business review ratings weren’t as high as their competitors but, for the price, it was absolutely worth it. On one review site, Intelius received a 90% accuracy rating, US Search received 85%, and PeopleSmart received 60%. It still gave me everything I needed, though. The review site stated that PeopleSmart, “offers a mostly accurate view of criminal and bankruptcy history on those we investigated. The complete reports offer more data than most, which can help you branch out your investigation if you choose”.

Upon looking into other services, Intelius offered searches for $14.95/month with one background check or discounted rates if you sign up for 3 or 6 months initially. If you only wanted one report, however, it would cost you $49.95! The other service, US Search, was much less appealing in my opinion as it came across as less user-friendly and much less personal. It gave a 1 person report for $2.45 which included just the basic contact information, a criminal check for $14.95, or a background check for $39.95. If you paid for a single report and it didn’t return any information you would be out of luck and would have paid to be told nothing at all. There really wasn’t an option to search multiple people without consenting to a $1.45 charge with a hidden $19.95/month subscription, which was only discussed deeper within the expandable details. It wasn’t exactly straightforward about the charges which might undermine your trust for the company.

How to Cancel PeopleSmart?

When I was done getting all of the names and contacts for my event I decided to cancel the subscription. It was surprisingly easy! I did not have to argue with customer service or go through any lengthy steps. It asked why I was canceling, I noted my reasons, it asked me to confirm and it was done. I got to continue my month of subscription and it would automatically terminate on the date requested.

As an added bonus, it offered me a lesser subscription where I could search name, address, email and work information for a discounted rate of $4.95/month.

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PeopleSmart Final Thoughts

Ultimately, I was very pleased with this service. Not only did it streamline my searching but it took only minutes to do what had taken me hours previous to subscribing for this service. I cannot even begin to tell you how valuable time is on this project and this service was a life saver! It was accurate for the most part and got the job done.

It wasn’t the least expensive option but it was the most appealing and seemed to have options that were best suited to my needs. For only $14.99 I was able to find everyone I needed with very minimal hassle. I was able to send a letter when no phone contact information was given, which is not something that was offered by other services. I could see it being very valuable in many different applications. I will absolutely be back in the future.

 

US Search Review

  • Price
  • Accuracy
  • Support
  • Interface/Features

Summary

Well established with a good track record, US Search is a reliable, if somewhat stodgy, middle of the road site.

3.8
User Rating 0 (0 votes)
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Pros

  • Well-established company
  • Low price for basic searches

Cons

  • Pricey for more detailed searches

Meh

  • Hasn’t kept pace with newer tech

Who is US Search?

Bellevue, Washington-based US Search was one of the first companies to provide information about people online and still occupies the comfortable niche it first carved out in 1994. From the beginning, US Search has been a reliable way to locate long, lost childhood friends or to verify your new neighbor’s backstory about having just relocated after living on a pineapple plantation in Hawaii for the last decade. From the start, this has been a company that seems to make certain that the information it does provide is both accurate and the most current available.

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US Search Pricing and Available Plans

You can get some peace of mind about that new neighbor or old flame for the modest a la carte price of $2.45 for the basic one-off “People Search” report that provides full name and any aliases, age, address and address history, publicly listed phone numbers plus relatives and associates. For a monthly fee of just under $20, you can perform an unlimited number of basic searches (minus relatives, but with social network info) with the company’s “OmniSearch” subscription. More detailed info, like that provided by the company’s top of the line “Background Check” comes at nearly $40 but adds real meat to the report including criminal records, social network information and financial information such bankruptcies and tax liens.

In between is the 1-State Criminal Records search for around $15.

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How to Use US Search?

Maybe not as cutting edge as it was when it pioneered the concept of supplying people’s info online, US Search remains a solid entry in the field, well-suited for those with an occasional need to search out basic contact information in order to reconnect with someone you’ve lost touch with over the years or double check a new acquaintance’s backstory.

Sign-up

Although the signup process is fairly straightforward, it wasn’t immediately clear I was signing up for the monthly OmniSearch subscription and that if I wanted to dig deeper into any subject’s info I was going to have to pay quite a bit more to do it.

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People Search/OmniSearch

This is where US Search really earns its keep. If you’re only occasionally in need of locating a shoestring relative’s phone number or feel moved to contact your best bud from PS 23, a one-time People Search is the way to go. For less than $3 you’ll get an extensive list of possible matches, allowing you to focus your efforts on the most likely subject without paying for multiple look-ups.

Both include an address history check and list of relatives/associates which can be a real help in helping narrow down where you need to look or help you connect with that hard to locate someone through a third party.

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An OmniSearch monthly membership gives you access to the same basic info for an unlimited number of searches with the flexibility to opt-out whenever you please, an arrangement perfect for putting together contact lists for a class reunion or similar events. Be aware, thought, that you’ll be charged automatically each month unless you cancel your subscription online or, more problematically, by phone. US Search’s customer service phone lines are open Monday through Friday only from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pacific Time (3 hours behind the east coast and some 7 ahead of Alaska and Hawaii.

One-State Criminal Check/Background Check

US Search’s pricier options provide more info, but, in many cases, from fewer sources. For instance, the company has access to marriage and divorce records from only 11 states and criminal records from 43 (excluding Colorado, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, North and South Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming). So, if you want to check if that great new dude/dudette you just met at the Flax Festival is, in fact, a serial polygamist/bigamist chances are you’ll need to go another route. Likewise if you’d feel better about your second cousin’s nephew from Wyoming with the odd face tattoo dating your daughter after a criminal records check.

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The 1-State Criminal Check is a check of the records available from a selected state for specific person. If that person has a criminal record in another state it will not appear in the 1-State Criminal Check.

The full on, full-priced Background Check proves all available criminal and financial info in the form of property ownership details and info about civil judgments, bankruptcies and tax liens. In order to limit identify theft, US Search does not provide credit histories, dates of birth and other sensitive information.

Reverse phone lookup

US search can also tell you who belongs to that phone number that keeps mysteriously appearing on your caller id, a family member’s phone or on a phone bill.

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How Good is US Search Data?

As a testament to US Search’s accuracy, it remembered more about me than I did, digging up an address from two decades ago I lived at for about a year and a half. Even better when I did a little digging on a neighbor, not only did it corroborate facts I was already certain of, it filled in a few blanks besides and as an added bonus displayed a satellite photo of what I couldn’t see clearly over the fence from next door. And when curiosity got the better of me it located the current location of my first crush. Try as I might, I could not unearth any criminals or deadbeats in my circle of friends and acquaintances, confirming I must be running in the right circles.

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How do I Cancel US Search?

Pretty standard stuff here. To cancel, go to your account settings, scroll to “membership info” and choose “cancel service.” Or you can contact customer support by phone M-F from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. PACIFIC TIME, or Email: cservice@ussearch.com. Service terminates at end of current billing term.

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US Search Final Thoughts

I’d say this is a perfect site for the occasional, largely benign searches or to follow up on strong evidence that someone is not who or what they are pretending to be. US Search could be problematic if you’re planning on using it frequently for your business or for more specific checks of employment or education histories.

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eVerify Review

  • Price
  • Accuracy
  • Support
  • Interface/Features

Summary

eVerify is singularly suited for deep research on a single subject and would be an expensive choice for someone looking to compile contact info on Riverdale High’s Class of 1979.

2.3
User Rating 0 (0 votes)
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Pros

  • Lots of info.

Cons

  • TMI – for casual searches
  • Funky web design
  • Pricey and cumbersome for multiple searches

Meh

  • Notable problems with accuracy.

Who is eVerify?

A background check on this background check website turns up very little information other than a Boston, Mass., mailing address. Further complicating matters is the fact the employment verification website shared by the Department of Homeland Security and US Citizenship and Immigration Service has a nearly identical name: E-Verify. (Make sure you’re using the right one!)

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eVerify Pricing and Available Plans

eVerify’s $19.95 Instant One Time Report could be the best bargain out there in terms of the amount of raw data it dredges up.

The $2.95 5-Day Trial, on the other hand, is kind of a tease, promising a lot, but frequently turning up just a long list of “no reports found” responses, which are suddenly filled with scads of data when you pay the $19.95 to tack on a “premium search.”

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How to Use eVerify?

Sign up

Is relatively quick and painless as is cancelling the service.

Ease of use

Not so much. Not only does this site have a name dangerously similar the government site it also shares the same kind of red-white-and-blue, stars-and-stripes-forever themed web design. And it can be difficult to separate search results from Great New Offers! However, once mastered the site could be very useful for professionals tasked with meticulously checking out every single detail of a subject’s past and present associates, dealings, finances and history.

Standard search

eVerify requires more patience to negotiate than many other sites. General searches turn up so many possible matches that it can be very difficult to home in on the one person you’re checking up on (which is probably why there’s an instructional video prominently displayed on the site’s homepage). You’re best off narrowing down your search however you can beforehand (like knowing middle initials, relatives or narrowing the geographic scope of your search as much as possible.)

The standard search offers a big bonus when it comes to checking out the bad guys in your neighborhood, however. A list of sex offenders, complete with mug shots when available, living in the vicinity of the person you’ve searched for is automatically tacked onto the end of eVerify’s standard search.

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Premium search

eVerify’s premium search seems better suited to professionals such as investigative reporters or private eyes than it is to soccer dads checking up on carpool drivers. This search returns long lists of financial information as well as sizable numbers of the subject’s associates and the current owners of homes they once owned.

If you’re looking to talk to someone’s former neighbors, employers and need a fairly detailed snapshot of their past and current financial situation, you’ll get it here. The premium search is so detailed it brings up the all subject’s neighbors’ phone numbers which is, somehow, a little creepy.

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Social media/emails

As much information as this site returns on friends, relatives and associates, it’s very weak where social media and emails are concerned, frequently returning nothing at or results that are very clearly incorrect.

Customer service

Online – all the time. Call center – 10 a.m.-8p.m. EST, M-F.

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How Good is eVerify Data?

