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Cory Jewell Jensen

Renee speaks with Cory Jewell Jensen, M.S., who directs the Center for Behavioral Intervention in Beaverton, Ore. She has spent nearly 30 years working with and interviewing sex offenders. Jensen is using those candid conversations with child molesters to train law enforcement, child abuse prevention groups, and others.
Season 12 Episode 15 Length 28:02 Premiere: 01/13/17

Educating Parents to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse

Protecting children from sex offenders is often viewed as the job of criminal justice officials who employ tactics like tough jail sentences, perpetrator registries, electronic surveillance, and background checks.

But those strategies alone may not be effective at keeping kids safe, says Cory Jewell Jensen, a national expert on preventing child sexual abuse. She suggests a simpler approach: Educate parents on how they can help keep their children from being molested in the first place.

Jensen is co-director of the Center for Behavioral Intervention in Beaverton, Ore., where she’s spent three decades interviewing sex offenders to learn why they target children and how they entice them into a cycle of abuse. She is sharing her research with law enforcement officials, social workers, prosecutors, teachers and parents across Kentucky through workshops entitled “Protecting Your Children: Advice from Child Molesters.” She appeared on KET’s Connections to discuss the pervasive nature of child sexual abuse and why it’s so difficult to catch offenders.

Since the early 2000s, there’s been a steady increase in reported incidents of child abuse, especially sexual abuse, according to Jensen. Where researchers once thought that 20 percent of girls and 10 percent of boys experienced some sort of sexual abuse before their 18th birthdays, Jensen says the rates may actually be closer to 30 percent for girls and 17 percent for boys.

Even more troubling is how few offenders are caught and prosecuted for their behaviors. Jensen says convicted offenders taking polygraph tests admit to having committed as many as 200 sex crimes before they were ever arrested.

“Most offenders are pretty skilled and do a very good job of not only targeting very vulnerable families but picking vulnerable kids,” Jensen says, “and keeping people from reporting them.”

In fact, about half of abusers say someone in their lives was aware of their offenses but never reported them. Jensen says that means half of offenders could have been caught and stopped had that person contacted police or social service personnel.

And it’s not just men who are perpetrators. Jensen says about 20 percent of sex offenders are female – but she adds that very few of them are ever convicted because many people still don’t believe that women commit crimes of a sexual nature.

The Origins of a Sex Crime Perpetrator
Jensen says it’s a myth that most adult offenders were molested as children (only about a quarter were) and that many victims go on to be perpetrators themselves (only about 5 to 10 percent do, she says).

Her interviews indicate that patterns of sexual deviance can begin at an early age. Most children “play doctor” or engage in some form of show and tell to learn about their bodily differences. Jensen says those experiments are a brief and normal part of youthful curiosity. But she says sex offenders often get stuck in that phase and find those experiences to be intense and arousing. They become locked into those behaviors and find ways to trick other kids into doing them. Jensen says they are teaching themselves to use play to initiate sexual contact and to view other children as sexual objects. Once that pattern is established, Jensen says it will follow the offender into adulthood.

Another trigger may be pornography. Thanks to the internet and portable electronic devices, Jensen says it’s much easier for children to view all manner of pornographic images. Where kids may have first seen porn in their early teenage years, Jensen says now they’re more likely to view it as early as age 9.

“We do think early exposure to pornography is toxic to children,” Jensen says. “[It] could contribute to children developing sexual behavior problems and maybe start out on a path where they’re going to end up becoming an offender.”

That easy access to porn may be one reason why child sex crimes have escalated over the past decade, says Jensen.

A Slow, Calculated Manipulation
Jensen describes child sexual abuse as a “crime of relationships.” The vast majority of offenders are already well known to the children they abuse through some kind of supervisory or caretaking role at home, school, church, social club, or athletics team. The offender may actually be someone the child admires or trusts.

“Offenders say it’s just a subtle, very calculated, very slow process, and so very often kids don’t even know they’re being abused until it’s happened 20 or 30 times,” says Jensen.

Offenders develop highly sophisticated skills to read people and manipulate them in ways that children simply cannot defend against, according to Jensen. She says that includes expending enormous energy to keep their victims quiet and to prevent other people from reporting them.

