December 3, 2020 FALL 2020

The Real Nature of Sexual Violence

Professor Elizabeth Jeglic, Ph.D., uses research and straight-forward approaches in her mission to advance the prevention of sexual violence.

By Mary Anderson

First there were the bombshell headlines. Roger Ailes. Harvey Weinstein. Jeffrey Epstein. In short order, beginning with the 2018 lawsuit against the late Fox chairman Ailes, high-profile cases of sexual harassment and violence came to dominate front pages and news feeds. And with each new exposé, the phone rang in the office of Elizabeth Jeglic, Ph.D., at John Jay College. “Several times a week, I was getting calls about the Me Too movement, and Weinstein and Epstein,” says Jeglic, a Professor of Psychology who readily became a sought-after expert thanks to a career devoted to sexual violence prevention.

In doing the interviews, she saw her goal as outreach—an opportunity to give factually-based information to the media about the real nature of sexual violence. “It’s not the stranger in the white van,” says Jeglic. “We know that 93 percent of kids are offended against by someone known to them.”

What makes the work—of short-circuiting sex offenders before they strike—particularly daunting is that they’re off the radar: 95 percent of sex crimes are committed by someone who is not on the sex offender registry or has no prior history. Jeglic came to the research as a doctoral student at Binghamton University through a government-run summer program in her native Canada. “I got matched with correctional services of Canada and the sex offender treatment program,” she recounts. “It was really a fortuitous moment because they were developing a national treatment program.” As a result, Jeglic was not only deeply involved in creating the program but also implementing and evaluating it. One of her clinical internship supervisors took notice of her expertise and suggested she apply for a faculty position at John Jay. In 2003, Jeglic joined John Jay as an Assistant Professor in the department of Psychology and has to date authored numerous papers and three books on sexual violence, trying to both solve for the five percent on the registry with best practices in treatment and for the 95 percent not on the registry with prevention.

With regard to the latter, she cites recent groundbreaking research, that came from John Jay’s Sex Offender Research Lab (SORL), which found that the majority of child sexual abuse happens during summers and after school, times when free or affordable childcare is difficult to obtain for underprivileged families. The study was authored by one of the many John Jay students that Jeglic, and other Psychology faculty members, helped mentor in clinical psychology. “We spend all this money on the sex offender registry, and if we just take some of that money and instead, have after-school programs and summer camps for kids from families who can’t afford it, we’d do so much more in terms of preventing sexual abuse.”

For her part, she’s hoping to help move the needle on public policy in this regard by contributing research to a project out of John Hopkins University that will make recommendations to Congress on legislation to help prevent sex crimes. In the meantime, Jeglic has lately pivoted to try to educate the public. Her recent book, Protecting your Child from Sexual Abuse, is meant for the everyday reader—moms like herself. That’s why she writes blog posts for Psychology Today. “I recently wrote about how to keep your kids safe online,” she says. And as for her three kids? “They joke that they are my guinea pigs.”

Contents

President’s Letter

“We’re living through challenging times.” I’ve found myself writing, saying, and contemplating those five words countless times this year.

Campus News

CUSP Takes Center Stage at 2020 Davos World Economic Forum

In the Media

“YOU’RE SEEING MORE PEOPLE OF COLOR, more working class folks starting to find their voice a little bit more. That’s...

Breaking the Cycle of Intımate-Partner Violence

In Kingston, New York, NNSC’s new approach has significantly reduced the deadliest forms of intimate-partner violence. By Michael Friedrich

Measuring the Impact of Reform

The Data Collaborative for Justice evaluates the success of New York City’s Criminal Justice Reform Act.

On the Front Line

Despite the hardships and health risks, John Jay students, alumni, faculty, and staff continue to keep our communities safe throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. By Andrea Dawn Clark

Educating Through the Crisis

How John Jay students, faculty, and staff successfully transitioned to a distance-learning model. by Mary Anderson

Charting New Territory

Olivia Orta, Ph.D. ’07 blazed a path for John Jay alumni, being the first John Jay grad to earn her doctoral degree from Harvard. By Andrea Dawn Clark

Responding to the Call

Alumna Shawyn Patterson-Howard ’05 makes history as the first female Mayor of Mount Vernon, New York. By Andrea Dawn Clark

A Voice for Victims

Political Science Associate Professor Verónica Michel Explores Victims’ Rights in Latin America. By Shirley Del Valle

Donor Profile: Living with Integrity

Nasser J. Kazeminy, Chairman of the Ellis Island Honors Society, shares how he’s faced every challenge in his life with curiosity, compassion, and integrity. By Andrea Dawn Clark

Flashback -1984

Reverend Jesse Jackson, a potential democratic nominee for president of the United States spoke at John Jay one evening in...

Understanding the Legacy

John Jay students, faculty, and staff visit the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement and contemplate the unsettling history of race in America. By Andrea Dawn Clark

LEAP Forward

The newest student-success initiative that supports second-semester freshmen, through their sophomore year, with intensive academic advisement, experiential learning, and career-focused internships. By Mary Anderson

In Solidarity with El Paso

Through its ties with the University of Texas at El Paso and the El Paso Project, John Jay’s Latin American and Latinx Studies Department seeks to educate, encourage, and empower our Latinx community. By Shirley Del Valle

President
Karol V. Mason

Vice President for Public Affairs
and Strategic Initiatives

Laura Ginns

Chief Communications Officer
Rama Sudhakar

Senior Editor/Writer
Editorial Director

Andrea Dawn Clark

Writer/Editor
Shirley Del Valle

Contributing Writers
Mary Anderson
Michael Friedrich

Senior Designer/Art Director
Laura DeVries

Designer
Stephanie Birdsong

Copy Editor
Carey Ostergard

Photography
Arpi Pap
Andrea Dawn Clark
Gabriel Hernández Solano

Illustration
Victoria Stewart-Meyers