A premium search of my neighbor turned up more info (38 pages) than I could ever possibly want, need or have the time to carefully read. An attempt to locate an old college buddy with a standard search, on the other hand, was an exercise in frustration – pretty much the only result was a list of hundreds of names of possible matches without much to help further narrow down the list. While thorough in some respects, the site returned some clearly inaccurate results, especially in the area of social media, attributing accounts in Texas to a friend located clear across the country who I know has never done business in the Lone Star State. Even more disturbing were the 14 non-existent criminal offenses that showed up when I ordered up a report on myself (which also included relatives who aren’t and, although I often have trouble nailing two boards together, listed my occupation as craftsman).

 

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How do I Cancel eVerify?

Cancellation for eVerify is a pretty straightforward process. Email them at https://members.everify.com/customer/help or hit them up on the phone at (800) 791-1427. That’s it! Just keep in mind that fees are billed monthly, so there are no refunds for any unused portion of the month you’ve got left.

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eVerify Final Thoughts

eVerify is just not for me. I can’t imagine needing this much info on anyone unless I was looking for a Russian mole deep inside my Silicon Valley server farm. eVerify provides far too much info, too much of it inaccurate, but will garner a good market among those looking to identify convicted sex offenders and other creeps in the neighborhood.

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PeopleFinders Review

  • Price
  • Accuracy
  • Support
  • Interface/features

Summary

PeopleFinders is a data service that allows you to simply and effectively search people with confidentiality and peace of mind. It is a cost-effective option that doesn’t skimp on quality or quantity of information and gives you the added bonus of unlimited background searches.

4.8
User Rating 0 (0 votes)
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Pros

  • The site was very easy to use and provided an easily understandable collection of data.
  • Considering other companies I looked into, the price for what you receive is fantastic.
  • The data returned proved to be very accurate and, though not perfect, it was better than I expected from an online aggregation of information.
  • Cancellation was simple and painless.

Cons

  • When searching myself, I found quite a few ‘relatives’ that were so distant that they would not even know who I was; a wife of a cousin of my brother’s first wife, for example. It was a stretch to label them as relatives.

Meh

  • Some of the relatives listed provided phone numbers and addresses despite having been deceased for over 25 years.

Recently, my teenage daughter was invited to join her best friend and her family on a weekend getaway up north to the family cabin. They talked about skiing and sledding and it all sounded really fun but I was still a little uneasy because I wasn’t that familiar with the family. I decided to put my fears to rest and just do a little searching to make sure that the parents were good people. Truth be told, we don’t know many people in that area and wanted to make sure that the surrounding neighborhood was safe, too.
I looked online for a background search company and was presented with a host of options. I dug a little deeper to find the highest rated research company and eventually landed on PeopleFinders.

Who is PeopleFinders?

Once I decided which company was most attractive, I looked a little more into who they are. PeopleFinders has been in business since 1998 and is stationed in Sacremento, California. They’re considered a DaaS, or a “Data as a Service”, company and the amount of information they have access to is a bit scary but can be very helpful. Their query of information goes back 40+ years, which is going to ensure very thorough results. I was very impressed to see that they have received a plethora of awards including, but not limited to, the “Top 10 Best: Top 10 People Search Sites” and the 3 from the WMA for “Best of Industry; Information Services Standard of Excellence; and Standard of Excellence Award”

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PeopleFinders Pricing and Available Plans

With PeopleFinders, I found the interface much more user-friendly than the others and it allowed me to do a simple search to get what I needed. I was a bit confused at first because it offered a 3 day trial for $2.95 with a $29.95 monthly charge if you kept the service but below that offer it also offered $7.95 for the report and trial together. Upon digging deeper, I realized that the $2.95 price was what would be charged if you ended up canceling within the 3 days. Otherwise, you’d pay the $7.95 each month you continued the service.

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In my opinion, that was a steal of a price so I continued. I noticed at the checkout that there was a spot for a promo code so I did a quick google search to see if I could find something to sweeten the deal and found a 50% off deal but upon continuing through the link it turned out to be more expensive than the price I had already. However, deals change quite often so you might be able to find a discount if you look.

I would caution you to pay attention when you sign up because it offers something called “Rewards” which allows you to do $1 background checks, assisted searches, reports on yourself, genealogy census searches, etc. It says in the fine print that you’ll be charged $24.99/mo for this service and if you aren’t careful you could click right through this without looking. I chose to not go this route and pressed the link below that says, “No thanks, complete my order without signing up for rewards”.

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How to Use PeopleFinders?

The simplicity of the process was very nice. All it required was for me to enter my friend’s first and last name and the city and it returned a few results with the information I needed to choose the correct person. I entered my financial information and submitted the form and within moments I was all set.

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I was absolutely astonished by the wealth of information presented to me as soon as I ran the report. There were no less than 50 relatives, all listing their addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, and maiden name. No doubt, the long list included cousins and distant family. It listed her property ownership information and gave not only the location but also that she owned multiple properties. It showed no evictions or foreclosures, which showed me that she has maintained good financial standing.

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One thing that surprised me was that it gave me a list of their neighbors with the address and phone number. If I wanted to, I could have easily called the neighbors and asked them for their opinion of her. There are situations where I may have done that but in this instance I did not. Further down, it listed no criminal records, liens, judgements, bankruptcies etc. Essentially, it showed that they both had a clean slate, which gave me the reassurance I needed to trust her.

Because I’m a cynic and I didn’t find any criminal records on the report I wanted to make sure that it wasn’t just left empty so I decided to do a little investigating. I looked up a well known criminal to see if he had anything listed and sure enough he had his criminal record posted on the background check along with a foreclosure. This bolstered my confidence in the accuracy of the information I was being given.

Taking it one step further, I wanted to look into the neighborhood surrounding the cabin. With the premium membership, it was as simple as plugging in the address!

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It immediately brought up a list of current and previous owners as well as allowed me to see who the neighbors were.

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I could do background checks on the neighbors that were closest if I wanted to. That, paired with a local sex-offender search, made me feel so much better about sending my daughter off for the weekend. I was confident that the people she was going with and the people she may meet there were all good people and it was very unlikely that she would find herself in a bad situation.

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How Good is PeopleFinders Data?

The membership came with unlimited background checks so I looked myself up. I was glad to see that the information presented was about 95% correct. I continued, almost with a guilty pleasure, looking up family members and other people I knew, just for fun.
Upon returning to the home page I noticed that I was offered a free reverse phone number look-up, so I gave that a shot. I began with myself and it showed me my address as well as who had previously owned my phone number. I ended up looking up a few phone numbers of people I had screened calls from because they had not been programmed into my phone. As it turns out, they were old friends and I was able to reconnect with them for drinks and to catch up. Had I not had this service I would have never known that they had called me and I would have missed this opportunity.

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How do I Cancel PeopleFinders?

It was actually rather difficult to make the decision to cancel my subscription to this site. I found myself intrigued by the endless background checks but eventually had to resign my curiosity and fight the urge to search everyone I knew. Still, some things are better left unknown. When I cut myself off, the cancellation process was very simple. There was a basic form to with a few questions asking you to explain why you were canceling your subscription.

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PeopleFinders Final Thoughts

Finding myself in a situation where I need to trust someone I don’t know with my precious daughter is a bit terrifying but I was very glad that PeopleFinders was able to give me the peace of mind that I needed. Their information was thorough and reliable and it helped me make an informed decision that I felt good about. Not finding much was the best result I could have hoped for.

The last thing I wanted to find was that she had some sort of criminal records for theft. However, had there been some mark on their records I would have definitely been glad I looked. Thankfully, PeopleFinders offers a level of quality and quantity of information that just doesn’t seem to be available other places.

I really didn’t find anything wrong with the site as a whole – I would definitely use it again if a situation arose that I needed to; Perhaps she starts dating!

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Cyber Bullying: Helping the Bullied, Stopping the Bullies

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Introduction

Children and teens, who are just learning to navigate social relationships, often find themselves in social situations that are fraught with awkward exchanges. When the line between normal, even acceptable, playful teasing crosses into bullying, problems arise. It’s often difficult for them, and even adults, to discern when teasing becomes bullying, and when a laughing together becomes laughing at someone else’s expense.

Simply put, bullying can be boiled down to unwanted social attention. While it can be subtle or blatant; take place online, or in public; be physical or aggressive; there are a few characteristics that can help define bullying.

What Defines Bullying?

RIP is a good mnemonic to help remember the key elements of defining bullying behavior:

Repetition

Bullying is repetitive, especially after the bullied person has asked for it to stop; thus, the bully is aware that s/he is causing the bullied person(s) physical/emotional discomfort, and furthering the power dynamic. Additionally, bullying is often focused, repeatedly, on the same person, or groups of people.

Power

Bullying is done with the intent of hurting others. This can be physically, or emotionally. A bully is fully aware that they are hurting their targets, and do it anyway.

Intent

In general, a bully (or group of bullies) is in a position of social, or physical, power over the person(s) s/he is bullying. The misconception about bullying is that it’s done only by (a) physically strong person(s), or a popular person(s).

For more on the definition of bullying, see the American Psychological Association, Stop Bullying.Gov, or the National Bullying Prevention Center.

What are Typical Behaviors of Bullies?

Bullying behaviors can range from anything to excluding others from social groups, to physical aggression. It is a wide range that includes verbal, social and physical behaviors. For example, verbal, physical and social behaviors are all included in the definition of bullying.

Physical Bullying

Physical Bullying can range from intimidation, threats, and assault. Bullies can resort to any form of violence, such as pushing, kicking, punching or other such examples.

Childhood Example: A child pushes another child down, and steals his toy, or swing, at the playground.

Teen Example: One teen accidentally-on-purpose bumps into another in the hallway, between classes, spilling his books and papers.

Daven, who was bullied as a child, tells Parents and Teens Against Bullying.org, that the constant physical abuse that he endured from his bully, such as flicking, punching, and even having his bully’s snot wiped on him, was humiliating. He describes the effect of this time as isolating, and full of self-doubt, and that like most victims of bullies, he regrets not involving an adult. Daven lived to tell his tale, and recognize that, in his words, “bullying is the weak choice,” but, according to a Yale University study, bullied victims are up to 9% more likely to consider suicide; and, in the UK, some studies have linked up to half of youth suicides to bullying.

