Whether joining the high school debate team or participating in topical discussions in class, debating current topics is an excellent way to develop speaking skills and build confidence. Debating helps you discover more about your views, think on your feet, and learn how to take a stand on issues. To prepare, consider this list of good debate topics for high school students.
Social Debate Topics for Teens
Whether it's the welfare system, sex education, or gay marriage, you can find different debate topics to relay your social consciousness.
- Should welfare recipients be required to take drug tests?
- Should there be a time limit on SNAP food benefits offered by the federal government?
- Should SNAP benefits be available at a broader range of healthy stores? Should they limit the availability of "bad foods" like soda and candy?
- Is Black Lives Matter highlighting the need for more civil rights enforcement or creating more of a social divide?
- Historically, adoption is a very difficult process. Should the government or private agencies be allowed to turn away loving, capable parents when so many children need permanent homes?
- Should parents allow teens to fill their calendars with activities, or is it their job to impose limits on time spent outside school and home? Which activities should take precedence, and is society expecting too much of adolescents?
- According to research, teens have accepted a culture of sexual experiences as casual and full of immediately gratifying experiences. What are the ramifications of this flippant take on sexual experiences? Is the modern teen's attitude on sex reflected in current sex education? Should it be?
- Do schools have a responsibility and right to encourage specific attitudes, such as abstinence, toward sexual encounters, or should this be a family issue?
Controversial Debate Topics for Teens About Ethics
You can't think about social topics without thinking about ethics. Tackle one of these ethical topics in your next debate.
- Is peer pressure different for girls and boys?
- Should animals be kept in a zoo?
- Does the government have the right to regulate abortion?
- Do violent video games lead to violence in real life?
- Is the death penalty a form of cruel and unusual punishment? Should it be banned?
- Is it ethical to allow human euthanization?
- Should we be allowed to use animals for food?
- Is plastic surgery creating unattainable ideals and hurting society?
Health and Health Care Related Topics for Teen Debates
You can find a lot of different health-related topics to use for your debate. You might also try adding current events to your argument by opting for a COVID-19 debate topic for students.
- Should marijuana be legal for medical and recreational use in all states?
- Do quarantine and social distance help limit the spread of viruses like COVID?
- Should alternative medicine be used alongside mainstream medicine for severe diseases like cancer?
- Should the government offer healthcare paid for with tax dollars?
- Is medical research on animals justified?
- Should COVID vaccines be mandated?
- Has COVID-19 highlighted a flaw in the global response to pandemics?
- Should the government mandate any vaccine?
Political and Controversial Debate Topics
Controversial and political topics are great choices if you are looking for hard-hitting and impactful debate topics. Not only are there several topics, but research on both sides is vast. Delve into current events for teens and see what you can find.
- Should citizens be able to own and carry guns in modern society?
- Should guns be more highly regulated?
- To help gain information from terrorists, the U.S. government uses various forms of torture, including waterboarding. Are these methods of gaining information humane? Is waterboarding a form of cruel and unusual punishment?
- Should the United States increase off-shore drilling to help ease the rise in gas prices?
- Should the United States implement more policies to prevent and punish people who enter illegally, or should the immigration policies be more lenient? Furthermore, who is considered an illegal immigrant?
- Should the practice of fracking be banned?
- Research suggests that a large percentage of Americans get their news online from social media outlets. Given their wide influence, should social apps and websites have a responsibility to thwart fake news?
- Websites like Google and Facebook have taken actions to help consumers spot fake news and remove sites or users peddling misinformation. Are they doing enough, and is it their job to 'police' the information shared on their sites?
- Should transgender individuals be forced to use the bathrooms for their birth-assigned gender?
- Should transgender people be allowed to participate in sports that align with their current gender?
Exciting Topics About Rules and Laws for Teens
Dive further into government debate ideas by looking at rules and legislation. Teens can have a field day with these debate topics.
- Should the voting age be lowered?
- Should the draft be required for everyone?
- Should the drinking age be lowered to the adult age?
- Should the adult age be increased to the drinking age?
- Is detention an acceptable form of punishment for breaking the rules?
- Should underaged teens be allowed to go to nightclubs to dance?
- Is drone fighting the new age of warfare?
- Should minors get a harsher penalty for committing a serious crime?
- Should the driving age be raised or lowered?
- Should all officers be made to wear cameras when out on patrol?
- How can mass shootings be avoided? Should the government provide stricter gun control or more support for mental illness?
Science Debate Topics for High Schoolers
Science is changing the world. Get in on the debate by looking at one of these science topics.
- Is stem cell research ethical? Does the greater good outweigh the taking of a future life?
- Scientists have cloned sheep, mice, dogs, and other life forms, but they have yet to clone humans. Should humans be cloned?
- Should smoking cigarettes be banned in public places? Is secondhand smoke as big of a risk as we have been led to believe?
