Perhaps it feels like a dismissal of their own pain, which nobody has ever taken that seriously. An edited version of this post appeared on Open Democracy. are a specific variety of content warning that attempt to forewarn audiences of content that may cause intense. Anyway thanks for a really thought provoking and interesting read. She says that trigger warnings first appeared on feminist websites to flag up accounts of abuse. Mistakes are likely to happen as you aren’t necessarily sensitized to the same things your students are. Trigger warnings are a specific variety of content warning that attempt to forewarn audiences of content that may cause intense physiological and psychological symptoms for people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other anxiety disorders. It’s really hard to predict what will trigger someone. Some have suggested the phrase ‘content warnings’ as being less loaded than ‘trigger warnings’ and this might well be a helpful move. Following this, a number of online authors wrote defences of trigger warnings, portraying them instead as a means for people to have some control over what they are exposed to, often in the context of wider discriminations. Perhaps the student’s trigger seems suitably mild to you and you believed it didn’t need to be flagged or it simply seems silly. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. No matter how you choose to implement content warnings, it is important that students know what to expect and that they are put in a position where they can act in their own best interest without ridicule or scrutiny. You might well have ideas to add in each place from your own reflections and from the other writing that already exists on the topic. Trigger warnings are something that people can somehow legitimately target, in a similar way to the way in which it is easier to call-out an individual than it is to address the wider problematic cultures in which they are embedded. The term and concept originated at feminist websites that were discussing violence against women, and then spread to other areas, such as print media and university courses. Personalized warnings: In addition to common content warnings, it is appropriate to extend an offer to identify less common triggers, should a student request it. For example, a teacher providing trigger warnings to their class is potentially recognising the less privileged positions of many students (who may have experienced the kinds of things the lecture covers in ways that the teacher has not), and also flattening the hierarchy between teacher and student so that students can make choices about whether and how they engage with the materials. Much of it will be emotionally and intellectually challenging to engage with. I’ve included tags for: violence, racism, misogyny, and self-harm. On the contrary, warning students of challenging material can help their engagement by giving them the ability to take charge of their own health and learning. An Introduction to Content Warnings and Trigger Warnings. Suggestions that I would make here include the following: As with many such debates I think there is a good deal to be gained from listening with empathy to the other ‘side’ rather than looking for more reasons to dismiss them. This material is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. We might helpfully consider this question on multiple levels, i.e. A final friend feels triggered when told (in a debate about trigger warnings) that they don’t understand trauma, despite having undergone a life-threatening situation some months ago which is not something they feel comfortable speaking about publicly. It has also allowed what happened to become a part of me that i embrace to make me the psychology undergraduate and child counsellor that i am today. Do the best you can, and keep notes of content warning that should be applied to material if you teach it again in the future. Perhaps it would be useful if all authors on the topic applied their argument to the entire spectrum of potential traumas to consider whether what they’re saying works across the range or is limited to a certain section. Additional Reading on Implementing content warnings, “Trigger Warnings, Quentin Tarantino, and the College Classroom” by Kelli Marshall. It is also a potential way of recognising the structural constraints around agency. Trust Me, Trigger Warnings Are Helpful. A great deal of the activism surrounding trigger … brought into college classrooms to protect students suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD In class, try to provide a break before tackling potentially distressing material, and let students know what will be discussed or viewed after the break. This is a great post that really made me think. Until you develop a sensitization for common triggers, it is easy to forget that they occur and where they occur in your course material. For example, say you're exercising and your heart starts pounding. If you have concerns about encountering anything specific in the course material that I have not already tagged and would like me to provide warnings, please come see me or send me an email. There are multiple ways to implement content warnings in your class, and some may be more suitable than others depending on your teaching style and course. Students may request additional tags, as this list is not exhaustive. There is no consensus on the 'best' way to word a trigger warning so that it accurately describes the potentially-triggering content without becoming a