Public Attitudes Toward Institutional Child Sexual Abuse in Israel: The Case of Malka Leifer

Efrat Lusky-Weisrose, Amitai Marmor, Dafna Tener

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study examined Israeli public perceptions of institutional child sexual abuse (CSA) in the Malka Leifer case. Leifer is a Jewish ultra-Orthodox former Melbourne school principal who is wanted in Australia on CSA charges, after fleeing to Israel. Based on a qualitative analysis of 2,451 reader comments retrieved from four Israeli news websites and six public Facebook pages, the findings indicated diverse attitudes toward the alleged perpetrator, the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, state authorities, and victims. All parties involved were criticized, but less so the victims. Criticisms included sociopolitical and gender stereotypes, and demonic attributions. Positive comments were directed at all involved, even the alleged perpetrator, and especially the victims. The results demonstrate the need to better understand CSA portrayals in cyberspace, as they affect both public and policymaker attitudes, and the importance of fighting prejudicial discourse about the ultra-Orthodox community, especially in light of its changing attitudes regarding CSA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-179
Number of pages23
JournalSexual Abuse
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2022


  • Attitude
  • Child
  • Child Abuse, Sexual
  • Humans
  • Israel
  • Judaism
  • Public Opinion
  • female perpetrator
  • institutional child sexual abuse (CSA)
  • online media
  • religion
  • ultra-Orthodox Jews

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Psychology(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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