 Verbal/Social Bullying/Relational Bullying

Verbal bullying includes harassment in the form of teasing and taunting, such as name calling, manipulation, and spreading false rumors. According to StopBullying.gov, this is meant to destroy the victim’s reputation. Perhaps, most painful, relational and social bullying is also about socially isolating a victim, and making him/her feel like they don’t belong to their peer group.

Childhood Example: You are a poopie pants! You can’t play with us because you smell bad! We don’t play with poopie pants!

Teen Example: A group of girls stops talking as soon as Jennifer approaches. Jennifer, until a few weeks ago, considered those girls her best friends. She asks what their plans are for the weekend, and the girls exchange glances with one another, snicker, and one girl replies, “um, nothing you’d want to do.” The rest of the girls laugh. Jennifer walks away, and the girls immediately start talking and laughing again.

An Anonymous girl shares that her social isolation lead to her eventual need to be home-schooled, via a cyber-program. She says that it all started with a group of girls and a rumor that spread like wildfire; the anonymous victim lost all of her friends, and became increasingly isolated by her bullies. Still, she was not at peace, because her bullies created false social media accounts to leave cruel and taunting messages and comments on her social media pages. She wasn’t safe from their isolation, even in isolation. Ultimately, when she returned to school, her bullies weren’t finished with her. She tried to stand up for herself, but to no avail. Not unlike many bullying situations, this one doesn’t simply end; it trails on and on, highlighting administrative need for no-contact and knock-it-off policies.

Online Bullying

Online bullying consists of harassing a victim through social media, text message, email and other messaging systems. It also includes using a school’s online resources, or false online accounts to destroy a person’s online reputation.

Childhood Example: Depends on the social media access a child has.

Teen Example: Nice bathing suit. Ever hear of a diet? Or the gym?

There is almost no end to the examples of online bulling stories in the media these days. For example, Hannah Smith, was taunted mercilessly regarding her weight, skin condition, and even a death in her family, on the messaging site Ask.fm, for weeks leading up to her suicide in 2013. Or, there is the story of Grace K. McComas, who was cyberbullied for months leading up to her suicide in 2012.

Online Bullying – Sexually Explicit Subcategory

Online bullying may have a sexual component, such as blackmail, as the bully may have access to compromising information or explicit content. The misconception is that the teen always sends the compromising material to the bully themselves. This isn’t always the case; and even if it were, it doesn’t, or shouldn’t matter. For example, in the case of Erin Andrews, the TV Sportscaster and personality who was famously involved in the “peephole” video and subsequent cyberbullying saga, she was videotaped, in the nude, in her hotel rooms, as she traveled for work, without her knowledge over the course of several years. Her life and career was nearly destroyed by a bully, and she continues to endure cyberbullies who tweet and message her regularly about the incident. Often, teens have photos (or videos) taken of them in bathrooms, through windows, or when they are unconscious. The very real pain at the loss of reputation, coupled with the mockery from peers, can be devastating.

Take the suicide of Jessica (Jesse) Logan, a typical, otherwise happy high school senior from Ohio, who sexted a nude to her boyfriend. They broke up, and he cruelly sent the photo to everyone at their school. She tried to soldier on, but her grades dropped, she started skipping school, and to make it through the day, she’d hide in the bathroom to avoid the students who were calling her a slut, and a whore. She even tried to make the best of a bad situation, going on a local news program as a victim’s advocate for cyberbullying, hoping to prevent something similar from happening to someone else. But, after attending the funeral for someone else, another suicide, Jesse came home and hung herself in her closet.

Who are Most Targeted for Bullying

Bullying can seem random, sometimes; but current research shows that nearly a quarter of students report being bullied. There is some data to suggest that certain types of students are at more risk for bullies than others, and certain personalities are more at risk for being bullies than others.

Students who are more likely to be bullied are generally perceived as “different” than their peers. LGBT youth, and those with disabilities, are especially at risk. However, these, and others, are protected under the law, from such provocation. For example, race, religion ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation and disability are all protected classes, under national law. Schools should all be versed on law, and have policies in place to protect these students, should conflicts arise.

Aside from the general idea of those who are less popular than the “in crowd,” students who simply don’t get along well with others, appear anxious, or are unable to defend themselves against provocation are easy targets for bullies. Of course, those who look different than others are always targets for bullies as well; this means that those who are overweight, or who dress differently, or wear their hair in a different fashion. None of the above list will necessarily guarantee that someone will be harassed, but it will certainly not help, if a bully is out to get them.

Often, educators focus on the victims of bullying, and fail to identify the types of students who can become bullies, and therefore don’t intervene before there’s a potential problem. But, it’s equally important to help the bully; according to the Olweus Bullying Prevention Group, 60 percent of boys who were bullies in middle school had a criminal conviction by 24. Shockingly, 40 percent had three or more convictions.

Bullies are born from students who are not only overly-concerned with social status, but also with dominance over their weaker peers to bolster, or mask, their own self-esteem issues. Bullies that turn to physical aggression, not surprisingly, often have issues with violent behavior, and with following rules and standards, and often “hang” with the wrong crowd. Perhaps most importantly, according to a University of Washington and Indiana University Study, administrators may be able to spot them early and intervene, by noting that bullies are far more likely to come from troubled and violent homes.

Cyber Bullying

Definition of Cyberbullying:

The same qualities of repeated, intentional, and social/psychological power plays are involved with cyberbullying. The only difference is that the bullying takes place via electronic mediums such as cell phones, computers or other electronic devices. Cyberbullying can be threatening text messages, e-mails; or, it can even rumors or information posted on public, social media sites or message boards. It can take place exclusively online; or, bullies can combine cyberbullying with traditional bullying.

Cyberstalking

It’s easy to confuse cyberbullying with cyberstalking, especially because we often hear these words used interchangeably, sometimes. It’s especially easy to become confused because cyberbullying has an element of stalking to it: the relentless messaging, the social media pages, and the ability to track the victim, online.

However, cyberstalking is a bit different. Cyberstalking is a repetitive, malicious vendetta often with no legitimate purpose, ironically against a very personal target, carried out with premeditation and obsessive zeal. Cyberstalkers disregard all warnings to stop their illegal activity, and reasonable reasons to stop (like that they are causing distress to another human being).

How is Cyberbullying Different?

Cyberbullying is, in many ways, different than “typical” bullying. Cyberbullying is primarily psychological, as it’s perpetrated through social manipulation and intimidation via messaging and interference with one’s social status through message boards and groups. The primary, and most important, difference between cyberbullying, and traditional bullying, is that it can, and often does, occur 24-hours a day. Cyberbullying takes the “repetition part of bullying to the extreme.

Victims have no respite, or safe place, from their bullies. If they are being bullied on their cell phones, their message beep can go off, even in the safety of their bedroom, even when they are asleep. If they are gaming, involved in a safe community of peer players, it can quickly be infiltrated by bullies who attack them with brutal messages, or ostracization.

Another major difference with cyberbullying is that the “power” may not be the same typical social or physical imbalance that a typical bully has over their victim. Instead, a cyberbully may have access to virtual information, such as an “incriminating,” message, e-mail, or photograph that the victim doesn’t want anyone else to see. This is still an imbalance of power, but not in the traditional sense. It changes the power dynamic, and makes power somewhat of a grey area in the bully/victim relationship, as the bully may have access to this information because they were formerly close, or even intimate, with their victim.

Cyberbullying and Sex

Worst of all, much of cyber bullying, especially among older students, is sometimes sexually motivated, or sexually graphic. Even if untrue, cyber bullying can spread false rumors, ruining reputations through social groups. While the CDC reports that sexual promiscuity among teens is down, with an average of less than 30% of teens having engaged in sexual activity in the previous three months, 21% of those surveyed had been drinking or doing drugs, prior to sexual activity. With inhibitions lowered, photos, texts and videos are a problem.

The subjects of the new Netflix document documentary, Audrie and Daisy (2016), are teenage girls who both admit to drinking more than they normally would one night. These girls learn the hard way that the boys they thought they trusted to care for them at their worst are only lying in wait for their weakest moments, snapping photos of them as they disrobe them, probe their nude bodies, and then spreading videos, texts or rumors around their respective schools. Audrie’s will doesn’t withstand the torturous rigor of the texts, emails and constant shaming she feels at the loss of her reputation; she commits suicide. Daisy attempts to kill herself several times, especially when she learns that her perpetrators will not face sexual assault charges, and she’s called a liar and a whore by her fellow students, former friends via text and message, relentelessly.

However, not all victims of cyberbullying find online contact distressing. In fact, according to the Second Youth Internet Safety Survey, 38% of students weren’t bothered by being harassed online. It was only when online harassment crossed into offline harassment as well, did they feel upset by e-bullying.

Importance of Cyberbullying

Estimates of victims of cyberbullying vary; some studies find as many as 40% of students have reported incidents of cyberbullying. According to the CDC, 15% of high school students have reported being electronically bullied, in the past year; and, according to the National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics, 7% of students between grades 6-12 experienced cyber-bullying. Noting that cyberbullying appears to more than double, when restricted to high school students, but is reported early, begs intervention and knowledge regarding how students are engaging, and how to intervene as early as possible.

Cyberbullying.org conducted a study that made it especially clear to students what the definition of cyberbullying is. They told students that cyberbullying meant “repeatedly mak[ing] fun of another person online, or repeatedly pick[ing] on another person through email or text message; or when someone posts something online about another person that they don’t like.” With this definition, about 25% of 10,000 randomly selected 11-18 year olds reported that they’d been cyberbullied (over the past seven years); but only 12% in the past year (January 2014). 17% admitted to cyberbullying others in the past seven years; and only 4% admitted to bullying others in the past year.

This data tells us that while we may have been behind, figuring out this arena where students have been harassing their peers, programs and procedures that are designed to target and reduce it, are working. Therefore, we need to continue to both recognize and highlight cyberbullying as a problem, and we need to work toward positive and effective solutions to eliminate it.

