Category Archives: In Jen’s Opinion

What we can take away from Penn State, child sex abuse cases

A few years ago I was sitting in a temple prep class (it’s a Mormon thing) when the man giving the lesson told us the story of his childhood. He had been raped and sexually abused. At the end of his story he told the small group that when he walks into a room and speaks to people, he can tell which of the others in the group had also been sexually abused as a child.

I felt like he was looking right at me.

Maybe he knew, maybe he didn’t. I don’t know that I’ve really kept it a secret the last few years, but I’ve never publically announced it. I’m getting ready to, however. Not because I feel like I’ve been holding this deep dark secret, but because I feel like my story helps others.

The recent news of football coaches and other authorities at Penn State covering up, or covering their eyes, to child rape and sex abuse has others coming out to tell their stories.

(And just because I really need to throw my opinion in here: I think the focus should be on Mike McQueary and not Joe Paterno, who should never hold a position of authority again. How he could WATCH a child being raped and not immediately stop it. To make matters worse, he waited till the next day to tell anyone, and it wasn’t even the police. I don’t care what the laws say or how terrified the man was of losing his job – he is one of the many people responsible for allowing child sex abuse to continue. Every person involved should feel ashamed and disgusted with himself or herself. There is nothing more precious in this world than our children. If you allow them to be abused by monsters, realize how you are shaping our future. And I hope Sandusky rots in hell.)

In light of the news, Goldie Taylor decided to tell her story on CNN of how she was raped by a teacher at her high school. She had never said it publicly. Based on her comments, I feel that she may have been ashamed and felt guilty for what had happened to her. I sympathize with her completely. I’ve been there.

But I don’t fully agree with everything she said last night.

goldie taylor tells her story

I was sexually abused as a child. In a book I am writing about the dangers of allowing children to come in contact with pornography, I open with my story. It’s a story that may greatly upset those close to me and those who always wondered what skeletons I was hiding in my closet. Don’t we all have them?

But I have learned from sharing my story with individuals, that it brings them a sense of hope. I am not victim. I am not a survivor. I am a warrior. I can choose to “cope” or I can forge ahead passionately and make something incredible of my life.

I made mistakes, lots of them, as a young adult dealing with the pain of being abused as a child. But I chose to leave it behind me. In fact, after counseling, I no longer feel that aching pain inside when I think of the things that happened to me. I don’t feel sorry for myself. I feel sorry for my abusers.

I chose to forgive them for their choices, and I chose to forgive myself for the mistakes I made afterward. It has made me stronger. It has made me a fighter. It has made me a better and more alert parent.

Maybe there are days when I see the childlike Jennifer pushing through, making me scared and vulnerable. And I embrace that part of me because it makes me human, realistic and more willing to accept faults in others.

I still make mistakes. I’m still untrusting in relationships. Some days I am still afraid to let a man get too close. But I control my future. No one holds me back except myself. And that I have full control over. I strive every day to be a better person, mother and worker.

You can, too. Don’t let someone else’s mistakes hold you back.


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What print news can learn from social media geeks

print newspapers are not dying

The day printed newspapers were created, they’ve been dying. Beginning in the early 1700s, newspapers in America began competing with each other. Often one newspaper would be circulated in the morning and the competitor would circulate evening news.

Later, newspapers would compete with radio and then with television. Nightly news anchors would deliver the day’s news before newspapers would be circulated the next morning.

Printed newspapers have never been able to keep up with breaking news. But they were still one of the most trusted places to get your news. And because of this, newspapers never learned how to adapt.

Fifteen years ago, many of us in journalism were giving up our pica poles, floppy disks and proportion wheels. Digital media was beginning to rear its ugly head and “The Internet” became a dirty word.

There are journalists and publishers who cannot accept the fact that the Internet has became today’s medium for breaking, local and national news. In fact, many small business owners are still struggling with how to use the Internet to advertise their company.

Those newspapers have gone out of print or are close to doing so.

