Social media's role in sexual assault awareness

With the rise of people sharing on social media their stories and allegations of sexual abuse, Edinboro University faculty held a discussion Tuesday called “#MeToo: A moment or a Movement?”

"Social media has it very good aspects, as well as negative aspects. And it kind of behooves us to try to use our voices, the platforms that we have, the connections that we have to so many people to try to get issues out into the open,” said Stacy Dunn, Ph.D., moderator of the discussion and adjunct professor in the Criminal Justice, Anthropology, and Forensic Studies Department.

Sophomore Stacy Willard agreed. "It's kind of detrimental and it's kind of helping it out, because a lot of the sexual abuse happens over social media sites."

Some people question #MeToo and the validity of stories. According to a report, “False Allegations of Sexual Abuse: An Analysis of Ten Years of Reported Cases,” two to 10 percent of reported sexual assaults are deemed false.

Meanwhile, some people question whether some accusers are overreacting, but Willard said it is evident when advances are unwelcome.

"For me, I feel like I can see the tale signs that somebody wants to talk to me or they don't want to talk to me,” he said.

University officials said not everyone is ready or comfortable to report sex crimes, but there are resources for the students.

Shellie Ritzel, director of Campus Life and Leadership Development and deputy Title IX coordinator, said, "So, if they are uncomfortable going to the house center to do anything, we can hook them up with resources within the Edinboro and Erie communities--to help them out, so that they don't feel pressured to have to report anything here on campus.”

“Me Too” was started a decade ago by Tarana Burke as part of a sexual assault awareness campaign. The phrase was catapulted into the mainstream in October.

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