Identifying Cyberbullying

Identifying cyberbullying starts by realizing that you need to look for both victims and bullies. Unlike traditional bullying, victims and bullies share some similar behaviors, such as hiding their phone screens from teachers, quickly minimizing computer browser windows from adults, or refuses to discuss their online activity with adults (or others). However, victims and bullies do behave differently in other ways.

 Identifying Cyberbullies

  • Seems to have multiple accounts, or access to others’ accounts
  • Uses electronic devices at all hours of the day, especially (and including) at night
  • Expresses inappropriate anger at limits on electronic device usage

 Identifying Cyberbully Victims

  • Generalized increase in anxiety, depression or frustration
  • Increased anger, frustration or depression after using electronic media
  • Refusal to talk with parents or teachers about online activities
  • Stops using electronic devices
  • Withdrawal from social, or even home, activity

In this video, despite some of the out dated technology, we see many the examples of a “typical,” cyberbully, and a “typical,” cyberbullying victim. The bully makes attempts to socially isolate the victim, makes him feel socially inferior, and is cruel. The victim withdraws at home, seems sad and refuses to discuss his problem with his mother, quickly hiding all evidence.

Identifying Cyberbullying Culture

According to recent data, students are less likely to report cyberbullying when their school promotes a climate with safe peer-to-peer relationships, and a generally safe environment. Currently, there is not enough research on this nebulous topic; but according to Cyberbyullying.org, students who agreed with statements such as, “feel[ing] safe at school,” feel[ing] that teachers at their school really try to help them succeed,” and “feel[ing] that teachers at their school care about them,” were less likely to report either being victims of cyberbullying, or being cyberbullies themselves. The good news, is that while incidents of cyberbullying are up more than 50 percent in the last five years, nearly 70 percent of students who felt harassed sought help from a trusted friend, parent, or other adult authority figure, leaving room for trusted practices to work.

If You See Something, Say Something

There’s no room for bystanders in bullying. With over 80% of teens using a cell phone, it’s difficult to catch; but, that’s why it’s important for adults to be engaged in the lives of young people and adolescents. Ask questions. Be involved. Notice when things are different. Quite simply: pay attention. And remember, bystanders are victims too. Bystanders report symptoms of anxiety, guilt and shame associated with incidents of bullying.

How to Help in a Cyber Bullying Situation

There’s a relatively simple list of items/ideas that can help in any cyberbullying situation:

Form Relationships

Be a friend to youth. Or, encourage your children to have an adult friend. It’s okay if your children feel more comfortable confiding in a coach, or teacher; just make sure they feel comfortable confiding in someone.

Talk it Out

Mediation can sometimes help resolve a bullying situation, if it’s a misunderstanding that has blown out of proportion. Attempt a talk-it-out situation carefully, if you engage a trained counselor as a mediator and you are confident that violence won’t escalate.

Go Online

Make sure you visit websites that your children frequent, with them, and learn the ins and outs of the pages. Get to know their online “friends,” and be aware of their online activity. Know when things change.

Teach Them Appropriate Responses

It’s never a good idea to add fuel to a fire; so, teach your children not to respond to cyberbullies. Don’t give them any information, respond to any messages, or let them know that they are bothering you. In many ways, this is not much different than traditional bullying; as emotional as it may seem, leaving it alone, may be the best answer.

Evidence

Despite the grey areas of the laws, cyberbullying and cyberstalking are against the law. While there is some potential shame and fear associated with cyberbullying, especially if it’s related to sexual activity, or rule-breaking such as underage drinking or drug use, it’s vital that kids and teens are instructed to never delete any harassing messages.

Report

All online services, such as Facebook, or even Craigslist, have reporting services to report unauthorized, or inappropriate usage, and cyberbullying. Without screenshots and evidence, it’s almost impossible to enforce their policies, however. Utilize their reporting services, and provide them with the evidence you’ve saved to quickly put an end to “small” incidents of cyberbullying.

Utilize Law Enforcement

Most schools have resource officers; engage them, and make sure they are aware of incidents of cyberbullying among the students in their purview. More importantly, make sure that they are aware of the laws that govern cyberbullying in their state, and how to enforce them. Resource officers are specially trained to deal with students and adolescents; sometimes, simply allowing the resource officer to intervene is enough to scare the cyberbully into stopping, rather than engaging criminal charges. However, if activity continues, or if harassment is especially malicious, engage the entire team and report activity to the local and state authorities.

Knock-it-Off Policy and No-Contact

If the bullying is especially pervasive or violent, and as such is affecting the learning environment, it is important to make sure that students are supervised and kept apart as much as possible, both to protect their safety, and to keep other students from being affected. It’s important to make sure that the situation is left to fizzle, rather than ignite. An adult can be provided to walk a student to class, to sit nearby, but not necessarily with the student, in the cafeteria, for example.

Appoint Staff at Every Level

An anti-bullying task manager or team manager should be assigned at the elementary through high school level to work with faculty, administrators, counselors and staff to be kept abreast of all new information in the field, and to have “boots on the ground,” as it were, with the students. Engage a staff member who cares about bullying, stopping it, and about student mental health.

Recognize Limits of “Zero-Tolerance” Programs

Zero-tolerance sounds good on paper, and it sounds good to parents; but, for kids it can sound scary and it can make them afraid to report bullying for fear of reprisal, perhaps even fearing that they may be disciplined themselves, as part of the bullying scenario. Zero tolerance policies have their merits, but it’s important to recognize their limits when dealing with complex bullying scenarios, adolescents and teens.

Engage Parents

Parents are a valuable resource. In many cases, they will be the ones who will be able to tell you if the student’s eating, sleeping, or behavior habits have drastically changed, which will help sound the alarm to a more serious situation. Additionally, parents are a great resource to help reinforce school policy; as administrators you want them on your team, so listen to their needs and be conscious of them. Their primary concern, and yours, is stopping their child’s hurt.

Engage the Community

Community leaders, especially city and county leaders such as mayors and city council members have taken strong roles in speaking out against anti-bullying. Take the time to engage them in speaking at your school, or in writing letters to your students. Engage your local sports teams, or other civic leaders to form a culture of anti-bullying at your school.

Environment

The best way to prevent bullying, of any kind, is to create an environment where bullying isn’t tolerated or condoned. In an ideal world, this is easy. All students love one another, and everyone gets along. There’s no gossip, everyone’s a star athlete, plays in the school band, and gets straight A’s. But, that’s not how it works. So, StompOutBullying, makes these Top 20 suggestions for “Stomping Out” Bullying in your school:

  1. Don’t laugh
  2. Don’t encourage the bully
  3. Stay at a safe distance, and help the target get away
  4. Don’t become an “audience” for the bully
  5. Reach out and become a friend to a bullying victim
  6. Help the victim in any way that you can
  7. Support the victim in private
  8. If you notice someone being isolated, invite them to join you
  9. Include the victim in some of your activities
  10. Tell an adult if you see bullying, or are being bullied
  11. Encourage your school to participate in bullying or cyberbullying prevention programs
  12. Start a peer mentoring program at school
  13. Raise awareness of bullying and cyberbullying prevention in your community
  14. Teach friends about being more tolerant of others, even if they are different
  15. Ask your school to set up a private box where kids who are bullied can report it, anonymously
  16. Get someone to sponsor a conflict resolution team
  17. Encourage school administrators to adopt Internet-use policies that address online hate, harassment and pornography
  18. Create events in your school and community to raise anti-bullying, and bullying prevention awareness.
  19. Create bullying prevention awareness posters for your school
  20. Stand up and do something when you hear someone making jokes or comments about: someone’s sexual identity, family member(s), weight, clothing, skin color, accent, or disability.

Stomping Out

Sit with Us

Consider allowing the use of smart phones, especially with apps like SitWithUs, an app designed especially for bullied kids, by a teenager, a victim of bullying herself. The app is designed for kids with no one to sit with in the school cafeteria; they can designate themselves as “alone,” and hope that someone else, an ambassador, will see their avatar and invite them to their table, or vice versa. So far, it’s being used in lunchrooms across the country, and even internationally. It prevents kids from being openly rejected, if they stroll up to a table, and try to make a new friend, while simultaneously being invited to be friends with new people. It means never having to eat alone, and never being rejected.

Cyberbullying and the Law

Currently, cyberbullying is covered at the state level. All states have laws covering cyberbullying, but there is a wide range of what is allowable, for prosecution, or what is considered legal, or protected, under the letter of the law. The Cyberbullying Research Center keeps an updated, interactive map of what states have what laws, including those proposed.

Importantly, laws must consider the fact that cyberbullying can occur both on and off campus. So, laws have to be proposed in such a way that educators have to make a determination whether cyberbullying that happens off campus is having a noticeable detrimental effect on the learning environment on campus. To understand the confusion, realize that states either have decided on criminal sanctions, school sanctions, school policy, or an off-campus policy (or a combination of these).

These terms can be confusing, because they all sound so similar.

Sanction

A threatened penalty for disobeying.

Criminal Sanctions

Because cyberbullying (and bullying) can be classified as a crime, it is subject to criminal punishments.

School Sanctions

Schools get to create and adopt their own disciplinary measures and policies.

School Policy

The bullying law requires all states, apart from Montana, to set an anti-bullying policy to both identify behaviors and disciplinary policies.

School Sanctions

In some states, the bullying law gives the school latitude to discipline students in certain appropriate ways.

Off-Campus

As mentioned above, schools are allowed to discipline students for off-campus behavior, if they’ve determined that it disrupts the on-campus learning environment.

California has a “Yes” in all four categories above, for example; as does New Jersey, Louisiana and Pennsylvania and Tennessee. However, states like Wyoming are only 50% yes and 50% no. There are wide variations from state-to-state.

In some cases, felony harassment charges can be brought against cyberbullies; but, there is currently no federal laws against cyberbullying, specifically. The only specific federal laws, are those that can be brought against protected classes, as mentioned in Section 1. Protected classes, such as those with disabilities, LGBT, or minorities should be versed in the following federal laws. School administrators and staff should obviously be equally aware.