What many old-school publishers don’t realize is that there is still a place for journalists in today’s digital media. Recent college graduates can tell you the convergence of all types of mediums are necessary in order to keep journalism alive. Today, reporters must know how to write copy for print, television and radio. YouTube and Facebook have become some of the best tools for newspapers that give breaking news online.

The trick to keeping newspapers alive is to realize two things: the Internet is not your enemy and your reporter is your brand.

The Internet has given us a way to update our readers instantly when there is a traffic accident they should avoid or when a flood is imminent.  Our Internet readers are looking for quick updates and breaking news, and that’s what we give them.

Print newspapers give reporters the chance to go in-depth and talk about upcoming news.  This works well for those who want to sit down and put some thought into the story. Print newspapers are still key when it comes to informative news and great photo layout. Print newspapers still drive the most consumers to local businesses when marketed correctly. (As a side note, there is a trick to keeping readers without making them pay for your online content. Unless you’re as big as the New York Times, paywalls are a very bad idea for print newspapers.)

Social media gives readers the chance to become part of the story and interact with reporters in a way they never could before.

In the early days of the Internet when newspapers began going online and readers were able to comment on stories, editors made it clear that reporters were never allowed to respond to reader’s comments. Doing so was a clear violation of most newspaper’s policies. You were allowed only to correct a fact or error; you were not allowed to have an opinion.

That, however, is not what readers have asked for. Yes, they want unbiased news, but they want it from a real person they can trust.

Roland Martin has over 90,000 Facebook followers and nearly 80,000 Twitter followers. He’s an analyst for TV One and CNN. Roland has learned that he IS the brand. Those who follow Roland trust him not just because of his intelligence and political know-how, but also because they can connect with him and ask him questions. You may be halfway across the world and know zero about politics, but ask him a question on Twitter and he just might answer you. Plus, it is harder to swear at him when you disagree with his politics because he often uses a profile picture of a child – presumably his own.

Prior to social media, the brand was the newspaper, radio show or TV station. Now you find reporters personal Twitter accounts at the bottom of their articles. The brand is the reporter, talk show host or news anchor.

Print newspapers, radio and television will always have their place. But unless publishers learn to use the Internet and social media as an additional tool for reporting, they will soon find themselves irrelevant in today’s changing world.

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Posted by on November 11, 2011 in In Jen's Opinion


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Things your burglar won’t tell you

We were researching burglaries in St. George after I noticed more home burglaries than I remembered there being in year’s past. As it turns out, home burglaries follow a close second to vehicle burglaries. Business and storage shed burglaries were rare in comparison.

The same day we published the article, I received this email and I thought it was worth sharing:


1. Of course I look familiar. I was here just last week cleaning your carpets, painting your shutters, or delivering your new refrigerator.

2. Thanks for letting me use the bathroom when I was working in your yard last week.  While I was in there, I unlatched the back window to make my return a little easier.

3. Love those flowers. That tells me you have taste… and taste means there are nice things inside. Those yard toys your kids leave out always make me wonder what type of gaming system they have.

4. Yes, I really do look for newspapers piled up on the driveway. And I might leave a pizza flyer in your front door to see how long it takes you to remove it..

5. If it snows while you’re out of town, get a neighbor to create car and foot tracks into the house. Virgin drifts in the driveway are a dead giveaway.

6. If decorative glass is part of your front entrance, don’t let your alarm company install the control pad where I can see if it’s set. That makes it too easy.

7. A good security company alarms the window over the sink. And the windows on the second floor, which often access the master bedroom – and your jewelry. It’s not a bad idea to put motion detectors up there too.

8. It’s raining, you’re fumbling with your umbrella, and you forget to lock your door – understandable. But understand this: I don’t take a day off because of bad weather.

9. I always knock first. If you answer, I’ll ask for directions somewhere or offer to clean your gutters. (Don’t take me up on it.)

10. Do you really think I won’t look in your sock drawer? I always check dresser drawers, the bedside table, and the medicine cabinet.