That system of deceit includes manipulating adults. Jensen recounts how a man camouflaged his abuse of his stepdaughter by confiding to the girl’s mother that she was telling him false stories of sexual abuse. In doing so, the man sowed seeds of doubt in the mother’s mind should the daughter ever reveal what her stepfather was doing to her. In another incident, Jensen says an offender who worked in education would use his job interviews to discern how savvy school administrators were about sex abuse issues.

Education and Calm Conversation
Given the stealthy nature in which child sex offenders operate, Jensen says the traditional approaches to prevention simply aren’t adequate.

“Background checks for the most part are worthless,” Jensen says.  “Most offenders that we catch have never been reported, let alone convicted, of a sexual crime before.”

More extensive screening may be helpful, but Jensen goes on to say that housing restrictions, offender registration laws, and electronic surveillance strategies also have produced lackluster results. That’s why she advocates more money for education programs to help parents, teachers, and other adults recognize the signs of sexual abuse. She praises Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear and the independent nonprofit organization Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky for helping to implement her training program “Protecting Your Children: Advice from Child Molesters.” She says the commonwealth is the second state in the nation to conduct that training on a statewide basis.

If a parent catches their child engaging in some form of sex play, Jensen encourages them to react calmly rather than getting angry or doling out a punishment. She suggests asking the child what they’re doing, how often they’ve done it, and who else has been involved as a way to learn if the behavior is normative or not. They can also use that discussion to convey an important message.

“Parents [should] tell kids it’s not okay for anybody to look at or touch your private parts, it’s also not okay for you to look at and touch others people’s private parts, and it’s not okay for you to look at pictures of people without clothes on,” Jensen advises.

By having those conversations, Jensen says parents can communicate to their children that it’s normal to talk about sex. She says kids who grow up thinking that sex is a taboo subject never to be discussed are more prone to being victims of abuse.