Cyberbullying Education

Education and information is part of the answer to stopping cyberbullying. Teaching our kids how to respond to harassment properly, and teaching our kids how not to bully, is a big part of the solution. So, how soon is too soon to teach kids about cyberbullying?

Kid’s Health recommends framing discussions about bullying, in general, as early as Pre-K, in age-appropriate ways. Eyes On Bullying agrees, pointing out that, often, people overlook early childhood years in bullying prevention, because they underestimate both children’s intelligence, and their emotional maturity. Teach InCntrl promotes cyberbullying education for all students across all areas of the curriculum.

Bullying in very young children can look very different, however, with a strong tendency toward subtle bullying for girls and physical bullying for boys. In an example described in their book, Dr. Storey and Dr. Slaby describe a scenario in which a preschool girl, sitting at lunch begins a game in which she questions the children at her table, requiring them to raise their hands for affirmative responses with prompts like, “who likes X, Y, Z.” All of her prompts are things that all children would be sure to respond in the affirmative to, such as candy, movies and the like. But, when she gets to the end of her inquiries, she asks, “and who likes Madeline?” This is the beginning of social bullying.

hey suggest bullying education for children begin as early as preschool with social skills education, while they develop the language skills to express the feelings they are having. It’s important to catch bullying behaviors while they are happening and reappoint them into appropriate social interactions. Story time and circle, or morning meeting time, they suggest, is a good time to use examples and engagement to point out appropriate ways to interact with peers, and to define the line between teasing and taunting.

Additionally, they recommend the key life skills of empathy, problem solving and assertiveness to both address bullying, and to prevent becoming one. To learn empathy, they suggest that students learn to label their feelings and that they learn to compare themselves to others in a way that helps them appreciate their differences. Additionally, helping others to feel better teaches children to feel better about themselves, and helps reinforce the “golden rule.” Problem solving activities, such as team-work, and rudimentary what-if scenarios help preschoolers learn to deal with frustration in a safe environment to build their self-confidence. Assertion activities, such as teaching kids to keep their cool, and role-playing response scenarios, and learning when to ignore and when to get help are important tools for preschoolers to both build their self-esteem, and to understand the complexities of bullying scenarios.

Counseling and Resources for Victims

There are several, national anti-bullying resource centers set up to both provide information, and to direct victims, parents, and educators to required resources. For example, the Victims of Crime Resource Center Hotline is reachable at 1-800-Victims, and through their website. Additionally, The Cyberbullying Research Center provides links to not only report bullying on all major social media sites, but also information and resources to victims, nationwide. StopBullying.gov also provides access to both information and links to both national phone number databanks, and links to local counselors.

StompOutBullying is a national website with a 24-7 web-chat service for teens to find access to help for support about bullying. Trained counselors monitor the chat room to provide support and assistance to teens who are looking for advice. Additionally, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry’s (AACP) website provides a clearinghouse of both information about bullying and cyberbullying, but also links to resources and links to counseling services in your child’s area.

 Cyberbullying on Social Media and  Popular Websites

New social media sites pop up seemingly every day. And, just as quickly fade away. Keeping up with what your tweens and tweens are doing online, and who they are doing it with, is important to helping them avoid both their being cyberbullied, or becoming one. For example, a newer(ish) social media site, Musical.ly has taken social media by storm, often outranking Snapchat and Instagram in the App Store. Musical.ly, a seemingly harmless video sharing site, where people can lip-sync to their favorite tunes, is no different than other social media sites, in terms of potential for cyberbullying or predatory danger. Privacy and user settings, and parental oversight can go a long way in preventing many dangerous, and harassment situations.

Facebook

While it seems, sometimes, that Facebook set the gold standard for social media, it seems that teens began migrating away from it sometime ago. Still, they have a bullying prevention hub, especially targeted at teens. In their hub is access to a PDF, which includes step-by-step instructions and conversation starter ideas for teens who have found themselves in harassment scenarios.

The first step, is always to unfriend someone who is bothering you, and block offensive people. Of course, if there are false accounts out there, this can become problematic, and like cutting the head off of a hydra, but start there. And, FB warns that blocking is reciprocal, so you won’t be able to see what they post about you anymore, which can make you feel antsy, wondering if, on their page, false information about you is spreading like wildfire, now that you can’t see it anymore. Still, FB warns that the best steps are to stay calm and not to retaliate. They suggest that if there is something you find particularly offensive, you can delete it from the areas of FB that you have access to, but warn to save things you may need as evidence, if required. Additionally, they provide scripts and prompts to start conversations with people about how to calmly approach online bullies.

Interestingly, the provide the opposite side of the scenario. They provide resources for the bully. They consider what it might be like to be approached by a victim, and be blindsided as a bully, perhaps not even aware that they’ve committed an offensive act. They provide advice for the bully and suggest the most appropriate behaviors if you have been told that you’ve done something offensive to another person. For example, they suggest that you take the other person’s feelings into account, before you get angry and offended, and that the first thing you should do is apologize.

Get access to the entire PDF here. There’s also an area with links and suggestions for parents.

YouTube

Block and Delete. The most common advice of any website is going to start with these simple instructions. If you are being bothered by “troll,” especially in an isolated incident, which, on a site like YouTube is the most likely scenario, the first place they advise starting is to delete offending comments, or to ask the user to do so, and block offensive users. YouTube does have specific polices against hate speech; for example, they do not allow violence or hate speech against anyone based on race or ethnic origin, relation, disability, gender, age, veteran status, or sexual orientation/gender identity. They also have specific policies against setting up fake accounts, “Impersonation,” and any suspicion of such accounts should be reported immediately. YouTube also has very strict policies against Child Endangerment as it applies to depicting sex with minors, so sharing videos of underage children engaged in any sexual activity, is strictly prohibited and should absolutely be reported, especially as it pertains to cyberbullying situations. In these cases, being a bystander is against the law, not only against YouTube policy.

However, the rest of YouTube policy is a little greyer. For example, their policy regarding sexually explicit content is prohibitive when it comes to violent, humiliating or graphic fetish, but is inclusive when it comes to nudity when it is educational, documentary or artistic. Additionally, its graphic or violent content policy is essentially a free pass, so long as its journalistic, and especially if the title is descriptive and/or there is an especially clear warning to viewers.

Threats are taken seriously, and they caution that law enforcement should be engaged immediately; however. But, their policy on harmful or dangerous content, such as videos of drug use or of dangerous “challenges” such as the choking challenge, they deem allowable if the primary purpose is educational, documentary or scientific. Finally, they caution that the best way to avoid anything you don’t want to see is the block and delete button.

Instagram

Because of Instagram’s user settings, and communication settings, it’s particularly easy for cyberbullies to contact, and harass their victims, in various ways. For example, users can add cruel comments and hashtags to user’s photos, or create unflattering photos and attach them to a user’s photo/profile. Instagram has a reporting process for harassment and bullying.

Snapchat

Snapchat’s 10-second-and-it’s-gone makes it both easier, and more difficult for cyberbullies. It allows them to take incriminating photos, sometimes without the victim even realizing it, and send harassment without evidence lasting long enough to be traced. However, with quick knowledge of how to take a screenshot, a victim can track harassment, and there’s a way to stop the onslaught of constant messages. Snapchat has community guidelines, such as no pornography, and protecting someone’s privacy, such as not taking pics without someone else’s knowledge. And, Snapchat’s policy is no screenshots, despite their anti-bullying stance. It’s a nebulous arena. Still, they also have a reporting area; but also recommend a block first policy.

Snapchat does have policies to protect user’s privacy, and to prevent bullying. Primarily, to prevent cyberbullying, they do not allow for invasions of privacy, such as taking snaps of others without their knowledge. Additionally, they don’t allow for impersonation, much like YouTube, which means creating fake accounts, even to impersonate celebrities. Finally, they have a strict no-harassment policy, which means once someone has blocked you, you may not continue to harass them from another account, or from a new account. Their no-nudity policy, especially for those under 18 can contribute to a no-bullying environment by not allowing for embarrassing content, because it even prohibits sexually explicit drawings on otherwise benign snaps.

Twitter

According to both Buzzfeed News, and CIO, Twitter’s refusal to appropriately deal with cyberbullying and online abuse and harassment has drug the social media giant to near death. Twitter promises a revamp and an absolute focus on the issue. Their current advice starts with the same advice as the others: ignore, block and unfollow. They do have a reporting process on their website.

Skype

Skype’s online communities are a great way to meet and befriend all kinds of people, for all kinds of reasons, with all kinds of interests; however, there are all kinds of ways to find trouble when the world is so big. Communities on Skype can often help police themselves, with members reporting to one another when they are having trouble, and using the block and ignore feature. But, like all other social media features, Skype also has a report feature, depending on which interface you are using.

Messenger or Other Forums

Messenger and other chat forums rely on a community standard of “knowing” who you are talking to, rather than primarily stranger interaction, such as YouTube. The best way to avoid harassment is to be engaged with friends and people you are comfortable with, not with strangers. However, like all teens and tweens, social groups change, and falling outs occur, which can spill over into an online community setting. Again, ignore, block and delete when there’s trouble. If there’s evidence, save it. If there’s serious trouble, report it.

Data and Statistics

Much can be drawn from the raw data provided by bullying surveys. The primary data-gatherers on this topic are the CDC, The National Center for Education Statistics, and The Cyberbullying Research Center. Each of these sources compiles and gathers separate, but equally important sets of data that give us vital information.

When looked at, over time, from 2007, through 2016, the rate of reported cyberbullying offenders has declined sharply from 19.1% to 12.0% of students reporting self-reporting; however, the rates also fluctuate significantly from year to year, sometimes as much as 5-7%. Cyberbullying.org compiles data from ten different studies to gather an average of roughly 15.8% students who reported cyberbullying others, across the 9-year study period, with a low of 11.5% reporting in 2009, with an especially low sample class size. Intriguingly, the study compilation shows a sharp decrease in bullies self-reporting in 2009, suggesting that cyber bullying education has been helpful, but then an uptick to outpace 2007 numbers in 2010, and nearly again in 2011. It’s baffling to educators to figure out what works, and what doesn’t, to prevent bullying, when numbers like this present themselves over long spaces of time.