11. Here’s a helpful hint: I almost never go into kids’ rooms.

12. You’re right: I won’t have enough time to break into that safe where you keep your valuables. But if it’s not bolted down, I’ll take it with me.

13. A loud TV or radio can be a better deterrent than the best alarm system. If you’re reluctant to leave your TV on while you’re out of town, you can buy a $35 device that works on a timer and simulates the flickering glow of a real television.


1. Sometimes, I carry a clipboard.. Sometimes, I dress like a lawn guy and carry a rake. I do my best to never, ever look like a crook.

2. The two things I hate most: loud dogs and nosy neighbors.

3. I’ll break a window to get in, even if it makes a little noise. If your neighbor hears one loud sound, he’ll stop what he’s doing and wait to hear it again. If he doesn’t hear it again, he’ll just go back to what he was doing. It’s human nature.

4.. I’m not complaining, but why would you pay all that money for a fancy alarm system and leave your house without setting it?

5. I love looking in your windows. I’m looking for signs that you’re home, and for flat screen TVs or gaming systems I’d like. I’ll drive or walk through your neighborhood at night, before you close the blinds, just to pick my targets.

6. Avoid announcing your vacation on your Facebook page. It’s easier than you think to look up your address.

7. To you, leaving that window open just a crack during the day is a way to let in a little fresh air.. To me, it’s an invitation.

8. If you don’t answer when I knock, I try the door. Occasionally, I hit the jackpot and walk right in.

Sources: Convicted burglars in North Carolina, Oregon, California, and Kentucky; security consultant Chris McGoey, who runs and Richard T. Wright, a criminology professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, who interviewed 105 burglars for his book Burglars on the Job.

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Posted by on October 31, 2011 in In Jen's Opinion



Don’t shoot the messenger

I’ve been following this story in China where a toddler was run over by not one, but multiple vehicles. As she was lying bleeding and dying in the street, pedestrians kept walking, drivers kept running her over. Who knows where her parents were. Finally, someone ran to her aid.

It’s hard to imagine a world so desensitized and selfish but it’s happening.

Here in Washington County I’ve seen countless vehicle accidents lately. Too many people have lost their lives, many came close. Talking to Officer Craig Harding on the radio show last week, we discussed that many accidents are due to distracted drivers, i.e. cell phones.

A couple years ago I was driving on Bluff Street when I received a text. I responded to the text and then pulled into a gas station. A man in the vehicle behind me scolded me for it. It was embarrassing to say the least, but I learned a good lesson. Now I try to put my phone where I can’t reach it while I’m driving. I’ve seen the videos on YouTube. The teenagers dying in car accidents because they were talking and driving or texting and driving.

Today I was driving up the Boulevard. Ahead of me in the left lane I saw that a city worker had put out cones as he worked on the road. I slowed, looked behind me, turned on my blinker. The car in the right lane slowed, made sure there was enough room to move over, and let me in. As I began to merge, I saw in my rearview mirror a gray Ford truck zip around that car and cut in front of them, narrowly making it and nearly running me off the road. I swerved back into the left lane and braked hard to avoid the city worker walking in the street, unaware that he could have just been killed.

We’ve all been there. A car cuts you off and you’re angry. You want to get even but you don’t. You want to call the police and get them ticketed, but still you don’t. As the blonde driver passed me, she looked right at me but continued her cell phone conversation without so much as a wave, an apology, even a hint of sorrow that she just cut off two vehicles and could have gotten a pedestrian killed.

I wasn’t angry. I was shocked.

I looked at her license plate but knew I wasn’t going to call the police. But I did notice the sticker in her back window advertising a local business. I knew the owner. I wondered if he’d be surprised if an employee was driving recklessly while advertising his business. I liked this owner. Many times I have referred friends and even strangers his way. I respected him.

I thought I’d give him a call. I was polite. It wasn’t his fault. First I asked if he had an employee with a gray truck or if the gray truck belonged to his business. He hesitated and stumbled on his words a bit, but he said no. I didn’t feel like it mattered anymore then. No point in bringing it up, but he asked me why. I casually and quickly recounted the events and was just about to the end the conversation with a but-since-you-don’t-own-the-truck-definitely-not-your-problem-have-a-good-day tone in my voice.

