Desensitization in high school

How high school students are becoming careless with the new age devices and how it can be fixed


Ruthann Kimbrel

The Guardian is a UK and US newspaper that uploaded articles on mental health. They upload articles of these types to help readers identify their psychological well-being.

Ruthann Kimbrel, Staff reporter

Desensitization in teens is becoming more common, especially with the growing trends of vaping, sexual or mature content and drug abuse. One of the hundreds of teens affected by desensitization is sophomore Gavin Power. Power has had a group of friends that peer pressured him into doing things he never imagined himself doing as a teenager.

“I was afraid of the withdrawal, because that’s obviously really hard. I was just afraid of the effects it would have on me,” Power said. “I had a group of friends who were really bad influences. They had gotten me into drugs and we graffitied people’s houses, so we got arrested for it and I got eight months probation,” said Gavin.

“Because of the drug testing [police] did while I was on probation, I started vaping because it gives me the five to ten minute high I need,” Power said. “I don’t think they can detect that in their hair tests and that’s also something my friends introduced to me at the time,” said Gavin.

Mature content including language, photos, songs and television shows can also be something that everyone can become desensitized to because of the reoccuring impacts it has on neighborhoods and cities. “I don’t really think anything I say or do is derogatory or offensive and I don’t understand what being derogatory even means. I use humour my friends use but I don’t see how that’s offensive,” said Gavin.

Desensitization is becoming such a big issue, school administrators like Mrs. Shannon Harting, FHC’s emotional support counselor, is becoming involved with students who have become and can become desensitized.

“Desensitization is the psychological impact on someone after being exposed to something over and over again and can be both positive and negative,” said Harting. “It can be positive, because it helps you get over fears and phobias because you have been exposed to it so much and you expect what’s going to happen. It’s like watching a scary movie for the first time and being scared, then you watch it for the eighth time and you’re fine with the movie because you have watched it over and over again,” said Mrs. Harting.

“The negative side is that someone can begin to not see the seriousness of something like vaping or sexual content and it  can affect everyone, but it can easily affect people who can’t cope easily or who are traumatized,” said Mrs. Harting. 

It’s not only school administrators who get to help people who are desensitized to everyday things. Mrs. Cathy Lander-Goldberg is a licensed social worker specializing in depression, self-harm, grief and loss who works with adult women and adolescents and uses photography, journaling and art to help her clients cope.

“The art, journaling and photography aspect of my counselling really helps my clients overcome their phobias and fears, which is the positive form of desensitization,” said Mrs. Lander-Goldberg. “It helps them and their brains unlock the process of how to overcome the phobias and fears they may have about depression, self-harm or why ever they’ve come to see me,” said Mrs. Lander-Goldberg.

“The type of desensitization they are going through is positive desensitization because they have something they can do to help fight off those fears using certain coping mechanisms like painting or journaling unlike those people who turn to drugs and alcohol as a way to say ‘this is normal because everyone I know does it so it’s okay if I do it’; that’s negative desensitization,” said Mrs. Lander-Goldberg.

“It takes a while to get rid of fears and phobias that’s why there’s a process our mind goes through and to write things down and paint and photograph how our mind is thinking at a certain point in time is important because you can see the progress your mind makes overtime with a certain fear or phobia,” said Mrs. Lander-Goldberg.

“A painting can go from a fully dark canvas with creepy crawlies to a bright summer day or a photo can go from a shadow in a lit doorway to a person with bright flowers and a large smile,” said Mrs. Lander-Goldberg.

“Women I think tend to be affected by their fears because of societal standards for them. You can look at the Kardashian-Jenners per se and say ‘oh they look great for women who have had children so why don’t I look like that?’ and if they’ve been abused it’s even worse,” said Mrs. Lander-Goldberg.

“The adolescents I work with visit me because of their past experiences with abuse, rape and neglect that have lead to depression, anxiety and so on,” said Mrs. Lander-Goldberg.

“People who can’t come to me because they don’t have the money or the time to make a visit, they need to go see a therapist, talk to their parents if they’re an adolescent and go to a counsellor at school if they’re an adolescent or college aged student because their mental health is important and we don’t need any more suicides among the population.” said Mrs. Lander-Goldberg.