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Season 12 Episodes

Kinship Care Activist Katie Okumu

S12 E46 Length 26:27 Premiere Date 08/25/17

Photographer Carol Peachee

S12 E45 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 08/18/17

Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative

S12 E44 Length 28:28 Premiere Date 08/11/17

Sec. Vickie Yates Brown Glisson

S12 E43 Length 29:17 Premiere Date 08/04/17

Criminal Justice Reform

S12 E42 Length 28:08 Premiere Date 07/28/17

Kayla Rae Whitaker

S12 E41 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 07/14/17

Uncovering Bias in Preschool Education

S12 E40 Length 29:01 Premiere Date 07/07/17

The Latest Data on Kentucky's Kids

S12 E39 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 06/30/17

Building Leadership Skills

S12 E38 Length 29:01 Premiere Date 06/23/17

The Ali Center's Donald Lassere

S12 E37 Length 28:46 Premiere Date 06/16/17

Improving Nutrition in the Daily Diet

S12 E36 Length 27:06 Premiere Date 06/09/17

Alzheimer's Disease

S12 E35 Length 28:19 Premiere Date 06/02/17

Innovation at the Alltech Conference

S12 E34 Length 28:33 Premiere Date 05/26/17

Political Journalist Cokie Roberts

S12 E33 Length 28:06 Premiere Date 05/22/17

2017 Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit

S12 E32 Length 28:03 Premiere Date 05/12/17

Alison Lundergan Grimes

S12 E31 Length 28:37 Premiere Date 05/09/17

Sexual Trauma in the Military

S12 E30 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 05/02/17

Foster Care

S12 E29 Length 28:46 Premiere Date 04/24/17

Justice Secretary John Tilley

S12 E23 Length 29:36 Premiere Date 04/14/17

Job Training in Kentucky

S12 E22 Length 29:31 Premiere Date 03/24/17

Kentucky Tourism

S12 E21 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 02/24/17

Reducing Youth Violence

S12 E20 Length 28:21 Premiere Date 02/17/17

State Treasurer Allison Ball

S12 E19 Length 28:51 Premiere Date 02/10/17

Poverty in America

S12 E18 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 02/03/17

Homelessness in Kentucky

S12 E17 Length 28:46 Premiere Date 01/27/17

Sadiqa Reynolds

S12 E16 Length 28:06 Premiere Date 01/20/17

Cory Jewell Jensen

S12 E15 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 01/13/17

Bill Goodman

S12 E14 Length 28:37 Premiere Date 01/06/17

Promoting Health Equity

S12 E13 Length 29:01 Premiere Date 12/16/16

Kentucky's Teacher of the Year

S12 E12 Length 27:22 Premiere Date 12/09/16

Important Issues for Seniors

S12 E11 Length 28:20 Premiere Date 11/18/16

Nonprofit Organizations

S12 E10 Length 28:22 Premiere Date 11/11/16

Iris Wilbur and Colmon Elridge

S12 E9 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 11/04/16

Alzheimer's Disease

S12 E8 Length 28:32 Premiere Date 10/28/16

Activism Through Music and Art

S12 E7 Length 28:31 Premiere Date 10/21/16

Paducah's Merryman House

S12 E6 Length 28:07 Premiere Date 10/14/16

The Achievement Gap

S12 E5 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 10/07/16

Discussing Domestic Violence

S12 E4 Length 28:32 Premiere Date 09/30/16

Musician Jon Secada

S12 E3 Length 29:13 Premiere Date 09/23/16

Playwright Mitzi Sinnott

S12 E2 Length 27:12 Premiere Date 09/15/16

FDA Chief Dr. Robert Califf

S12 E1 Length 26:26 Premiere Date 09/09/16

Smoking Cessation and Pregnancy

Preview Length 29:32 Premiere Date 09/08/17

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Premiered On: 06/23/2017

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Premiered On: 08/04/2017

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Jeff Hawkins and Robert Brown

Premiered On: 08/11/2017

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Carol Peachee

Premiered On: 08/18/2017

Photographer Carol Peachee discusses her books, including "The Birth of Bourbon: A Photographic Tour of Early Distilleries" that captures lost distilleries and those undergoing renewal. Peachee is also a pioneer in the integrative health field with decades of clinical experience in counseling, mindfulness practices, and internal arts. She is the founder of the Center for Mindful Living Practices.

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Sam Quinones

Premiered On: 09/01/2017

Renee speaks with journalist Sam Quinones, author of Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic and other books. A reporter for almost 30 years, Quinones lived and worked as a freelance writer in Mexico and is a former reporter for the LA Times.

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Kristin Ashford - Smoking Cessation and Pregnancy

Premiered On: 09/08/2017

Renee speaks with Kristin Ashford, Ph.D., a professor in the University of Kentucky College of Nursing whose research focuses on prenatal care and interventions aimed at preventing/ending tobacco use and illicit drugs. The program features a young woman who's participating in "Get Fit and Quit" recovery/smoking cessation program that is a partnership between the UK College of Nursing, Chrysalis House (a treatment center for women), and the YMCA. Part of KET's on-going initiative "Smoking and Health" funded in part by a grant from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.

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U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao

Premiered On: 09/22/2017

Renee sits down with U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao for a wide-ranging, one-on-one interview. Filmed at the McConnell Center at the University of Louisville, Chao discusses the U.S. Department of Transportation's involvement in emergency response and rebuilding efforts following Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, plans to address the nation's transportation infrastructure, and other issues.

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Steve Beshear

Premiered On: 09/29/2017

Former Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear discusses his new book, "People Over Politics", that covers the tests and triumphs of his administration from 2007-2015. He talks about embracing the Affordable Care Act and expanding Medicaid in Kentucky, his philosophical evolution on same-sex marriage, his unsuccessful struggle with advancing expanded gambling, the persistent plight of funding public employee pensions, among other issues.

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Gordon Hamlin

Premiered On: 10/13/2017

Renee's guest Gordon Hamlin, president of Pro Bono Public Pensions and a retired attorney, offers ideas about how to fix Kentucky's ailing public pension systems. Hamlin recommends that Kentucky transition to a shared risk pension plan: longer working careers, elimination of cost of living adjustments, and transition to career average formula.

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Youth Mental Health and Suicide Prevention

Premiered On: 10/20/2017

Renee Shaw discusses youth suicide prevention with Julie Cerel, a professor, licensed clinical psychologist, and president of the American Association of Suicidology. She also talks with Courtney Parr, who shares her powerful and inspiring journey to better mental health.

