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#MeToo Hashtag Draws Awareness To Sexual Assault, Harassment

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Social media on Monday was flooded with messages – mostly from women – who tagged their profiles to indicate that they have been victims of sexual harassment or assault.

As CBS2's Jennifer McLogan reported, the movement started in response to the Harvey Weinstein scandal, and its fallout.

On college campuses and across the New York area, students responded to calls to tweet the hashtag #MeToo to show how commonplace sexual harassment and assault really are.

"It'll give people an opportunity to be able to speak out and let the world know their truth," said SUNY Farmingdale student Alexis Weatherill.

"Hashtags are awesome, and the way things are spread through social media – so the whole 'me too,' it's nice," said SUNY Farmingdale Christina Hickey.

The messages began appearing frequently on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram when the actress Alyssa Milano posted a screenshot that was first suggested by a friend.

She wrote: "If you've been sexually harassed or assaulted, write 'me too' as a reply to this tweet."
Tens of thousands responded.

In fact, many in the Millennial generation believes the are better at dealing with abuse than their parents. They think despicable behavior, allegedly at the hands of Weinstein in others, is less likely to be tolerated among those born after 1980 – because since the age of 3, they have been taught, "that we should speak up for what we think is wrong."

Comedian and activist Nick Jack Pappas posted: "Men, don't say you have a mother, a sister, a daughter. Say you have a father, a brother, a son who can do better. We all can."

At Farmingdale State, students are embracing the mantra, "Equality is not the ideal – it is the way life should be." All must work toward that goal, said SUNY Farmingdale Title IX coordinator Andrea Thomas.

"Saying, "Yes, I identify with #MeToo; yes there is an issue that we have with sexual violence in our culture and society in the United States as a whole; so how can we consciously, proactively change that?'" Thomas said.

Student Jerome Stanislaus spent years in the military, and said he is proud of gender equality.

"There's a generational difference there," Stanislaus said. "You know, things that were acceptable back then or not enforced back then wouldn't fly now."

The next generation of leaders with their no tolerance attitude toward sexual harassment say everyone should keep the conversation going -- strongly and urgently.

There has been no response from Weinstein regarding the #MeToo hashtag. But through a spokesman, he "unequivocally denies any allegations of non-consensual sex."


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