Had I been walking, his reply would have stopped me dead in my tracks.

He got angry with me. Really angry. He said something like “haven’t you ever made a mistake” without giving me a chance to answer.

I would hope that if my mistake was endangering other people’s lives, that someone would have informed me. You’d think I’d sent SWAT to his doorstep to arrest his wife with the way he got upset.

I lost respect for him at that moment. I will never again refer people to his place of business, which I’m sure suits him fine since he doesn’t appear to respect me either.

When did we become that sort of society where hurting other people, violently or physically, or narrowly doing so, for our own selfish purposes (a phone call that just couldn’t wait), that we get angry at those who simply talk about it? We get angry with those who ask us not to endanger the lives of others?

Maybe I should have said nothing and minded my own business. But then again, since the blonde nearly forced me to run an innocent man over, I would say that was somewhat my business.


Posted by on October 28, 2011 in In Jen's Opinion


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Is Sherri Shepherd saying only white people are racist?

barbara walters says nigger

Some words should just never be used. Not by whites, blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans, women, men, children, Mormons, Catholics – not by any of us.

I can think of a long list of words that fall into this category. They are words I just don’t ever, ever use. Such as “cu**,” the “N” word, “tits,” “cock,” etc.

Other words in my home that cannot be used are “stupid,” “shut up” and “freaking.” It’s really quite irritating to hear a 3-year-old say, “I said freaking stop.” I try to teach my children to use better vocabulary and some words are just degrading and disrespectful. When we allow others to use these words against us, we are saying, “I don’t respectful myself so you don’t have to either.”

That said, while I don’t believe in using certain language, why is it okay for some and not others based on their gender, race or sexual orientation?

I read an article in QSaltLake yesterday that said “… where queer-minded people …” It used the word “queer” multiple times. If I said that, as a heterosexual, in any of my articles, I’m pretty sure I’d be getting some hate mail.

Then I watched the highly debated clip from The View in which Whoopi Goldberg says the “N” word, multiple times. Barbara Walters, saying the name of an actual place and not in slang, says the “N” word. Sherri Shepherd has a come apart.

Watch clip here

Skip to 2:40 into the video and you clearly hear and see her telling Walters that it is okay for Goldberg to say the word, but it is NOT okay for Walters. Why? Because she’s white.

Am I the only one realizing that this makes Shepherd racist?

And since she continuously shows her racism throughout the nearly 10-minute clip, why isn’t everyone outraged about this? Instead they are angry with Walters and those like Dr. Laura for saying a word, not in harshness, that black people say all the time.

Are only white people racist? Do other races get a pass for some reason? Aren’t bad words still bad words no matter who says them?


Posted by on October 17, 2011 in In Jen's Opinion


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War on Drugs: DEA focuses on the innocent

When we hear that the bad guys are selling drugs to our 11-year-old middle schoolers, we are grateful for the protection of the police department. When we hear that an innocent man was shot as a drug dealer fled police, we are grateful for the justice system that locks up the drug dealer. When a 28-year-old mother is killed in Philly after being the innocent victim in a shootout intended for someone else, we mourn and ask what more can be done. When Mexican Drug Cartel come to our unsuspecting, quiet towns in Utah and put citizens in danger by starting marijuana grows in the places we hunt and camp, we celebrate the local police and DEA who hunt them down. When the DEA seizes the property of a rancher who unknowingly rented a room at his hotel to a drug user, we … wait, what?

The War on Drugs is meant to fight the bad guys, isn’t it? Our taxpayer dollars are being used to hunt out the gang members who ruin the lives of children and illegally cross into our country to sell drugs to those who should be in treatment, right? It’s not possible that the DEA and our own Attorney General Eric Holder would do something out of these guidelines, is it?

Sadly, it seems so.