trigger itse… For many on the ‘pro’ side, the ‘anti’ articles remind them of all the other times when their pain has been dismissed. It can be a memory, a physical sensation, or an emotion. And those lives, histories, and struggles don’t stop existing when class starts. In class, try to provide a break before tackling potentially distressing material, and let students know what will be discussed or viewed after the break. The motive behind including content warnings in classes is based on the simple recognition that our students are people with lives, histories, and struggles that we are not privy to, and can’t always understand. There is certainly a risk that trigger warnings play into this culture if the onus is on everyone to avoid triggering anybody else, and if great shame and guilt are attached to having triggered somebody. Including content or trigger warnings is an issue of accessibility, as having panic attacks in class (a common outcome when a trigger is unexpectedly encountered) can prevent a student from learning and adversely impacts their health and wellbeing. “Trigger warnings may be psychologically harmful in specific ways, which include increasing individuals’ perceptions of their vulnerability to developing PTSD in the event of experiencing trauma, and increasing anxiety response for individuals who believe that written material has the capacity to harm,” Bellet said. sharing photos about an eating disorder that might “trigger” or, worse, “inspire” someone who is currently dealing with anorexia). For example: Tags: Race, Racism, Racist slurs, Violence, Socio-economic class, Tags: Race, Racism, Racist Slurs, Racial Violence (, graphic scene p. 82-96, will be discussed at length in discussion section. When presented with a scene that depicts sexual violence, a student who was assaulted might shut down, disassociate, panic, become angry, or otherwise disengage from the class as they put all their attention into managing the emotional and physical symptoms the triggering material brings up for them. I explore the process I’ve applied here more in my book The Psychology of Sex, and will build on it in my forthcoming book with Alex Iantaffi for Jessica Kingsley: Life Isn’t Binary. : a statement cautioning that content (as in a text, video, or class) may be disturbing or upsetting Colleges across the country this spring have been wrestling with student requests for what are known as “trigger warnings,” explicit alerts that the material they are about to read or see in a classroom might upset them or, as some students assert, cause symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in … We know that avoidance can perpetuate the various types of distress that can come in the wake of trauma. Acknowledging both that everybody has triggers and traumas. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. In order for this to happen, students must be challenged. The debate over so-called “trigger warnings” continues to simmer, boiling over in the media every month or so. Those strategies generally work best when the trigger is expected and can be prepared for in advance of the encounter. If you establish sufficient trust with your students, and make clear to them that you will do your best to supply any requested trigger warnings, you can provide personalized notices about any material that may be triggering for them. Instead of focusing on what to do (e.g. Is it one unitary thing, or might it be many things collapsed together, meaning that the ‘pro’ and ‘anti’ people are often referring to slightly – or totally – different things (we see this, for example, when anti porn feminists focus on the most aggressive examples of mainstream porn, and sex positive feminists focus on alternative and/or ethical porn). Critics of trigger warnings have pointed out another way in which trigger warnings can close things down for individuals. Making trigger/content warnings part of a wider move towards cultures of consent, and acknowledgement of imperfection and vulnerability, rather than seeing them as any kind of singular quick fix solution. Finally it is important to think carefully about this risk of ‘fragmentation’ in communities. A trigger can even be a language, an accent, or the lilt of someone's voice. Making clear that content/trigger warnings are about giving people the opportunity to consider when and how they engage with material, rather than encouraging them to avoid anything potentially painful or difficult. Maybe some of the rage in the anti trigger warning articles comes from a sense of having been silent for too long about something that has caused great distress. Below are some ways of implementing content warnings that you might consider: Blanket Warnings: If most of the material in the course is going to include emotionally challenging and potentially triggering content, you can include a warning as part of your course description. : If, for whatever reason, you’d rather not include tags on your syllabus, you can supply a supplemental document, hosted on your course Canvas site or website or attached to an email for students to access or not as they wish. One risk is that, if taken too rigidly, we start to divide the world in binary ways between the powerful people who get to give trigger warnings, and the powerless victims who require them. This tumblr is meant to provide a handy list of triggers and shows/films that might include those triggers for anyone who wants … The neo-Liberal rhetoric of harm, danger and trauma, Scott Alexander: The wonderful thing about