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The Public Health Approach to Sexual
Violence Prevention
Public health is ultimately concerned with approaches that address the health of a population rather
than one individual. This is generally referred to as a population-based approach and is one of the
principles that distinguishes public health from other approaches to health-related issues.
Based on this principle, a public health prevention strategy demonstrates benefits for the largest
group of people possible, because the problem is widespread and typically affects the entire population
in some way, either directly or indirectly. The public health approach also depends upon collective
action (Krug, Dahlberg, Mercy et al. 2002). It is a community-oriented approach that takes the onus
from victims and advocates and encourages the entire community (women, men and youth) to prevent
sexual violence.
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