A new study published in the journal PLOS ONE has found that students with trauma are not more likely to be triggered when reading potentially disturbing content. This is good news for educators who want to use controversial or difficult material in the classroom, as it suggests that such students can engage with the material without experiencing negative consequences. The study, conducted by a team of researchers at the University of Göttingen in Germany, looked at a group of undergraduate students who had self-reported experiences of trauma. The students were asked to read passages from three different texts: one that was potentially triggering, one that was moderately distressing, and one that was not distressing. The findings showed that the students who had experienced trauma were not more likely to be triggered by the potentially triggering text than the other students. This suggests that they are able to engage with such material without experiencing negative consequences.
What is trauma?
When we think of trauma, we often think of a single, life-altering event: a car accident, a natural disaster, a violent attack. But trauma can also be the cumulative effect of multiple stressful events over time, especially if they are not adequately addressed. It is this cumulative effect that can make it difficult for individuals to cope with potentially disturbing content in the classroom.
Trauma is not simply an event that happened to someone in the past; it is also a reaction to that event. Trauma can cause physical changes in the body as well as changes in thoughts, emotions, and behavior. When people experience trauma, they may feel scared, helpless, or alone. They may have difficulty trusting other people or feeling safe in the world. They may also experience physical symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches, or trouble sleeping.
While it is important to acknowledge and validate these reactions, it is also important to remember that individuals who have experienced trauma are not more likely to be triggered by potentially disturbing content in the classroom. In fact, many individuals who have experienced trauma find educational settings to be safe havens where they can learn and grow. With the support of caring adults and peers, students who have experienced trauma can thrive in school and go on to lead successful lives.
What is potentially disturbing content?
Potentially disturbing content is any content that may cause someone to feel upset or uncomfortable. This can include topics like violence, death, blood, gore, and sexual assault. While some people may be more sensitive to potentially disturbing content than others, everyone has the potential to be affected by it.
When it comes to students who have experienced trauma, there is no evidence to suggest that they are more likely to be triggered when reading potentially disturbing content. In fact, many experts believe that exposure to potentially distressing material can actually help people who have been through traumatic events cope with their experiences.
If you do come across potentially disturbing content, it’s important to take care of yourself both mentally and emotionally. This means taking breaks as needed, avoiding excessive exposure to the material, and seeking professional help if you find yourself struggling to cope.
How can students with trauma be triggered when reading potentially disturbing content?
Some students who have experienced trauma may be triggered when reading potentially disturbing content. This can happen if the content reminds them of their own experiences or if it is simply too graphic for them to handle. If you are a student who has experienced trauma, it is important to be aware of what might trigger you and to have a plan in place for how to deal with it if you do become triggered. If you are reading something that you know might be triggering, try to have a support system in place that you can reach out to if you start to feel overwhelmed.
What are some strategies for dealing with this issue?
Some strategies for dealing with this issue include:
1. Warning students in advance about potentially disturbing content. This allows them to mentally prepare themselves and choose whether or not they want to read the material.
2. Encouraging students to take breaks while reading and to process the material afterwards with a trusted adult or counselor.
3. Offering alternative assignments for students who do not feel ready to read the assigned material.
4. Checking in with students regularly to see how they are doing and providing support as needed.
This study provides evidence that students with trauma are not more likely to be triggered when reading potentially disturbing content. This is an important finding, as it challenges the common belief that exposure to potentially triggering material will always lead to negative outcomes for trauma survivors. Instead, this research suggests that students can handle potentially upsetting material in a classroom setting, as long as they are given the opportunity to process it in a safe and supportive environment.