Should Trigger Warnings Be Used in Colleges?

Should Trigger Warnings Be Used in Colleges?

Over 60 percent of college dropout cases are caused by mental health issues such as trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (Holmes 3). Such statistics fuel the debate on whether trigger warnings should be used in colleges to safeguard the students’ psychological wellbeing. Trigger warnings refer to alerts issued by instructors to notify the students that some content in a course may provoke a strong emotional response. The idea to protect students originated from the1960s to the 1990s, when a rise in crime made parents increasingly protective of their children. These children grew up in an environment in which they were taught that life is dangerous, and they must be protected from harm. As a result, college students desire protection and are hostile towards those who hold opposing views. There is an upsurge in mental health cases among young adults, and many students are experiencing increased emotional crises. Trigger warnings have been introduced as a remedy to protect these students from emotional harm. There is an ongoing controversy on whether trigger warnings should be used in colleges. Supporters of trigger warnings assert that they help create safe spaces to protect people with traumatic pasts, while opponents argue that such measures are overprotective and harmful to the students. Colleges should not use trigger warnings because they undermine the goal of education of fostering critical thinking, violate the constitutional right of freedom of speech, and are ineffective in dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder. Trigger warnings discourage students from thinking critically about various issues in society. Therefore, colleges should avoid the use of trigger warnings as they undermine the goal of education, which is to encourage students to think critically. The idea that students should be taught how rather than what to think originates from Socrates. In modern times, “the Socratic method is a way of teaching that fosters critical thinking, in part by encouraging students to question their own unexamined beliefs, as well as the wisdom of those around them” (The Atlantic 2).


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