Intriguingly, victimization rates are nearly double the self-reporting rates for bullies, which suggests that either bullies are bullying more than one victim, that victims feel victimized by actions that bullies don’t necessarily feel is bullying, or that bullies are under-reporting. And, unlike the chaotic rise and fall of the bully self-reporting, victimization rates seem on a steady climb since 2007, with the exception of two slight dips in 2010 and 2013. The average reporting rate for victims, compiled over ten studies from cyberbullying.org is 27.9% and includes cyber bullying in all forms, such as e-mail, in the classroom, and over other electronic media.

An interesting comparison to note is the difference between reported victimization rates between middle schoolers and lifetime victimization rates. The rate doubles (or even triples) in almost all cases. This suggest an almost “grace” period in middle school where educators might be able to reach students and target bullying education, before the problem erupts.

Cyber bullying does not appear to discriminate for gender. Unlike other types of bullying where, for example, physical aggression is more typically associated with males, and social aggression is more typically associated with females, cyber bullying is more equally distributed. Both genders appear to be equally associated with cyber bullying behaviors. The disassociated connection with screens makes it easier for both genders to engage with behaviors that they may not otherwise engage in, if they were faced with an individual, making it easier for both genders to engage in cyber bullying behaviors; it’s like it’s simultaneously happening to both a real, and a not-real person.

Subsequently, victims of cyberbullying are also, mostly, equally spread amongst gender. There’s a slightly larger number of reported lifetime female cyber bully victims, but in general, victims are equally spread between male and female, especially amongst the middle school population. This suggests, once again, that the magic moment to reach the student population with cyber bullying education is at the beginning of middle school.

According to cyberbullying.org, middle schoolers use the Internet for a wide variety of purposes, and in descending order, it’s first and foremost for online games and homework, and lastly for chat rooms. Having data like this helps educators fine-tune education programs and gear bullying messages for their students based on what they know their students will be using and where they might be encountering bullying messages.

 Conclusion and Recommendations

Cyber bullying is part of a complex puzzle that, if reduced, improves student performance and success. But, we cannot forget things like the value of parental involvement, drug and alcohol education, other education on other teen behaviors that can affect student life, like sex education. For example, according to the CDC, for example, 10% of teens (over the age of 12) have used illicit drugs in the past month. And, it’s easy to forget, but many students come to school without having eaten a decent meal; in states like Missouri, over 20% of homes have food insecurity, not knowing where their next meal comes from. Alas, cyber bullying is a very important part of a student’s success, but it’s not the only piece of their puzzle.

And, in fact, determining the other pieces, and addressing those, may help suss out the cyber bullying problem. If a student is being bullied for being so-called promiscuous, for example; or, if a student is being bullied because he wears second-hand clothes; or, if a student is being bullied for getting bad grades; it’s obvious that knowing students is helpful. Additionally, having the appropriate district, counseling, and support services is vital to student success in all cases. There is no “stop bullying,” or even “zero tolerance,” in most cases. It is not as simple as enforcing a consequence, or mending a fence; it requires support for the victim, and likely for the bully.

Additionally, based on evidence, bullying education in primary and middle school grades is vital in prevention. As we become more screen-dependent, our children will be versed earlier in technology. Despite the American Academy of Pediatrics’ newly revised, and recently released, guidelines about screen time for young children, parents will continue to expose children to technology at younger ages, until they are practically programming satellites in the crib. If we are to expect our children to understand the limitless joy and knowledge that technology can bring, it is incumbent upon us to teach them the limitless responsibility that comes with it as well, including the responsibility they bear, as in all things, to not cause others pain.

 

 

The Most Bullied States in America in 2016

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Bullying is a major problem in schools across the United States, and it’s only gotten worse as Social Media takes a greater role in the day to day lives of children and teenagers everywhere. To get a better understanding of Bullying in America, our research team examined bullying statistics across the USA to create this list of the Most Bullied States in America.

[Important: If you are considering harming yourself, please visit this link or call 1-800-273-8255 to speak to someone who will listen].

Introduction

Bullying presents a major problem for students – it’s not just about feelings:

  1. 22% of all students were bullied during the school year.
  2. Bullying Victims are 2 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide, according to a Yale School of Medicine Study.
  3. In a study in the United Kingdom, 29% of bullied students self harmed themselves, 14% developed an eating disorder, and 12% ran away from home!
  4. Students who are bullied are at an increased risk for a huge range of problems, including:
    1. Sleeping problems
    2. Anxiety
    3. Depression
  5. Bullies themselves are at risk for violent behavior and substance abuse in the future.

Bullying has a real cost both on education and our pockets as taxpayers. A report by the National Education Association claims that over 160,000 children miss school every day because of fear of being bullied at school.  The National Association of Secondary School Principals report that this lower attendance can cost up to 2.3 million dollars a year, per public school.

Most Bullied States Map

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The Most Bullied States in America

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Most Bullied States Ranking

Most Bullied State RankingStateBullying Occurrence ScoreSchool Violence ScoreBullying Impact ScoreTotal Bullying Score
1Louisiana20.557.37513.02540.95
2Idaho23.554.72512.42540.7
3Arkansas20.556.813.0540.4
4West Virginia22.35.1511.839.25
5Nebraska22.65.17510.02537.8
6Michigan22.24.411.0537.65
7Mississippi17.5612.62536.125
8Tennessee19.75.2510.97535.925
9Kentucky19.55.37510.72535.6
10South Dakota205.310.02535.325
11Maine21.053.9759.37534.4
12Indiana17.24.42512.6534.275
13Alabama16.255.911.67533.825
14Texas16.455.4511.47533.375
15Iowa19.655.18.533.25
16Illinois17.454.6511.12533.225
17Utah19.354.3259.42533.1
18South Carolina16.94.32511.632.825
19Kansas19.53.12510.132.725
20Nevada16.64.3511.62532.575
21North Dakota19.952.659.77532.375
22Wisconsin20.153.5758.4532.175
23Georgia16.75.49.67531.775
24Oklahoma17.454.259.77531.475
25Missouri191.47510.6531.125
26California163.62510.830.425
27Pennsylvania17.13.459.82530.375
28New Mexico16.053.27510.92530.25
29Virginia16.654.1758.57529.4
30New Jersey18.052.2258.82529.1
31New York18.153.27.528.85
32Maryland15.755.9257.1528.825
33Colorado16.853.058.62528.525
34New Hampshire20.351.66.1528.1
35Hawaii16.65-11.37528.025
36Ohio17.951.558.2527.75
37Rhode Island13.953.47510.227.625
38North Carolina13.853.9259.82527.6
39Delaware14.054.5758.72527.35
40Massachusetts14.33.2259.1526.675
41Florida13.33.7258.7525.775
42Connecticut16.253.2255.32524.8
43Vermont8.255.1518.35
44Arizona-4.811.97516.775

Sufficient Data was not available from Washington, Oregon, Montana, Wyoming, Minnesota, Alaska and Washington D.C. Therefore, they are not ranked.

Best and Worst States For…

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Research Methodology

The BackgroundChecks.org Research team identified a number of core issues that impact bullying and bullying behavior:

  1. Bullying Occurrence Score – 50% of Total Score
  2. School Violence Score – 25% of Total Score
  3. Bullying Impact Score – 20% of Total Score
  4. State Bullying Laws – 5% of Total Score

Each of these primary metrics are made up of a number of different measurements. The higher the score, the worse Bullying issues faced in the state:

Bullying Occurrence Measurements

Physical Bullying Incident Rate: This measures amounts of physical bullying that students indicated had happened to them, while on school property.

Electronic (Cyber) Bullying Rate: How often were students cyber-bullied.

School Violence Measurements

Weapon Injury Rate: Rate of Injuries received from a weapon while at school.

School Fight Rate: Rate of involvement in fights at school.

Injury from Fight Rate: Rate of injury from those fights.

Fight on School Property Rate: Rate of fights at school.

Skipped School for Safety Rate: Rate of skipping school because they felt unsafe either at school or on the way there.

Bullying Impact Measurement

Sad or Hopeless Rate: How sad or hopeless students indicated they felt.

Suicide Planning, Attempts Rate: This is a combined measure of suicide attempts, thoughts of suicide, and suicide planning.

State Bullying Measurement

Does the State have laws for violence and bullying at school?

Do the State Laws Specifically address bullying or are they part of a broader framework?

Are Policies in place for bullying in public and private schools?

 

Sources Used for Research

  • Center for Disease Control, Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System
  • National Center for Education Statistics
  • National Education Association
  • Stop Bullying.Gov
  • National Education Association
  • The Cyberbullying Research Center

For Further Reading and Research

StopBullying.Gov

National Center for Education Statistics Fast Facts on Bullying

Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System at the CDC

Bullying Laws and Analysis

 

1

45 Safest Colleges in Ohio for 2016

Ohio

The state of Ohio is located in the Midwestern United States. Border states include Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. The state is home to the Ohio River, and extensive natural landscapes made up of lakes, rivers, swamps, forests, and hilly terrain. Major metropolises are also located in the state, including Columbus, Cleveland, and Cincinnati. It’s estimated that more than 11.6 million people currently reside in the state of Ohio. Ohio industry prides itself on a green economy. Most businesses are related to the production of rubber, plastics, metals, and electrical equipment. The state is home to many top performing institutions of higher education, as well as some of the best public libraries in the country.

For the sake of this list, a “college” is considered any accredited public or private not-for-profit institution that offers four-year degree programs. Campus crime stats, graduation rates, and student retention rates were taken from U.S. Department of Education annual reports. Campus crime rates are based on the number of crimes per 1,000 residents.

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#1 Cincinnati Christian University

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The private Christian school of Cincinnati Christian University is situated in Cincinnati, Ohio. Campus is made up of facilities such as the George Mark Elliott Library, The Eagle’s Nest (Student Center), Hill Top Coffee Shop, the Worship and Ministry building, and residence halls. Most common areas of study include Communication Arts, Youth Ministry, Early Childhood Education, Urban & Intercultural Ministry, and Biblical Studies. The school is accredited by several organizations, including the Association of Theological Schools. Student athletes can participate in Division I sports belonging to the National Christian College Athletic Association.

