Justice in Motion: Child predators — what you need to know

By Sarah Glorian

In 2014, the Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Office, in collaboration with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington, hosted an all-day Project Safe Childhood training about child predators. The keynote was Cory Jewell Jensen, M.S., who has worked with sex predators for nearly three decades. From various sources listed below, here are some things people should think about:

Child sex abuse is profoundly under-reported:

• Studies find only 5 percent to 13 percent child victims of sexual abuse report the abuse when it occurs.

• Only one in every five girls and one in every 10 boys report abuse.

• More than half of the offenders report other adults knew something was happening and did not report it to law enforcement.

• 12 to 18 cases are reported for every 100 incidents of child sex abuse, and only 3 percent to 6 percent result in convictions.

• As a result, delays in intervention increase the severity and escalation of the abuse.

Who are the offenders:

• The majority of offenders are people the child knows, e.g., family, friends, teachers, coaches, pastors, etc.—often people well-liked, respected and “vouched for” in their community—less than 5 percent are strangers.

• 36 percent of child molesters abuse both boys and girls.

• Offenders who abuse young children are three times more likely to abuse both boys and girls.

• 66 percent of incest offenders and 69 percent of intra‐familial offenders also victimized out-of-home victims.

MYTH: Most sex offenders were child victims of sexual abuse themselves.

• Pre-polygraph offenders self-reported they were sexually abused as a child: 61 percent

• Post-polygraph: only 30 percent

• E.g., only 11.6 percent of male childhood sex abuse victims were arrested for subsequent sexual offense.

MYTH: Offenders started committing sexual abuse as adults.

• Pre-polygraph offenders self-reported they started committing sexual abuse as a juvenile: 27 percent

• Post-polygraph: 76 percent offenders started committing sexual abuse as a juvenile

• 35 percent to 40 percent of all sexual crimes against children are committed by juveniles

• 40 percent of “acquaintance rapes” are committed by juveniles

• Adult offenders report the average age of their first criminal sex offense was at age 14.

Many sex offenders dramatically underreport the number of victims they have abused.

• Pre-polygraph: 2.9 victims

• Post-polygraph: 11.6 victims

Grooming:

FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit Offender Typology

• Identify potential target and gather information about needs and vulnerabilities of the victim.

• Establish a connection through relationship, activity, and/or organization, including alienating or ingratiating self to caretakers.

• Introduce sexualized talk, touch, play, nudity, porn, etc. and prevent disclosure, repeat victimization, encourage victim compliancy/collaboration.

• Offender supplies both emotional and tangible things to fill “void” in victim’s life/situation.

• Attention, recognition, affection, kindness, romance, intimidation, e.g., gifts, drugs/alcohol, privileges, relaxed rules, breaking down roles/boundaries usually between children/adults, student/teacher, coach/player, etc.

The Adults: Community members and the victim(s)’ caregiver(s) are also groomed by child predators.

• Boundaries are tested in front of adults and adults dismiss lesser concerns as inconsequential. The predator then continues to push boundaries and escalate predatory behavior. The child has now seen the adult has enabled or permitted the questionable behavior and not advocated for the protection of the child. As a result, this undermines the likelihood and sense of safety for the child to feel comfortable reporting future abuse.

• Predators ingratiate themselves in their community and gain the trust of adults through community, religious, sports activities, etc., often resulting in the adults minimizing “red flags” or publically vouching for the predators.

Recidivism:

• Treatment and risk assessments for sex offenders’ likelihood to reoffend are inadequate to predict or reduce recidivism.

• 20 percent of sex offenders are psychopaths who lack empathy, conscience or remorse.

The takeaway:

• We, as members of society, have an obligation to protect the safety and well-being for the children in our community.

• If you see it, report it.

• If you suspect something, don’t dismiss your intuition—seek more information.

• Err on the side of raising concerns to the appropriate authorities—this type of crime is covert and insidious—trust your instincts.

Other resources:

• http://courts.oregon.gov/OJD/docs/OSCA/cpsd/courtimprovement/jcip/2014EyesConf/Eyes2.BPSexOffendersPPT.pdf

• http://chfs.ky.gov/NR/rdonlyres/1609E5F9-6686-4E11-B7F7-225E5902A76C/0/WhatEveryAdvocateShouldKnow.pdf

And a reminder, October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month; to get help, contact:

• Domestic Violence Center of Grays Harbor County / (800) 818-2194 / (Facebook)

• Crisis Support Network in Pacific County / (800) 435-7276 / www.crisis-support.org

• Children’s Advocacy Center / (800) 959-1467 / (360) 249-0005 / http://www.ghcac.org/

• Beyond Survival / (360) 533-9751 / (888) 626-2640 / http://www.ghbeyondsurvival.com/

• Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence / www.wscadv.org

• Washington State Domestic Violence Hotline / (800) 562-6025

To find out if you are eligible for Northwest Justice Project services:

For cases including youth (Individualized Education Program and school discipline issues), driver license reinstatement for non-payment of court fines, debt collection cases, including medical debt, and tenant evictions, please call for a local intake appointment at (360) 533-2282 or toll free (866) 402-5293. No walk-ins, please.

For all other legal issues, please call our toll-free intake and referral hotline commonly known as “CLEAR” (Coordinated Legal Education Advice and Referral) at 1-888-201-1014, Mondays through Fridays 9:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. If you are a senior, 60 and over, please call 1-888-387-7111; you may be eligible regardless of income. Language interpreters are available. You can also complete an application for services at nwjustice.org/get-legal-help. Be sure to also check out our law library at: www.washingtonlawhelp.org.