What is public engagement?

Public engagement is the process that brings people together to address issues of common importance, to solve shared problems, and to bring about positive social change. Effective public engagement invites average citizines to get involved in deliberation, dialogue, and action on public issues they care about.

Why is public engagement important?

Public engagement is a core component of prevention, as prevention requires the participation of all members of a community. This includes not only the policy makers and the general public, but also the media who ultimately shape the culture and understanding about sexual violence. This resulting culture and understanding of sexual violence influences policy and legislative changes, as well as the public’s attitudes, responses, and beliefs about survivors, perpetrators, and prevention. Public engagement also reflects a public health model for the prevention of sexual abuse as prevention requires the active participation of multiple disciplines and individuals from all sectors of our communities.

How can you become involved in public engagement?

ATSA members may not know it, but we already participate in public engagement through our day to day activities by educating friends, family and collaborative partners about our work. Of course, we can always improve our public engagement by being intentional, thoughtful and prepared! This webpage is designed to empower ATSA members, collaborative partners, and other interested persons to become more effective in their public engagement efforts to prevent sexual violence.

There are several types of public engagement to consider:

  • Community based which focuses on engaging the general public such as parents, educators, religious organizations, educational institutions, and other community groups.
  • Media based which focuses on engaging the various media outlets such as digital, print, television, radio and social media.
  • Professional based which focuses on engaging professional partners such as policy makers, other mental health professionals, victim advocates, parole/probation officers, lawyers, judges, and law enforcement.


ATSA 2014 Public Engagement Event

In an effort to promote public engagement through education, ATSA co-sponsored a free public engagement event – Understanding Sexual Abuse & Sexual Assault: Causes, Consequences, and Prevention – with the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CALCASA), the California Coalition on Sexual Offending (CCOSO), the Institute on Violence, Abuse and Trauma (IVAT), and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) on October 28, 2014 in conjunction with the ATSA 33rd Annual Research & Treatment Conference in San Diego, California. The following videos are recordings of the event and available for download to be used as training and educational materials.

Tips for how to use these videos for public engagement is available here.

Other Resources

Talking About Prevention: Sometimes it's Not the Picture, it's the Frame

Public Engagement and Changing Attitudes About Sexual Abuse

Engaging Bystanders in Sexual Violence Prevention (NSVRC, 2009)

Tips for Writing a Letter to the Editor (NSVRC, 2014)

ATSA Media Resources

International Resources

Leverhulme Offender Engagement International Network

Lucy Faithful Foundation ECSA Project

ECPAT International

RAINN Internationl Resources


For additional resources and information on ATSA's Public Engagement activities, follow us on Facebook and Twitter!