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  The Journal of Effective Teaching
an online journal devoted to teaching excellence


Journal of Effective Teaching, Vol. 16, No. 2, 2016  

Kostouros, P. (2016). Depicting the Suffering of Others. The Journal of Effective Teaching, 16(2), 47-60. [Full Text]


This article offers a discussion about the depiction of traumatic materials to post-secondary human service students. Presently there is an on-going debate about trigger warnings and whether trigger warnings are necessary prior to engaging in materials that depict the suffering of others. Perhaps after depicting graphic images some teachers have seen students become active citizens. Conversely, teachers may have also seen students who tune out, or suffer themselves from these viewings; a concept known as secondary traumatic stress. If the purpose of depicting suffering is to encourage engaged caring citizenship, potentially, depicting images of suffering may not be enough to reach that outcome. These pages will challenge the notion of trigger warnings and ask teachers to look beyond this superficial behaviour and question their practices when depicting suffering. A set of questions teachers can ask themselves is included for consideration when depicting the suffering of others.


Keywords: Trauma, depiction, trigger warnings, compassion fatigue, vicarious trauma.