- Should vaping be treated like smoking? Is vaping equal to smoking?
- Does climate change exist, and how does it affect the world?
- While SIRI and self-driving cars are helpful, is having too much reliance on artificial intelligence a bad thing? Does the benefit outweigh the risk?
- Are the concerns Elon Musk and Bill Gates have voiced about AI risks valid?
- What, if any, are the health and environmental benefits of eating organic foods? Do the nutrition and safety benefits outweigh the extra cost?
- Is eating organic just a fad that has been capitalized upon, or does it offer a real solution to problems like obesity and contaminated food products?
- Does technology make people lazy? Is technology doing more harm than good or the other way around?
- Should caffeine be treated as a drug? Does the government have a responsibility to limit the ability of children to buy products containing caffeine, or is this a parental decision?
- Should renewable and reusable energy replace all non-renewable sources?
- How should people go about limiting their carbon footprint? Is it essential to limit your carbon footprint?
- Will the earth's warming and pollution destroy the earth in the future?
Educational Debate Topics for Teens to Dive Into
Want an impactful debate topic that is relevant to your fellow students? Look at educational debate topics that are trending.
- Schools typically block inappropriate websites and websites that are not educational. Should schools limit what students are allowed to access? Is blocking content effective, or will students try to find a way to get around it and see what they are missing?
- Do school uniforms help student performance?
- Should cell phones be banned in schools?
- If cell phone use is to be limited in schools, what measures are appropriate for schools to take in enforcing these rules?
- Can one test or a series of standardized tests determine how bright a student is or how well a school is doing?
- Is year-round school a good option? Is there evidence to suggest that year-round programs work better than a standard school year?
- Is free tuition for all to college plausible and helpful to society?
- Is homework doing more harm than good for students? Is there enough evidence to show that homework is harmful to students?
- Have school vouchers been proven successful, and how do they affect the rest of society?
- Should parents be able to decide where to send their students to school using school vouchers?
- Should state education funding be used at each parent's discretion, or should parents choosing private schools have to pay for their choice?
- Should school start later in the day?
- Should sports teams be based on talent? Should everyone make the sports team?
- Is the current grading system used in America outdated?
Entertainment Debate Topics for Teens to Try
From beauty pageants to violent video games, the entertainment industry is rife with various controversial and hard-hitting topics that will surely resonate with high schoolers.
- Do television and music have that great of an influence on teens? Are there specific types of shows and songs that are more impactful than others?
- Was the Will Smith slapping incident handled correctly? Are Hollywood actors held to the same standards as other individuals?
- Should video game creators be required to follow specific regulations regarding what can or can't be seen in a game? Whose job is it to regulate video games? Parents or game-makers?
- Should beauty pageants be legal? Are there specific types of pageants that do more harm than others? Should little kids be part of beauty pageants?
- Should cell phones be used when driving? Do laws against cell phone use while driving infringe on personal rights?
- Professional athletes and A-list celebrities get paid millions of dollars. Do they deserve to get paid as much as they do?
- Thanks to social media platforms like YouTube, anyone and everyone can become famous for almost anything imaginable. Should video-sharing apps and sites include boundaries for the sake of society's greater good?
- How does social media affect relationships with people? Is it helpful or harmful?
- Are Mac computers better than PC or vice versa?
- Should cryptocurrency replace other forms of currency?
Debate Topics About Parenting and Family for High Schoolers
Nothing is more fun than exploring your parents and family in your debate. Teens can have a lot of different opinions about the following topics.
- Should parents assign all siblings the same chores?
- Are parents responsible if a child causes injury to someone else?
- Should all teenagers be required to have a job and contribute to the family?
- Should teenagers be able to go on vacation without parental supervision?
- Should parents regulate a child/teen's social media?
- Should a parent be allowed to make a child attend church?
- Why is it essential for every home to have a pet?
- Is it a violation of privacy for a parent to enter a child's room without permission?
- Should parents have to attend parenting classes before having children?
- Should the parents or children be held responsible for child bullying?
Fun Debate Topics for High Schoolers
Not all debate topics need to be serious and weighty. Have a bit of fun with your debate by trying out some of these lighter topics.
- What came first, the chicken or the egg?
- Which season is the best? Why?
- Would it be a good thing to be immortal?
- Would it be better to be able to fly or read minds?
- Is pizza the best food?
- Should people have a cat or a dog?
- Would you rather travel to the future or the past?
- Do aliens exist?
- Should teens be allowed to get tattoos?
Good Debate Topics for High School Students
Whatever topic you choose to debate, make sure it is something you can form an argument for or against. The more passionate you are about a topic, the better the debate will be. It's also great practice to debate for the opposing side of a topic or opinion you hold dear, which will help you learn even more about views that differ from your own.