World

UK City Council Issues Trigger Warnings Over Guy Fawkes Night

The Kensington and Chelsea Council in the U.K. has issued a warning to local schools about how Guy Fawkes Night has the potential to cause emotional trauma to students who may be affected by the burning of Grenfell Towers, the BBC reports.

As with the experiences of military veterans and sexual abuse survivors, this may be one of the few instances in the media when trigger warnings and concerns over PTSD have absolute validity.

Every year, people in Britain celebrate Guy Fawkes Night on November 5 to commemorate the failure of the “Gunpowder Plot” in 1605 to destroy the House of Lords by a group of provincial English Catholics and restore a Catholic monarch to the throne. Guy Fawkes, a key member of the terrorist group, was arrested while guarding the explosives placed beneath the building. He was hanged, and became the face of the failed coup.

Britons commemorate the occasion by burning effigies of Fawkes and setting off fireworks. Some attendees wear the Guy Fawkes masks, made popular by the movie “V for Vendetta” and the hacktivist group, Anonymous. Others dress up in a wide variety of outfits, including pirates, Native Americans, and Catholic clergy.

Authorities worry that the sight of open fires and fireworks may cause distress to children and families who were upset by the blaze at Grenfell Towers, or were personally affected by the fire.

In June, the engulfed 24-storey apartment complex in North Kensington consumed the lives of dozens of people who were unable to get out in time. More than 40 fire engines and 200 firefighters attempted to tackle the blaze, to no avail. The death toll has become a controversial subject because many of the tower’s residents are said to have been illegal aliens, providing authorities with no way to track the missing.

The BBC states that the Kensington and Chelsea setpiece will take place yards away from where Grenfell’s survivors are staying, so they don’t have to see it. The fire department will also send out roaming teams to regulate bonfires, which have a chance of upsetting anyone who saw the Grenfell Towers burn.

“Traumatic memories can be revived by many sensations – a sight, a smell, a noise. These can trigger a response that takes a person back to the most traumatic of times,” said Emma Will of Kensington and Chelsea Council.

“We want to make sure that, if that happens, people have the support available. We are working with NHS, Hestia and our incredible schools and teachers to make sure that happens.”

Ian Miles Cheong is a journalist and outspoken media critic. You can reach him through social media at @stillgray on Twitter and on Facebook.