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Health Issues - Sen. Julie Raque Adams and Rep. Addia Wuchner

Premiered On: 11/03/2017

State Sen. Julie Raque Adams and State Rep. Addia Wuchner, chairs of the Senate Health and Welfare and House Health and Family Services committees, respectively, discuss upcoming health care issues that will be addressed during the 2018 Kentucky General Assembly.

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Melynda Jamison - CASA of Lexington

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Good Samaritans - Surgery on Sunday; Bluegrass Families First and One Parent Scholar House

Premiered On: 11/17/2017

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Sexual Harassment Issues - Consultant Rus Funk

Premiered On: 12/15/2017

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Silas House

Premiered On: 01/12/2018

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DV8 Kitchen

Premiered On: 01/19/2018

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Gerald Smith

Premiered On: 02/09/2018

Dr. Gerald Smith, a history professor at the University of Kentucky and co-editor of "The Kentucky African American Encyclopedia", joins Renee to discuss race relations in honor of Black History Month. Topics include activism around removing Confederate statues, the status of black leadership in Kentucky, and Dr. Smith's thoughts on the needed response from the faith-based community in eradicating racism.

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Bob Jackson - Murray State University

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Educational Innovation

Premiered On: 02/16/2018

Educational innovation in the mountains is leading to a teaching and learning renaissance in southeast Kentucky. Renee and her guests, Dr. Dessie Bowling, associate director of the Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative and Rose Shields, rural project manager for the Center for Excellence in Rural Health at the University of Kentucky, discuss recent innovative education practices in the region.

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Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Premiered On: 04/06/2018

"Connections" remembers Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the 50th anniversary of his assassination. Renee speaks with organizers of a commemorative event in Frankfort and shares highlights from speeches at the MLK Memorial March to Move.

  • Tuesday January 3, 2023 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Child Marriage Laws in Kentucky - Donna Pollard

Premiered On: 04/13/2018

Renee speaks with Donna Pollard, a child marriage survivor and founder of Survivors' Corner, who has become the ambassador for changing child marriage laws in Kentucky with the passage of Senate Bill 48 that was signed into law by Gov. Matt Bevin on March 29, 2018. SB 48 raises the legal age to marry to 18 in Kentucky with some exceptions.

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Kosair Charities Face It Movement; Terry Brooks

Premiered On: 04/20/2018

In part one, Renee speaks with Keith Inman with Kosair Charities and Dr. Jennifer Green, University of Louisville Child Abuse Pediatrics Fellow about Kosair Charities Face It Movement that provides resources for parents and caregivers on child abuse. In part two, Dr. Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates, talks about legislation passed in the 2018 Kentucky General Assembly that benefits children and families.

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Dr. Donna Grigsby

Premiered On: 05/11/2018

Renee speaks with Lexington pediatrician Dr. Donna Grigsby about early childhood brain development and the impact of adverse childhood experiences on cognitive and physical health. Dr. Grigsby discusses how to develop literacy skills in young children.

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Connections

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Leadership - Marian Guinn and Lisa Williams; Colene Elridge - S12 E38

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Patricia Peacock - S12 E30

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Cory Jewell Jensen - S12 E18

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Restaurateur and Chef Ouita Michel - S16 E31

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David Thompson - S12 E11

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FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf - S12 E2

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Phil Wilkins - S11 E43

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Tameka Montgomery - S11 E42

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Dayna Seelig - S15 E12

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Dominique Wilkins - S11 E41

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UK President Eli Capilouto - S18 E6

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Gary Tuggle - S11 E40

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Dr. Leana Wen - S11 E39

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Terrence Walton - S11 E38

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U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack - S11 E37

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Author Emily Bingham - S18 E11

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Kimberly Johnson - S11 E36

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Jason Merrick - S11 E35

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Fayette County Veterans Treatment Court - S11 E34

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Dr. Lynne Saddler - S11 E33

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Scott Hesseltine - S11 E32

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Bill Goodman - Kentucky Humanities - S18 E10

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Jessie Laine Powell - S11 E31

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Oral Health Care In Kentucky - S11 E30

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Kishonna Gray - S11 E29

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Gretchen Hunt - S11 E28

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Dr. Erin Frazier - S11 E27

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Restoring American Democracy - S18 E9

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Breast Cancer - S18 E8

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