#2 Union Institute & University

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Union University is a research institution situated in Cincinnati, Ohio. Students at the school can pursue degrees at the BA, MA, and PhD level. Academic programs are available to on-campus as well as off-campus students. The school is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.  Additional campuses are located in Vermont, California, and Florida.

#3 Ohio State University – Lima

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Ohio State University-Lima is set in Lima, Ohio and is more simply referred to as Ohio State Lima. A total of approximately 1,400 students attend the Lima campus, in addition to close to 60,000 students across the Ohio State University system. Students can choose from over 140 courses within 9 specific bachelor programs. Besides academics, students can also become involved in extracurriculars such as atheltics and over 20 other student organizations.

#4 Miami University – Hamilton

Hamilton, Ohio is home to Miami University Hamilton. Approximately 3,600 students attend the school each year. Students can pursue bachelor’s and associate degrees as well as a certificate program at the school. Miami University Hamilton is part of the larger Miami University system, with campuses in Oxford, West Chester, and Middletown, Ohio, as well as in Luxembourg. The university is a non-residential campus, although students can become involved in athletics such as softball, basketball, golf, and volleyball.

#5 Cleveland Institute of Art

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The Cleveland Institute of Art in University Circle, Cleveland is among the oldest art and design colleges in the country. Approximately 570 students attend the school each year. Common areas of study include animation, printmaking, jewelry + metals, game design, illustration, and painting among many others. In addition to the bachelor of fine arts program, continuing education, summer workshops, and pre-college programs are also available to students.

#6 Mount Vernon Nazarene University

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The private liberal arts college of Mount Vernon Nazarene University is set in Mount Vernon, Ohio. More than 2,200 undergraduates and graduate students attend the school each year. Bachelor’s as well as Master’s programs are available to students. In addition to main campus at Mount Vernon, satellite campuses are located in Albany, Newark, and Mansfield as well. Students can become involved in such extracurricular activities as student government, mission trips, intramural sports, as well as NAIA athletics including basketball, baseball, cross country, golf, and soccer.

#7 University of Findlay

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Findlay, Ohio is home to the University of Findlay, a private university of about 3,700 undergraduate and graduate students. Undergraduate students can choose from more than 65 academic concentrations. UF specializes in unique programs such as pre-veterinary medicine, nuclear medicine technology, and equestrian studies. Campus spans 73 acres, including its extensive nature preserve and farmland which hosts facilities such as the James L. Child Jr. Equestrian Complex and Animal Sciences Center. In addition to academics, students can participate in over 100 student clubs and organizations.

#8 Malone University

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Malone University welcomes approximately 2,600 students annually to its Canton, Ohio campus. The school has maintained historically established religious affiliations, such as with the Religious Society of Friends and the Evangelical Friends Church International. Nevertheless, the student body is representative of almost 50 different religious sects. Students can study within the School of Nursing and Health Sciences, the School of Business and Leadership, the School of Education and Human Development, and the College of Theology, Arts and Sciences. Student organizations include Multicultural Student Union, Student Senate, and Forensics.

#9 Marietta College

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The liberal arts school of Marietta College is situated in Marietta, Ohio. The total student body is comprised of approximately 1,200 students pursuing degrees in over 45 concentrations. Marietta College is dedicated to providing students with a liberal arts education, but also focuses on such core values as a global perspective, leadership, and community service. High achieving students are rewarded with such honors as the Dean’s List, Freshman and Sophomore Scholars, and Degrees with Distinction. Student athletes can participate in a total of 18 varsity sports.

#10 Lourdes University

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Sylvania, Ohio is home to Lourdes University, a Roman Catholic University that spans 127 acres. Postgraduates and undergraduates makes up a total of more than 1,500 students. Academics are based on a liberal arts curriculum as well as professional programs. Master academics include programs such as business and leadership, human services, and nursing. Besides academic pursuits, students are ingrained with core values based on service, community, reverence, and learning.

#11 Ohio Christian University

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The private institution of Ohio Christian University is located in Circleville, Ohio. Each year, about 3,300 student attend the school to pursue degrees as Bachelor of Arts, Associate of Arts and Masters of Arts. In recent years, OCU has expanded its student center and science and logistic center. Students can join activities outside the classroom, such as athletic and student worship groups.

#12 John Carroll University

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Jesuit Catholic institution, John Carroll University, is a private liberal arts school located in University Heights, Ohio. Approximately 3,000 undergraduate and 700 graduate students attend the university each year. Common undergradutes studies include business, science, and arts. All students must complete coursework in philosophy, religious studies, social justice, global studies, and a foreign language inline with Jesuit teachings of educating the individual as a whole. Students are also encouraged to participate in international programs in places such as England and Japan.

#13 Walsh University

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Located in North Canton, Ohio, Walsh University is a four-year institution with Roman Catholic affiliation. Approximately 3,000 undergraduates and graduates attend the school each year. Students choose from over 50 academic majors with an emphasis on liberal arts. Walsh University also specializes in a physical therapy program, among other rigorous graduate programs. In addition to academic pursuits at the main campus, students can attend classes at satellite campuses within Ohio, an international campuses including Castel Gandolfo in Italy.

#14 Bluffton University

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Bluffton University is a Christian institution that focuses on a liberal arts education. Over 1,000 students attend the school each year. Degrees include bachelor of arts, bachelor of science, master of arts in education, master of business administration, and master of arts in organizational management. In addition to academic achievement, Bluffton places an emphasis on social engagement and civic responsibility. Students can become active in atheltics, student media, student government, as well as performance groups and spiritual organizations.

#15 Mount St. Joseph University

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The private school of Mount St.Joseph University is situated on a suburban campus of 92 acres. Over 2,300 students attend the Catholic, co-educational school including undergraduates and graduates. Popular graduate programs include education, business administration, religious studies, nursing, and physical therapy. In addition to academics, students can become involved in the student newspaper as well as other extracurriculars.

#16 Lake Erie College

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The liberal arts school of Lake Erie College is set in Painesville, Ohio. Each year, about 1,250 students attend the college. As early as 1954, and as the first to do so, Lake Erie College has encouraged students to continue their studies abroad. Lake Erie is well-known as a top school for equestrian studies. In addition to academics, students can become involved in NCAA Division II athletics.

#17 Miami University – Middletown

Miami University Middletown offers programs within bachelor’s and associate degrees as well as certificate programs. A total of about 3,000 students attend the school, as undergraduates and graduates. Campus spans a heavily forested area, and is considered the oldest regional campus in the Miami University system. Sports teams at the university function within the Ohio Regional Campus Conference

#18 Otterbein University

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Westerville, Ohio is home to Otterbein University, a liberal arts college. A total of nearly 3,000 students pursue studies in over 74 majors and 44 minors, as well as 8 graduate programs. Popular programs include education, music, engineering, and business management. In addition to academics, students participates in more than 100 student organizations including Greek Life and Ohio Athletic Conference athletics.

#19 Ohio Northern University

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Ohio Northern University in Ada, Ohio hosts more than 3,700 students each year. ONU is comprised of five colleges, including the Claude W.Pettit College of Law. In addition to traditional academic programs, coursework is also available in a distant learning setting. Campus includes facilities like the Music Department building, Robertson-Evans Pharmacy building, and the Dial-Roberson Stadium. Students athletes can participate in NCAA sports, including baseball, basketball, cross country, soccer, and track & field.

#20 Ashland University

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Spanning 135-acres, Ashland University is situated in Ashland, Ohio in addition to satellite campuses in north and central portions of the state. A total of approximately 5,700 students attend the university. Undergraduates alone can choose from about 70 majors. Popular areas of academic studies include environmental science, entrepreneurship, and actuarial science. Students can also pursue a range of education-related majors, incluign pre-K through doctorate related material. Ashland equips students with core values based on global citizenship and service, in addition to academic pursuits.

#21 Case Western Reserve University

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Case Western Reserve University of Cleveland, Ohio welcomes 4,600 undergraduates and 5,600 graduates each year. Students hail from all 50 states and over 100 other countries. Popular academic programs include biology, social work, nursing, biomedical engineering, mechanical engineering, and psychology. Many alumni have gone on to work for notable software development companies and also include the lead developer and creator of Gmail. Prototypes for such inventions as cronoary artery disease surgery treatment, CPR defibrillation, blood transfusion, and polymers were all first developed at Case Western Reserve University.

#22 Cleveland State University

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Cleveland State University, or CSU, is located in Cleveland, Ohio. Students total over 17,500 and pursue studies in the arts, sciences, and humanities, as well as research and creative endeavors. The school offers 70 majors in additions to 27 master’s programs and 6 doctoral degrees. CSU is known for its partnership with the NASA Glenn Research Center. In recent years, CSU has expanded on campus facilities, particularly in the technology and theater departments. Students are encouraged to get involved via student media and athletics.

#23 Baldwin Wallace University

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Berea, Ohio hosts the liberal arts college known at Baldwin Wallace University. Over 4,000 students attend the coeducational school as undergraduate and graduate students. Common academic programs at the school include neuroscience, business, education, and music. In particular, the institution is well-regarded for the Baldwin Wallace Conservatory of Music, which hosts a Bach Festival each year. Students athletes can participate in NCAA sports held at top-notch athletic facilities on campus.

#24 Xavier University

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The Jesuit Catholic school of Xavier University is situated in Norwood, Ohio, just outside Cincinnati. Each year, about 6,650 students attend the university as undergraduates and graduates. Academics are focused on the liberal arts, but as a Jesuit institution, there is also a strong emphasis on education of the whole individual. Highlights on campus include the Gallagher Student Center and the Bellarmine Chapel in addition to the Cintas Center, which hosts many athletic events. A total of 81 majors are offered at Xavier, including theology, history, literature, social sciences, and mathematics.