While 51% of Americans are paying for 49% of Americans (does not include non citizens) to be on welfare programs, while protestors are storming the streets and bridges of the cities around the country begging the government to intervene in unfair corporate practices (even though it’s the government’s fault), while Eric Holder continues to deny his involvement in Fast and Furious, a retiring couple who was trying to live the American Dream is having their land unfairly taken from them by the very organization that is supposed to protect them: the DEA.

Sound disturbing? Read the story.

Russell and Patricia Coswell are hard-working Americans now victim of civil forfeiture laws, which say that because some of the people who rented rooms at the Motel Coswell were drug users and arrested for drug practices, the DEA can now seize the property estimated to be worth over $1 million – even though the DEA admits the Coswell’s have done nothing wrong.

The Coswells themselves have tried to keep drugs off their property, installing cameras and calling police to report suspicious activity.  And now the federal government has filed papers in court to seize the property.

“But civil forfeiture laws treat property owners worse than criminals. Criminals must be proven guilty before their property is taken. Once the government targets a property for civil forfeiture, however, the property owner must prove his innocence. For the Caswells, that means squaring off against the U.S. attorney’s office in federal court to make the difficult if not impossible case that they did not know that guests brought drugs into their rented rooms.

Even more shocking, local police and the federal government have a direct financial stake in the forfeiture. Through so-called ‘equitable sharing,’ Washington pays local police departments 80 percent of what they seize and keeps the rest.”

I’m wondering why they don’t come for our local Motel 6. Guess there isn’t as much profit in it.


Posted by on October 13, 2011 in In Jen's Opinion


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‘Occupy’ organizers: Where were you?

When Occupy Wall Street began protesting a month ago, I was excited to see “something” being done. It wasn’t necessarily the “something” I had been arguing for on Fox News Radio each time I compelled listeners to pay attention to what is happening to America and what our government is doing to it’s citizens.

I am new to this realization that our freedoms have been taken away from us little by little, in such a way that we freely give them up believing it will keep us safer. I am new to the realization that more taxes and more spending and more entitlement programs and bailouts are bankrupting not only our country, but individual households. Greed and fear have gripped our nation until we’ve begged the government to save us with stricter laws and more welfare programs, while hardworking Americans are laughed at and called “selfish.”

So when the Occupy movement began, I was excited to see some action. And then came “Occupy Saint George,” and I watched from the sidelines to see what they were about. They have said they are not sure what their demands are, but they are going to be heard by marching through city offices and attending a city council meeting to make their presence known.

By all means, there are usually plenty of seats. (They do realize some key officials are not in this week due to the Wagon Train, right?)

It wasn’t long ago, maybe a month ago, that the City of St. George held an open town hall meeting where residents could be seen and heard. Where were these protestors then, I ask? Two weeks Fox News Radio held a city council candidates debate and asked for public input and invited them to attend the event for free. Where were the protestors then? Primary elections were held in September, and only 12% of voters showed up. Where were the protestors then? When you are asked to volunteer and make your community better, are you there?

One of the Occupy Saint George organizers is occasionally there. He has made his presence known, he has made his voice heard. I commend him for trying to help make the city a better place to live. But I wonder, is that what they are asking for? And how do they plan on doing it aside from a few protests on Saturdays?

To all Occupiers, I know what you are against. It is easy to point blame and say “things suck.” But tell me what you are for. Tell me what you believe in, and tell me how you are going to accomplish it. Are you going to volunteer and participate in your city dealings, or just complain about them and march in a few protests until you find something better to do with your time?

Before making “demands” on the city or the government, first establish who is responsible for answering to your demands.

You are. We must take responsibility for our contributions to the mess before we can fix them. If you really want change, it starts with you. And until there is some organization and clear goals from the Occupiers, I fear no one will take this very seriously.

And if those goals include more laws, more government, more invasion of the free market by Congress and forgiving student loan debt, then Occupiers are only asking for more of what they say they are against.


Posted by on October 11, 2011 in In Jen's Opinion


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