Child molesters seduce victims and parents
Cory Jewell Jensen, co-director of the Center of Behavioral Intervention in Washington County, talks to workshop participants Friday about child molesters. Jensen is an expert in the field and has treated child molesters for 20 years.

Published Feb. 15, 2004

Expert says 'good touch, bad touch' doesn't work

By MARCIA McGONIGLE

The men that Cory Jewell Jensen meets come from all walks of life. There's a school district superintendent, a youth pastor, a judge and a college professor.

They've told her how they seduce their victims, the victims' parents and everyone around them.

They've shared how they get children to keep the abuse a secret and how, if the child does tell, they convince others that the child is mistaken or lying.

These men have helped Jensen, co-director of the Center for Behavioral Intervention in Washington County, understand how child molesters operate.

And now she wants to help parents understand how they can protect their children.

At a workshop Friday, Jensen spoke to about 120 community members involved with child advocacy. She hopes those involved with the conference will take the information into the community's churches and schools.

"Parents need to really pay attention," Jensen said. "There's a cultural norm on touching. Very few people wrestle and tickle other people's children.

"But that's the way child molesters seduce kids. Then they move to accidental touching, where they test the kids and then just start moving in on them. They are so used to (the molester) touching them, there are no boundaries."

And studies indicate that child abuse prevention programs such as "good touch, bad touch" do not work.

"I was showing a class of sex offenders a video 'good touch, bad touch' that is taught to children in the schools," Jensen recalled, "and they started giggling. I turned if off and told them this was serious stuff. They told me that it was the dumbest thing they'd ever seen and that every man in this room could get around that."

Their homework assignment was published as a brochure that tells readers who child molesters are, how they gain access to their victims and why the victims don't tell.

Results of a study published in 1995 by sociologist David Finkelton showed that children who went through prevention programs were no less likely to be abused or to tell than children who did not.

Ninety percent of child molesters are someone that the family and child likes.

"They premeditate and plan for this," Jensen said. "They will even set up conflict between the child and the parents, and offenders also set kids up so other people will think they lie about unrelated things."

Jensen has worked with child molesters for 20 years and has developed a program in conjunction with the Washington County Sheriff's Office called "Recognizing Child Molesters: A New Approach to Protecting Children."

On the front lines in that approach, she said, must be parents.

"We're expecting children to navigate a world of sex offenders, when we won't even let them pick out their own breakfast cereal," she said. "If anyone needs training, it's parents."

Some advice:

n Talk to your child, starting around age 3 or 4, about pedophiles.

Jensen suggests talking about it to your child like you talk about stealing or lying.

Also, she said, don't call it a sickness. Children tend to feel sorry for people who are sick. Tell your children that some people have a "touching problem" and they know it is wrong, just like lying and stealing and that they will try to stay out of trouble by getting you not to tell.

Talk about how molesters can make "secret touching" seem accidental. Children should be told to tell parents even if they think the touching was an accident, Jensen said.

"Have a talk about it like you're talking about helmet safety," Jensen said. "(The hope is that ) if kids are being molested, they will realize it is weird and tell themselves, 'When this is over, I'm going to go tell my mom.' "

The most common age of victims is between 7 and 9.

  • If you know someone has molested kids before, don't leave your kid alone with him or her, Jensen said. In 33 percent of cases she sees, family members knew the molester had molested before.

"It's black and white. They're going to do it again until it's reported and treated," she said. "There is no cure."

  • You need to know how abusers infiltrate families. Read. Go to workshops. Don't assume it won't happen to your children.
  • Monitor Internet use. From 1996 to 2000, there was a 1,264 percent increase in sex crimes because of the Internet.

"I'm seeing people in clinics who otherwise wouldn't have crossed the line," Jensen said. "The Internet will increase the number of people with sexual disorders, and we're seeing an increase in the number of kids acting out in inappropriate ways.

For more information on child sex abuse, contact the Klamath-Lake CARES program at Merle West Medical Center, 883-6289.

Facts about child molesters

  • The FBI estimates there is a child molester living in every square mile of the United States.
  • Boys and girls are at equal risk, and about 25 percent will be molested by their 18th birthdays.
  • Last year, the Klamath-Lake CARES program evaluated 140 children for potential child sexual abuse.
  • Child molesters statistically have a 3 percent chance of getting caught.
  • Twenty-five percent of child molesters molest both boys and girls.
  • Ninety percent are people are well liked by the child and his or her family. Many hold jobs or volunteer in settings where they have easy access to children. The groups includes coaches, teachers, youth leaders, ministers and priests, school bus drivers and day care providers.
  • On average, a molester will molest 120 times before being caught.
  • Seventy-six percent of adult child molesters began offending before they were 14.
  • Experts now believe that child molesters are attracted to children, in part, because of sexual play with other children that continued as they got older and because they were exposed to pornography at an early age.

"The more they do it, the more their brains are going to tell them that it's an acceptable behavior," said Cory Jewell Jensen, an expert in the field. "By the time they are 20, 45 years old, like any behavior, they find ways to justify it in their minds."

  • Only 25 percent to 30 percent of child molesters were molested as children.
  • Studies indicate that 25 percent of kids between the ages of 10 and 13 years of age are being exposed to pornography on the Internet.
  • Many of the children being molested do not show symptoms of abuse. Child molesters slowly seduce their victims so the children don't avoid them and instead feel protected by and bonded with them.
  • About 20 percent of abusers are psychopaths. To them molestation is a game, and they see what they can get away with.
  • Ninety-seven percent of sex offenders are released from prison to the town where they came from. There is a 90 percent chance they will reoffend.
  • Ten to 20 percent of child molesters are female.

- Source: Cory Jewell Jensen, co-director Center for Behavioral Intervention, Beaverton