#25 Kent State University

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More than 30,00o students attend Kent State University of Kent, Ohio as undergraduates and graduates. Since 1910, Kent State has built a name for itself especially in the field of education. Today, over 300 programs are offered to students at the undergraduates, graduate, and doctoral level. Doctorate academics focus on programs such as library science, history, journalism, fashion design, nursing, and business. Campus covers nearly 870 acres and encompasses over 100 buildings as well as natural reserve areas. Kent hosts a number of satellite campuses as well including Ashtabula, East Liverpool, Salem, and Stark. Students can become involved in extracurricular activities such as Greek Life , performing arts, and student media. Athletes at the school participate in NCAA Division I athletics.

#26  University of Cincinnati

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The University of Cincinnati, or UC, enrolls more than 40,000 students each year at the undergraduate and graduate level. It’s considered among the 50 biggest universities in the country. UC, also a public research institution, has consistently ranked high for its academic programs on a national and international scale. UC also ranks high in the number of CEO alumni of Fortune 500 companies. Students can choose from over 350 programs including associate, bachelor, professional, and doctorate programs including music and arts, science and engineering, medical and human services, and business programs. Students can participate in international studies, co-op abroad, and research opportunities in addition to athletics and over 550 other student organizations.

#27 Muskingum University

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New Concord, Ohio is home to Muskingum University. The Presbyterian affiliated institution welcomes about 2,600 undergraduates and graduates each year. Students choose from a total of 40 academic majors and several graduate programs. Campus spans 225 acres including a hilly landscape with over 20 residential, academic, and extracurricular buildings such as the Little Theater, Brown Chapel, Boyd Science Center, and the Neptune Center. Students can become involved in activities such as Greek Life and athletics.

#28 Youngstown State University

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Each year, approximately 15,000 students attend Youngstown State University as undergraduate and graduate students. While some students choose to live on campus, many others commute to classes every day from home or from off-campus housing. In addition to students hailing from around the country, the student body also represents international students from approximately 45 other countries. The school hosts a top notch planetarium, as well as academic and extracurricular facilities.

#29 Oberlin College

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Officially established in 1833, and originally as the Oberlin Collegiate Institute, the Oberlin College of today is considered one of the oldest coeducational institutions of higher learning in the world. The school of 2,900 students is especially regarded for its Conservatory of Music. Students pursue academic interests in over 50 majors and minors. Popular studies include biology, history, politics, and environmental studies. The Oberlin student body is well-known for its commitment to political engagement, LGBTQ activism, student leadership and creative expression through the arts.

#30 Ohio University

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The public research institution, Ohio University, is set on 1,850 acres near Athens, Ohio. A total of approximately 38,000 students attend the university each year at the undergraduate and graduate level. Besides the main campus, additional campuses are located in Lancaster, Dublin, and Pickerington, Ohio to name a few. Students can choose from over 250 areas of concentration within the areas of business, arts and sciences, communication, engineering, fine arts, and technology. Students can join athletics, student media, and service organizations on campus as well.

#31 Urbana University

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The private liberal arts school known as Urbana University is set one hour from Columbus, Ohio in the city of Urbana. Over 1,500 students attend the institution each year. Undergraduate students are offered 28 major concentrations, while common graduate programs such as business administration and education are also offered. Students have many opportunities to become active on campus, including pep band, student government, history clubs, and NCAA Division II sports.

#32 Miami University

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The University of Miami, also referred to as the U of M or The U, welcomes nearly 17,000 students each year as undergraduates and graduates. U of M is home to a law school, as well as research facilities and academic buildings built around atmospheric sciences and oceanography (Rosentiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science). Students can choose from 116 bachelor’s programs, 105 master’s programs, and 63 doctoral degrees. In addition to all 50 of the United States, students also hail from more than 150 countries. The school is dedicated to sustainability on campus. Students can get involved not only in NCAA Division I athletics, but also in Greek Life, the student yearbook, the student newspaper, and several honor societies.

#33 University of Rio Grande

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Rio Grande, Ohio is home to the University of Rio Grande, former Rio Grande College. Approximately 2,300 students come to the university each year to pursue such programs as education, fine arts, and nursing. Special facilities like the Greer Museum encourage students to experience art and culture outside the classroom. Rio Grande University is home to a Sculpture Garden as well as the Grande Chorale jazz group. Student athletes can participate in NAIA sports, including men’s soccer, baseball, and basketball, and women’s cross country, softball, and track & field.

#34 University of Dayton 

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A Roman Catholic school, the University of Dayton is a coeducational institution as well as research facility. Approximately 11,000 students attend the university as undergraduates and graduates. Students hail from across the country and around the world, including representation of 40 nations. Students choose from over 80 academic concentrations, including education, health sciences, arts, and engineering, as well as the first program in human rights in the country. Students can become involved in a myriad of activities on the historic campus including ministry, volunteering, and athletics, and are also encouraged to further their education abroad.

#35 Shawnee State University

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Situated in southern Ohio, Shawnee State University is a public school open to both undergraduate and graduate students. In total, about 4,600 students attend Shawnee each year. Students choose from over 80 bachelor’s, associate degrees, and master’s degree programs. Just some of many degrees offered include English and Humanities, psychology, education, computer programming, health management, photography, graphic design, plastics engineering technology, physical therapy, and simulation and gaming engineering technology. In addition to life on campus, students are encouraged to spend time abroad, including programs in Britain, Spain, Greece, and Ireland.

#36 Bowling Green State University

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Over 17,500 students attend Bowling Green State University in Toledo, Ohio each year. The research university offers 200 undergraduate programs in addition to master’s and doctoral pursuits as well. Common research studies executed on campus include sociology, human development, energy, and sustainability. A satellite campus is located in Huron, Ohio (BGSU Firelands). In addition to academics, students can choose from over 300 students organizations to become involved in. Athletes compete at the NCAA Division I level as a member of the Mid-American Conference and the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.

#37 University of Toledo

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The University of Toledo, or UT has three campuses, including its main campus in Toledo, and satellite campuses in Scott Park, West Toledo, downtown Toledo, and Maumee Bay State Park. Over 23,000 students attend the school each year. UT, since 2009, has committed to sustainability on its campuses by reducing food waster, recycling, and conserving water. Students can choose from more than 250 academic programs, within such colleges as the College of Communication, College of Engineering, College of Social Justice and Human Services, and the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. Students can become involved in athletics, research opportunities, study abroad, and service learning.

#38 University of Mount Union

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A private liberal arts school, the University of Mount Union is set in Alliance, Ohio. Each year, the school admits upwards of 2,200 students to its academic programs. The university has consistently ranked high as a leading liberal arts college of the Midwest. Students choose from over 60 majors and 53 minors of concentration. In addition, special areas of study are offered such as programs in pre-ministry, pre-law, and Army ROTC. Student athletes can participate in NCAA sports in a total of 11 men’s and 10 women’s sports. Students can also become involved on campus through Greek Life, theater, and music.

#39 University of Akron

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Public research institution, the University of Akron, is situated in Akron, Ohio. More than 26,000 students attend the school as undergraduates and graduates. Academically speaking, undergraduates can choose from over 200 majors, and graduates have over 100 options in academic programs. Students hail from all over the state, country, and 71 additional countries. The College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering and University of Akron School of Law have long been regarded for their rigorous academic programs. University of Akron also leads in science research, particularly in orthopedics and medicine.

#40 College of Wooster

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Each year, approximately 2,000 students attend the College of Wooster in Wooster Ohio, northeast of Columbus. From an early undergraduate level, students are encouraged to pursue research endeavors through a mentorship program. Degrees available include a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Music, and Bachelor of Music Education. Students are encourage to gain a global perspective through study abroad programs in over 60 countries, in addition to majors such as International Relations and Cultural Area Studies. Students can also become active in the performing arts, student-run media, and athletics.

#41 Defiance College

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Liberal arts college, Defiance College, admits approximately 1,000 students each year. The school places a particular emphasis on social engagement in addition to academic excellence. Undergraduates can choose from over 40 majors, whereas graduates choose between a focus in either education or business. Popular programs include forensic science, nursing, and international studies. Defiance athletes participate in over 15 sports teams belonging to the NCAA and Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference.

#42 Notre Dame College

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The liberal arts school of Notre Dame College is set in South Euclid, Ohio. About 2,250 students attend the school annually. The 48-acre academic campus offers students a choice of more than 30 majors. Students hail from all over the United States, as well as 19 foreign countries. Academic programs are broken down into art & humanities, business administration, education, nursing, science & mathematics. Other than academics, students can also become involved in honor societies and athletics.

#43 Wright State University

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Situated in Fairborn, near Dayton Ohio, Wright State University is a public research institution open to men and women. Over 18,000 students attend the school each year. Much of present-day campus sits on portions of the former Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. A second satellite campus, spanning 173 acres, is located in Celina, Ohio, on the edge of Grande Lake St. Mary’s. Students can study within colleges such as Nursing and Health, Education and Human Services, Liberal Arts, and Science and Mathematics. Outside the classroom, students can become involved in Greek Life, ROTC, and athletics at the NCAA Division I level.

#44 Wittenberg University

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Springfield, Ohio hosts Wittenberg University, a four-year, liberal arts school. Each year, approximately 2,000 students attend the school as undergraduates and graduates. Students choose from over 70 majors and special concentrations. Wittenberg University has consistently high as a top liberal arts college in the nation. Students are encouraged to become involved in their local community, as well as international affairs. The East Asian Institute for International Studies at Wittenberg University provides students with a study abroad opportunity that also promotes service learning. Extracurricular include Gay-Straight Alliance, student-run media, Pep band, Union Board, among many others.

#45 Ohio Wesleyan University

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Delaware, Ohio is home to Ohio Wesleyan University, a private liberal arts school. Nearly 1,650 students attend the school each year. Students hail from all over the United States, and in addition, Ohio Wesleyan has among the most international students at a liberal arts school in the country. Students pursue degrees as a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts, or Bachelor of Music. Nearly 90 majors are offered by the university. Both historically and up until the present day, Ohio Wesleyan places a strong emphasis on international learning and cultural immersion, with notable programs in Salamanca, Spain and Tanzania, Africa.

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