“We are all wearing masks. That is what makes us interesting” – Neil Gaiman You might be surprised by the number of students that are victims of a violent crime. “Almost one of every three all rape victims develop PTSD sometime during their lives “according to a Women’s Study that is on the U.S Department of Veterans Affair. Having a trigger warning when talking about sensitive subjects could at least give a warning for what is to come without blind sighting the person. Many people think that having trigger warnings is unnecessary and that everyone just needs to learn to stop being so sensitive. Being a student myself, I am not saying that there should be a warning on everything because yes, having a trigger warning on everything would be ridiculous but there is a line between a regular topic and a topic that is going to make people uncomfortable.
Suicide, the 11th leading cause of death in the U. S, may come up in an academic setting. To some people that do not care about it, will talk freely about it regardless if it has affected them or not. A trigger warning can make everyone aware that it might affect someone in the room and to be cautious of what is said. I have firsthand knowledge on a topic such as this due to someone that I knew. If I was in a classroom, I wouldn’t want the warning so that I could mentally prepare myself or ask to be dismissed from class. I would want the warning so that other people in the room would be aware of who this conversation may affect. I don’t want to be around the people who aren’t knowledgeable in the topic and running their mouth and offending / bad mouthing something that they don’t know. Leah Block knows about this on a personal level when she had to deal with people unknowingly talk about her experiences.
“I had to relive my own struggle with suicidal thoughts, and I had to suffer the discomfort of hearing other people explain away my problems as if they had to suffer the discomfort of hearing other people explain away my problems as if they had authority over my emotions.” (Block).
People don’t realize or understand what it’s like to be in a position like that. Even I don’t know how it feels but at least I can try to help by wanting trigger warnings so something like that doesn’t happen. What is so harmful about a professor putting in the syllabus and saying in the class before “We will be talking about the sensitive subject of (uncomfortable topic), email me with questions or comments”. No harm no foul and it would allow students to cope with the material instead of it being sprung on them.
People who believe that this bombard on free speech is going to suppress the ideas of the young minds who want to openly debate but that isn’t the case. A warning isn’t stopping something from happening or stopping a debate to be discussed, a warning is to WARN what is about to happen or be discussed. “The National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence (2015) indicates that more than 60 percent of children from birth to 17 years’ experience victimization and that 38 percent witness violence sometime during childhood.” (Sturgis). A trigger warning is to avoid triggering someone’s past and it only seems right to warn those with a traumatic past so those memories aren’t all flooding in all at once.
Aaron R. Hanlon, a professor who wrote “My Students Need Trigger Warnings – and Professors Do, too”, discussed his own dealings in teaching and why he uses trigger warnings. “But so long as we’re happy to evangelize about the truly disruptive and real life- changing possibilities of our subject matter, we also need to be prepared to teach that difficult and sometimes disorienting material responsibly and attentively, not just to cast out barbs of hardcore human expression while we watch our students puzzle and weep.” (Hanlon) Here is a professor who gets it. Why do we have to make it difficult for people when ALL YOU HAVE TO DO is put a small WARNING blurb in the syllabus.. “ Requests for safe spaces or trigger warnings are not about hiding from ideas but about finding ways to engage without disturbing the people most directly effected.” ( Byron). No one wants to walk into the classroom and hear “Morning class! Today’s topic will be about Rape and sexual violence. Let’s get started!” A survivor of this would be in so much shock that they could possibly go into a panic attack. “One in six students has been diagnosed with anxiety, surpassing cases of depression, according to the Center for Collegiate Mental Health” (Sturgis). Panic attacks can be avoided.
Having an uncomfortable conversation and speaking your mind without knowing that someone in the room could have gone though that traumatic event can be avoided with just a few simple words of warning. I realize that some may think that trigger warnings are weakening the minds of society but if one thinks about the research that has been done with all the people in the world that has been affected with certain sensitive subjects, how is it supposedly weakening the minds? It is to help warn people about the topic. It isn’t there to stop the subject topic or make it a get out of jail free card just as an excuse. Why should we make people feel uncomfortable? There is no point.
Block, Leah. “ In Favor of Trigger Warnings in College Debate.” Chronicle of Higher Education, Vol. 62 no. 25. 4. Mar. 2016 http://web.a.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail/detail?sid=9177a41e-d80d-4ff9-a87e-2d0413136a45%40sessionmgr4007&vid=0&hid=4104&bdata=JnNjb3BlPXNpdGU%3d#AN=113401898&db=a9h
Byron, Katie. “Millennials Are Creating a More Inclusive and Just World.” The New York Times, Room for Debate. 21, Dec. 2015 http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2015/11/02/when-a-generation-becomes-less-tolerant-of-free-speech/millennials-are-creating-a-more-inclusive-and-just-world
Hanlon, Aaron R. “ My Students Need Trigger Warnings – and Professors Do, Too.” New Republic. 17, May. 2015 https://newrepublic.com/article/121820/my-students-need-trigger-warnings-and-professors-do-too
Sturgis, Ingrid. “ Warning: This Lesson May Upset You.” Chronicle of Higher Education. 18, Mar. 2016 http://web.a.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail/detail?sid=198856fd-400f-4979-8a4d-20982f9c65d0%40sessionmgr4008&vid=0&hid=4104&bdata=JnNjb3BlPXNpdGU%3d#AN=113878740&db=a9h
“PTSD: National Center for PTSD.” Sexual Assault Against Females – PTSD: National Center for PTSD. U.S Department of Veterans Affairs, n.d. Web. 08 Dec. 2016. http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/PTSD-overview/women/sexual-assault-females.asp