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Cluster Analysis of Public Service Announcements on Sexual Assault

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English Abstract and Key Words···································I

Chinese Abstract and Key Words···································II

Description of PSAs·············································1

“It’s On Us” ···············································1

“Who Will You Help” ·······································2


        Cluster Analysis··············································4

        Literature Review············································5

Identification of Key Terms········································6

“It’s On Us” ················································6

“Who Will You Help” ········································7

Clusters around Key Elements······································7

        “It’s On Us” ················································7

        “Who Will You Help” ········································8

Interpretations of Clusters·········································9

“It’s On Us” ················································9

“Who Will You Help” ········································10

Comparison and Analysis of Effect··································12





The problem of sexual assault has gained more and more attention in recent years. Previous studies explore campaigns that help survivors seek support after attack and discursive effort that toughen up how people deal with assailants. One crucial group, however, has been always left out of the discussion: bystanders. Both American government and Ontario government have launched campaigns to stop sexual assault. Both have released Public Service Announcements(PSA) that appeal to people who can take responsibility to stop sexual assault. This paper applies cluster analysis to analyze how these two PSAs persuade the audience to stand up and take responsibility. Both PSAs are well-organized and clearly convey the theme that bystanders should take responsibility to stop sexual assault, but their persuasive effects are different. Since they adopt different ways of persuasion, this essay also compare which way may be more effective in terms of a sexual assault PSA.

Key Words: sexual assault, bystander, cluster analysis, Public Service Announcement




Cluster Analysis of Public Service Announcements on Sexual Assault

The problem of sexual assault has existed in human society for a long time. However, the attached taboo prevented public discussion of the issue for so long that the problem hardly received any attention in public agenda. Therefore, little contribution was made to fighting against it and changing the situation. However, it now becomes a more public topic. Both non-government organizations and governments are making effort to stop it from happening. One of the actions they have taken is to release Public Service Announcements, with the intention to raise people’s awareness and to serve as a guide for solving the problem. Public Service Announcement (PSA) is an advertisement “disseminated by media without charge” (“Public service announcement” Wikipedia). It circulates via modern technological media. In this paper, I conduct a cluster analysis of two PSAs, one released by White House in 2014 and entitled It’s On Us, the other released by the Ontario government in 2015 and entitled Who Will You Help. By analyzing these two PSAs, this paper unpacks the inner workings of visual communication, revealing how they are persuasive respectively and how they are different from each other in terms of persuasion strategies.

  1. Description of PSAs
  1. “It’s On Us”

“It’s On Us” was released by “It’s On Us” campaign, which was launched by the American government against sexual assault on college campuses. The campaign urges the public stand up against sexual assault and step away from the sidelines to be an active part of the solution. Since campaign was launched on September 19, 2014, more than 275,000 individuals have taken the It’s On Us pledge. The It’s On Us team have also joined forces with over 90 official partners, which include corporations, non-profit organizations, and college athletic conferences. In addition, 483 schools in 48 states have hosted 1,100 It’s On Us events in total. (“It’s On Us Campaign Organizing Tools Spring 2016” It’s On Us)



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