triggers. The idea is that, if we provide people with a brief overview of the kinds of topics and issues they are going to be confronted with (in a novel, a movie, a lecture, or a workshop, for example), then they can make an informed decision about whether they wish to engage with it or not. Trigger Warnings In College Appear Common, NPR Survey Finds : NPR Ed Giving a heads-up about potentially objectionable content seems to be common teaching practice. Whilst obviously real life is sometimes going to confront us with unexpected triggers, it seems cruel to use that as justification to ignore the strong possibility of triggering somebody in the particularly exposing context of a lecture hall or other public venue if our material contains likely triggers. Perhaps the trigger was a fleeting mention and you feel frustrated that you were expected to remember such a minor detail. Trigger warnings may do more harm than good. I’ve been struck that most of the articles and blog posts that I have seen on this topic have taken a stance for or against trigger warnings, often presenting an impassioned argument in favour of providing trigger warnings or virulent opposition to the practice. While there has been much debate over the implementation of content warnings in the classroom, the debate stems primarily from a misunderstanding regarding what content warnings are, how their use can make a classroom more inclusive for students with mental health disabilities, and how they do or don’t impact instructor liability. Perhaps this is why it has become such a hot topic of late, as it enables people to start talking about a whole load of issues that have been bubbling under the surface in many communities for a long time now, and which people have felt scared to speak out about for fear of being called-out and piled-upon for doing so. Learn how your comment data is processed. Sofie Karasek is the director of education and co-founder of End Rape On Campus. So instead it is helpful to ask ourselves what it has the potential to open up, and what it risks closing down. That content might include graphic references to topics such as sexual abuse, self-harm, violence, eating disorders, and so on, and can take the form of an image, video clip, audio clip, or piece of text. This line-drawing gets even more complex when we remember how dependent such things are on personal meaning: what traumatises one person is not what traumatises another. The phrase ‘hurt people hurt people’ is a useful one for capturing the ways in which we so often bump up against each other when we ourselves are struggling, in ways that bruise others and leave them more defensive and prone to bumping into others too. A tumblr for trigger warnings. Many feel defensive and resistant to the inclusion of content warnings, feeling as though it puts restrictions on the instructor and coddles the students. These frustrations could lead to defensiveness, which is normal, but not especially useful to you or your student. Perhaps an answer here is to weave together a culture of trigger warnings with a culture of recognising the inevitability of making mistakes. These notices flag the contents of the material that follows, so readers, listeners, or viewers can prepare themselves to adequately engage or, if necessary, disengage for their own wellbeing. I will flag especially graphic or intense content that discusses or represents racism and will do my best to make this classroom a space where we can engage bravely, empathetically and thoughtfully with difficult content every week. Not all people are as free as others, and one key limit on our freedom are the scars left by experiences of discrimination and oppression. As I’ve said elsewhere, in our communities we have generally all had times when we’ve been abused or oppressed by others, as well as times when we – ourselves – have been accused of abuse or oppression. FIRE has repeatedly counseled caution about the use of “trigger warnings” on college campuses. The name is self explanatory, trigger warnings are usually a singular statement at the beginning of an article, a video, a show, or whatever the case may be, to warn the potential viewer that the following content may trigger the individual if they have gone through a specific traumatic event. This often results in newer members of communities feeling unable to speak up and in people withdrawing from movements from fear of this happening to them. But as with everything different peoples mileage may vary. For many on the ‘anti’ side, the ‘pro’ articles read like yet more whining from people who seem to think they deserve special treatment. Some of the links provided in this resource include more information on these debates. They might include forewarnings of challenging moments in texts they will read for class, material that will be covered in lecture, videos viewed in class, and topics that the instructor expects will come up in class discussion (read the section below on implementing content warnings for more on this). Study: Professors Worry About Trigger Warnings. Bisexual and trans activists are often shouted down for ‘fragmenting’ LGBT movements when pointing out their relative invisibility, or questioning whether issues like same-sex marriage should be the priority. The actual triggering content might be below the warning or hidden in some way requiring readers to click through. Avoid putting students on the spot if they look distant, distressed, or choose to leave the room. 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