For or Against?: Criminal Justice and Criminology Faculty Attitudes Toward Trigger Warnings

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Since 2014, a debate has raged over trigger warnings in college courses. Proponents see trigger warnings (oral or written advance notification of course content with the potential to trigger adverse health responses, and therefore, inhibit academic performance) as supportive of students, particularly those who have experienced trauma. Critics see them as harmful to those same students, and as a threat to learning and academic freedom. Using data from a survey of criminal justice and criminology faculty (N = 791), this study found three domains of faculty attitudes, with trigger warnings as a student-centered teaching practice, an academic harm, and compromising content. Female faculty, those who had taught victimology, those in criminal justice departments, and those who identified as more liberal had more positive views of trigger warnings. Only attitudes viewing trigger warnings as a student-centered teaching practice predicted use of trigger warnings. Future research should undertake inter-disciplinary comparisons.