The social marketing approach: A way to increase reporting and treatment of sexual assault

Amnon Boehm, Haya Itzhaky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Too often communities remain silent in response to cases of sexual assault of children. Members of the community are afraid to report such incidents and victims are reluctant to seek and accept treatment. The purpose of the paper is to examine whether application of a social marketing approach may serve as an effective means for motivating communities to report and victims to seek professional treatment. Methods: The paper is based on a case study of an ultra-orthodox Jewish community in Israel, where an informal campaign of silence developed. Using content analysis of documents and in-depth interviews, the research examines the implementation of a social marketing approach by a multidisciplinary team of professionals in the community. It focuses on developments in the community's attitude to sexual abuse, especially with regard to reporting assault and seeking and accepting treatment. Results: The findings show a considerable reduction in the fear that victims and other members of the community felt with regard to exposing the issue; a change among the community leaders, some of whom initially objected to reporting and treatment; introduction of an alternative community dialogue that advocated reporting and treatment; and a rise in the number of reports and of people in treatment. Conclusion: The paper recommends the integration of principles of social marketing in community programs aimed at dealing with sexual assault. In particular, it suggests the identification of competing groups in the community, construction of specific programs for different segments, addressing the no-monetary prices that the change may incur on the different groups, location of appropriate places for distribution of messages, and use of effective personal, as well as public means of communication and promotion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-265
Number of pages13
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2004


  • Child abuse
  • Community intervention
  • Sexual assault
  • Silencing
  • Social marketing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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