Sisters Jennifer Wooden Mitchell and Rosemary Wooden Webb are following in the footsteps of their father, Giraffe Hero Ken Wooden, devoting their lives to preventing the abuse of children. It’s a world of shocking and painful realities, one most of us would rather not think about, much less work in, day after day. But the Wooden sisters deal with the ugliness and work to end it, day after day, year after year.
Thirty-six years ago, Giraffe Hero Ken Wooden founded Child Lures Prevention and developed a curriculum that has educated thousands of U.S. students a year about avoiding child abuse. Several years after that, his young daughters, Jennifer and Rosemary, joined the cause.
Wooden’s daughters are now the organization’s co-presidents, extending its reach to ever more kids, like the 100,000 students in 126 Indiana schools who went through the program last year. In that effort, 1,853 students requested to talk to a trusted adult and 107 reported sexual abuse to the Department of Children’s Services.
Child Lures Prevention tells children that they have a right not to be abused and that they're not responsible for abuse, no matter what predators might tell them. The program also helps parents and educators recognize and deal with mistreatment.
As Webb says, “We let kids know they have rights, and they have a right to live free of abuse.” And Mitchell adds, “By educating children and families, beginning in elementary school, we begin to cut off the supply line to these insidious sexual offenders, predators, and traffickers.”
It’s been a long and not-easy ride for the two women. When they were only 12 and 13, they lobbied Congress to pass the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation Act. When she was 14, Rosemary received an obscene and threatening phone call because of her father’s investigation of the Reverend Jim Jones’ People’s Temple. Both sisters knew whistleblowers from the Temple who were later murdered.
Both sisters have interviewed imprisoned sexual predators to learn their methods. And both sisters pored over their father’s raw data from over 1,000 convicted sex offenders about how those criminals groomed and exploited their victims.
Mitchell and Webb have developed many more materials—books, videos, pamphlets, etc.—about child abuse that are aimed at students, parents, schools, law enforcement agencies, and child-serving organizations. They recently presented some of those materials at a UN gathering in Switzerland.
The sisters’ video, “All Secrets Can Be Told,” has almost a quarter of a million views on YouTube. They regularly make presentations around the country—facilitating training sessions, speaking to groups, and coordinating with organizations to reach more people. And each sister has a husband and two children of her own, all of whom volunteer at Child Lures Prevention.
Finally, like their father, Jennifer Mitchell and Rosemary Webb don’t do this for the money; they spend a lot more on their cause than they make. An IRS agent once asked their CPA, “How can these people give so much away?” The CPA responded, “That’s just the kind of people they are. They're not in it for the income. They are in it for the outcome.”