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Journal Article


Katz C, Glucklich T, Piller S. Child Abuse Rev. 2019; 28(2): 127-138.


(Copyright © 2019, John Wiley and Sons)






The media plays a significant role in our lives and constitutes a very powerful socialising agent with the potential to influence public opinion and policymakers regarding social issues, such as child maltreatment. The present study was designed to explore how child maltreatment is portrayed in the media and to examine public perception regarding this phenomenon, as expressed by reader comments. Articles about child maltreatment published on the five official news websites in Israel were assessed using descriptive and qualitative analysis. It was found that most of the coverage of child maltreatment could be characterised as episodic. The majority of news articles failed to provide information regarding the potential risk/causal factors and often missed opportunities to discuss solutions to maltreatment. Of the stakeholders presented in the articles, only rarely could the voices of child victims or their families be heard, whereas the presence of legal professionals was frequent. A high frequency of reader comments referred to rage and despair. The results demonstrate the need to develop various practices in order to narrow the gaps between findings and statistics about child maltreatment and the way in which the phenomenon is currently portrayed in the media, as such portrayals exert an impact on both public perceptions and policymakers' attitudes. © 2019 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. 'Explore[s] how child maltreatment is portrayed in the media and examine[s] public perception… as expressed by reader comments' Key Practitioner Messages The media is a significant tool with the potential to influence public opinion and policymakers regarding social issues. The study indicates that media coverage of child maltreatment often fails to present it as an extensive social problem and does not discuss possible solutions and prevention strategies for this phenomenon. Practitioners within the field of child maltreatment should be provided with training in working with the media. Joint collaboration between practitioners, the media and researchers is needed in order to narrow the gap between the worrisome figures regarding this phenomenon and its non-proportional representation in the media.

Language: en


child maltreatment; Israel; media; public perceptions; reader comments


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