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2017: The year #MeToo happened and what it meant for moms

#MeToo is sparking plenty of off-line conversations between parents and kids.

2017: The year #MeToo happened and what it meant for moms

As 2017 comes to a close, one thing is certain: History will remember this year for the sexual harassment reckoning that began and the resulting cultural shift prompted by the #MeToo movement.


The “me too” campaign was created by activist Tarana Burke 10 years ago, but after extensive reports on sexual assault allegations against film mogul Harvey Weinstein were published this October, the phrase was amplified as a hashtag by another actress, Alyssa Milano. That both women are mothers likely plays no small role in their desire to speak out.

As one of TIME’s celebrated silence breakers of 2017, Milano said “I look at my daughter and think, ‘Please, let this be worth it. Please, let it be that my daughter never has to go through anything like this.’”

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It is worth it. Here is how we’ve already seen #MeToo shape our children’s world for the better:

1. Society is listening

Post-Weinstein, people who once felt powerless against their own personal harassers were buoyed by #MeToo and raised their voices. The last three months of 2017 have seen a steady stream of sexual harassment and assault allegations levied against men in powerful positions in media, politics and other industries.

Actor Kevin Spacey, TODAY show host Matt Lauer, comedian Louis C.K., celebrity chef Mario Batali, congressman John Conyers and senator Al Franken are among the long list of those accused who have stepped down or been removed from leadership roles in recent weeks.

According to Pew Research, two-thirds of Americans (66%) say the post-Weinstein allegations “mainly reflect widespread problems in society,” instead of seeing them as unrelated, individual cases of misconduct.

The message is clear: This behavior won’t be tolerated anymore.

2. Kids are listening, too

Sexual harassment and assault aren’t only adult problems. Research indicates almost half of students in grades 7-12 experience sexual harassment, but a recent Harvard survey of 3,000 18-25 years olds found 76% had never had a conversation with their parents about how to avoid sexually harassing other people.

Media coverage of #MeToo is changing those stats for the next generation as the hashtag has spawned plenty of conversations between parents and kids.

And even the small ways we change how we frame sexual harassment have not-so-small consequences: In the early aughts, middle school boys snapping classmates’ bra straps were said to be “boys being boys.” In 2017, parents are calling it what it really is—sexual harassment.

3. And we’re all learning

The youngest kids are unlikely to be asking questions about #MeToo, but it doesn’t mean they’re not impacted by it.

A generation ago, a mom may have held her tongue when a relative insisted a reluctant child give in to a hug, but in a post-#MeToo world, more and more moms are teaching kids that it’s okay to say no to a hug.

The hashtag has highlighted a pervasive problem—and as horrible as it is to hear so many people coming forward with stories of harassment and abuse, 2017 has seen a bit of a collective “a-ha” moment. Today, that looks like #MeToo. Tomorrow, it may be “never again.”

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