Debate Topics for Teens

Students going over debate topics at table.
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Teenagers are born arguers. Directing that instinct into healthy debating can help them improve their research, writing and public-speaking skills. Working in teams or individually, students will think critically and develop problem-solving skills as they present their cases. Students who can anticipate counterarguments and rebut them effectively demonstrate they have a solid understanding of how to make and support an argument. Debating helps students get ready for the world of college and careers, in which they will debate on a regular basis.

1 Wheeled Transportation suggests debating the question, “should skateboards and any look-a-like large roller-skate wheel transportation devices be prohibited on sidewalks?” Before and after school, scooters, skateboards and bikes can cause pedestrian accidents on the sidewalks near the school. On the other hand, students ride them to school to help them be on time to class. Another question to consider: If the devices are prohibited, will they be permanently confiscated?

2 Internet Privacy

Teens are online frequently. The amount of personal information they provide to marketers can lead to identity theft, among other undesirable outcomes. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 is aimed at children under the age of 13, but what regulates the information websites can gather from users under the age of 18? Should the government regulate what kinds of information websites can gather and how they can use it for those 17 and younger?

3 Single-gender Schools

Would it be better for students of the same gender to attend class together? Do students learn better in an environment made up of students of their own gender? Students can research whether or not single-gender schools make public policy sense. Ask students to consider whether they think there would be wide public support for single-sex schools. They can also find out whether one-gender schools can harm gender identity.

4 Students Grading Teachers

Another debate option is whether students should be able to grade their teachers. When it comes time for a teacher’s performance review, should test data, principal observations and student evaluations play a role in determining whether a teacher should be fired or promoted? Would students give better evaluations to easy teachers, and do they know the hallmarks of excellent teaching craft? Do students believe that they should have a voice in determining who teaches next year’s students?

Leyla Norman has been a writer since 2008 and is a certified English as a second language teacher. She also has a master's degree in development studies and a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology.