Top 150 Controversial Topics for Teenagers
The topics below are controversial and may be triggering for some people. Please read with caution.
As a teenager, it is important to learn about current events so you can become an informed citizen of the world. However, because of the nature of these topics, they are often difficult to talk about in school or even at home with your parents or siblings. This is why we bring them up here – without any spoilers! From recent world events like the refugee crisis and the Syrian Civil War to more personal issues like divorce and depression, this list will give you a starting point for learning about some pretty hefty subjects considered controversial for teenagers.
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Controversial Debate Topics for High School Students
- Is the role of media to inform or to entertain?
- Are parental expectations too high for a child’s academic performance?
- Should we make more of an effort in conserving endangered species of animals?
- Scientists should be free to conduct experiments that might kill humans.
- Should slaughterhouses implement strict guidelines on animal welfare?
- Should we use genetically modified animals for human consumption?
- Should women be able to serve in the army and marines?
- Boys are academically better than girls.
- Life on Earth came from a meteorite.
- Atheists should not hold public office.
- Gender roles are created by society as a method of control.
- Should children be allowed to have their ears pierced?
- Can social media affect the educational performance of teenagers?
- Football is better than soccer.
- Is everyone right in thinking that they are always right?
- Should abortion be legal up to 24 weeks into pregnancy?
- Immigrants should be deported if they cannot successfully integrate into the host country’s culture.
- Should psychiatric patients be required to undergo sterilization operations?
- The use of ethnic profiling in law enforcement is acceptable.
- Should gender-neutral bathrooms be mandatory in all public places?
- Parents should play an active role in children’s education at home.
- Should teachers wear uniforms?
- Are adults right when they say that teenagers are too impulsive and irrational?
- Are adults right when they say that teenagers are too emotionally reliant on their family and friends?
- Should corporal punishment be reintroduced to schools?
- Why is there no cure for Aids yet?
- Cloning human organs to save lives seems like a good idea.
- Because of the benefits of stem cell research, using embryos to harvest them should be considered ethical and morally acceptable.
- What will happen if we run out of fossil fuels?
- Do you trust genetically modified products sold at supermarkets?
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Controversial Debate Topics for Middle School Teenager Students
- Parents should have to approve all their child’s Facebook posts.
- Homework is more valuable than harmful.
- Apathy in voting leads to a dictatorship in government.
- Schools should give students better equipment and resources for extracurricular activities.
- Education standards across the country should be consistent with each other.
- Middle school student uniforms are seen as beneficial for maintaining discipline in schools.
- Non-violent protests can create better change than violence can cause.
- All students should be required to maintain a cell phone during middle school years so that parents know where they are at all times.
- Food served at school cafeterias should be healthy.
- The school system in the United States should be scrapped and replaced with a completely different system.
- Textbooks are more useful than harmful.
- The death penalty is an effective way to combat crime.
- Most teenagers should not be allowed to have jobs during their high school years.
- Students should not be obligated to bring backpacks or accessories that contain any brand-name logos on them.
- Couples in school should be allowed to have their desks when working on projects together.
- All students should be required to keep a journal.
- Schools should have a dress code that everyone must follow.
- The United States should end its involvement in the War on Terror.
- It is sometimes right for citizens to carry concealed weapons.
- Teachers should be able to give students detention if they are not in proper attire for school.
- Schools should not offer AP (Advanced Placement) courses because it disadvantages students who cannot afford the extra expense of those classes.
- Regional schools are better for education than national ones.
- Dress codes in schools protect students’ morals and values.
- It is wrong for teenagers to spend most of their time on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
- Schools should have a dress code that prohibits short skirts, which could reveal inappropriate clothing underneath them.
- Adolescents should be encouraged to make life-long friends while attending middle school.
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Controversial Topics for College Students
- How much power should the government have over citizens’ personal lives?
- Are guns an important part of American society, or do they contribute to violent crime and murder, which is why we should ban them altogether?
- Do women have equal rights as men in American society today or are they still viewed as second-rate citizens by many people?
- How important is it to look good? Do you carefully choose the clothes that you wear every day and do your hair and makeup? Or do you throw on whatever is clean without giving a second thought about what others think of how you look?
- Which country, the U.S or Russia, should be viewed as the primary enemy in today’s world: Why?
- Do we have a moral obligation to help our fellow citizens who are less fortunate than most of us: for example, by providing free medical care or food stamps for poor people? Or do we have an obligation only to take care of ourselves through hard work, thriftiness, and self-sufficiency?
- What makes a marriage successful? Is it love between two people or something else?
- Are we living in a free country or a nation where the government decides what’s best for all of us?
- Should voters choose our leaders, or should they be experts, who are different from ordinary citizens, in deciding how to run the country?
- Is human life of less importance than the needs and rights of animals?
- Do we have a moral obligation to help poor people, or do we owe them nothing because they did not work hard enough to live their lives and provide for themselves?
- Are some races better than others? Which races make up America’s best people, and which ones make up America’s worst people? Why or why not?
- What makes a person or thing valuable: Is it because of the number of people who own it? Or if an item has been made by experts in a factory, or simply that a few people wanted to possess them and so they are expensive. Do you think there will be any new “valuable” items in the future?
- Is it important to know about your family history?
- Are teacher’s unions good for students? Should teachers have more say in how to run schools, or should administrators have more control?
- Terrible things are happening worldwide, but why is it that only some of them receive a lot of attention? Shouldn’t we care about everything that is happening around us? Why is it so much easier for us to notice the bad things than pay attention to the good ones?
- What is wrong with people today? Do you agree with anyone who says: “People were better in previous generations,’ or ‘people just don’t care anymore.”
- Should we try to save as many endangered species as possible (for example, animals like elephants and tigers) even if doing so makes grocery products cost almost twice as much as their regular prices?
- What makes someone or something deserve to be recognized (for example, an influential government leader, a famous artist or athlete, the wealthiest businessman)? What do you think would make you truly deserving of recognition?
- Is it right for the government to try to stop businesses from polluting our environment even if it costs more energy to produce goods and services than before? Is it possible to have our environment cleaned up without increasing prices to pay people who clean our streets, rivers, and parks?
- How important is family when choosing your future life partner? Do you agree with anyone who says, “if he/she really loves me, I don’t need family’s approval before getting married?” Do you think men are as committed to keeping their family values as women are?
- Should we have open borders where anyone can come into our country because they are poor and has few opportunities elsewhere, even if this means that the character of our country would change?
- Should we limit how many people can enter our country each year because they are poor, or do you think America should be open to everyone who wants to come here even if it puts a burden on the economy and society? What about deciding which poor people get into our country? Should government officials decide it, or should it depend more on whether immigrants are relatives of American citizens?
- Should there be laws punishing people for being mean and insulting in public (for example, yelling at children just because the parents could not control their kids’ bad behaviour)? Do you agree with anyone who says, “the world I live in is always getting worse day by day”
- If someone told you they had witnessed a crime in public or during some important event (a football match, your job interview) and reported it to the police but later it turned out that they were lying would you consider them as fools? What if the lie resulted in wasting time from emergency services? What if their lies make others insult other innocent people? Do you think there should be punishment for such behaviour? If so, do you think this punishment should include fines, community service, or prison terms?
- Why are some crimes considered more severe than others? For example, murder is considered worse than stealing an item worth 2000 $. Is it because of how many people these crimes affect directly? Is it because of how much money they cost? Is it because of the severity of these crimes? For example, murder could be considered worse than stealing sunglasses worth 50$. Do you agree with anyone who says, “prison terms should be seven years for stealing a pair of sunglasses and life sentence if killing someone?
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Controversial Topics for Teenagers about Religion
- Does God exist?
- Is there any scientific evidence for religion?
- Do religions promote peace and equality?
- Religion has a lot of influence on the world we live in.
- Children should not be encouraged to mix religion and politics.
- Does religious education distort young people’s views of other faiths?
- Should we teach religious values at school, and why?
- Can religious ideas help to inspire young people?
- Religious education is needed for children to understand the views of other religions.
- Whether you are religious or not, we should all be tolerant of different faiths and beliefs.
- If a human can survive without faith, we are entitled to feel sympathy for religious organizations and their place in society.
- Should sex education be taught in religious schools?
- Should children be allowed to opt out of religious studies at school?
- Is religion good for our society?
- Do you think that all the major religions have a lot in common, or do they have many differences?
- Would you agree to your children being taught religious education at school?
- If a child needs financial aid, we should always help them, regardless of their religion or circumstance.
- Should religious organizations be allowed to provide a range of services within state schools, especially faith-based nurseries, and free schools?
- Is religion more dangerous than scientific advancements?
- What is the future of religion in Ireland?
- Some people believe that if children didn’t learn about religion at school, then they would not follow any particular faith. But others argue that it should not be a compulsory part of the curriculum. Do you agree that religion should be taught in schools?
- Should religious education become part of the formal curriculum in all European schools, or should it continue to be a subject taken by students who wish to learn more about their faith?
- Are children’s fairy stories as informative and inspiring as stories from the Bible?
- Are children’s fairy stories as informative and inspiring as stories from the Koran?
- Should two faiths be taught in schools or just one religion to avoid offending other religions?
- Secularism is having religious influence removed from state affairs. What are your views on this? Do you believe that faith should have a place in politics and if so, how much?
- Should religious leaders be allowed to campaign for political parties?
Nutrition-for-Debate Topics for Teenagers
Food is essential for our survival. We need food to provide us with energy. Food provides us with the necessary materials to build and repair body tissues.
- Does the quality of food available have an impact on a country’s economy?
- How much time and money should we spend on food preparation?
- Should child obesity be a crime? Or should schools pay more attention to health education as compared to physical education classes?
- Should fat people pay extra tax or charge higher fees when flying airplanes?
- Do you agree that governments should place a ban on fast foods in all public institutions, including restaurants, schools, etc.? Do you think there should not be any fast food shops near schools?
- Does junk food undermine family values? Or, is the greed for money more to blame for child obesity?
- Should the government invest more resources in healthy food, or should they continue to support junk foods?
- Foreign companies are having a significant impact on our lives. Do you agree that foreign owners of fast food industries undermine family values?
- Is there any way to control the quality and quantity of marketing for fast food chains?
- What is the future of the fast-food industry in Ireland? The United Kingdom, Europe, etc. ? Can it survive without showing attractive pictures of juicy burgers or cold drinks in their ads?
- Do advertising campaigns help people understand better what kind of foods are good for them? Or, do these ads just promote unhealthy foods containing too much fat and sugar?
- Should advertising campaigns for fast food chains be banned?
- Would it help to introduce a “fat tax” on companies who produce foods that contain too much fat and sugar? Or, would banning the advertising of junk foods on TV channels have a more significant impact on slowing down obesity in adults and children?
- Can nutritionists educate parents about good feminine virtues like self-discipline, patience, and a strong sense of morality? Are these feminine virtues enough to ensure a healthy lifestyle, or do these women need more support, such as delicious, low-cost meals provided by the state to encourage them?
- How much does food affect our health in general? Can it even impact the global economy and development of nations?
- Do you think fast-food chains should provide more nutritional information?
- Should fast-food chains be banned from opening near schools to help protect children’s health? If so, would this stop children from eating junk food at lunchtime?
- Does the work of nutritionists in Ireland play a critical part in protecting our health and wealth, or do they just protect their interests by being on unhealthy diets themselves?
- How important is it to set up effective measures to stop obesity among children as early as possible?
- How can we protect our children from falling into the wrong hands of fast-food chains?
- Does marketing for fast food chains have a significant impact on the health and wealth of nations?
- Do you agree that junk foods like burgers, pizzas, etc., are as addictive as drugs and alcohol?
- Should governments stop companies advertising their fast foods near schools?
- Fast-food chains are very profitable. But, in return, they make us sick and undermine both child health & school education. Do you agree that we should introduce a new GMO law to stop fast-food companies from producing unhealthy foods?
- Does overeating junk food increase the chances of getting addicted to drugs later in life?
- Do you think it is a good idea to ban burgers, pizzas, etc., in schools?
- Can advertising for fast food chains be compared with pornography?
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General Controversial Topics for Teenagers
- Does peer pressure really do more harm than good in teenagers?
- Should the mobile phones of teenagers be limited to a certain amount of usage every month?
- Should the minimum wage be increased?
- Should teaching methods be more student-centred rather than subject-centred?
- What are some of the causes which lead young teens to substance abuse? Is it peer pressure or parental negligence, or both?
- Should the electoral college be abolished?
- Should the police encourage the use of naloxone over Narcan when possible because it is easier for first responders to administer by nasal spray?
- How should a government protect itself from its people who have become radical or extremists?
- Is there such thing as “alternative” facts?
- Technology is advancing at a rate where it changes in the blink of an eye. How does this affect students’ education?
- Is censorship against freedom of speech and expression, or is it for the good of the majority? Are schools doing enough to stop bullying and harassment?
- What are some things that teenagers should be taught/often told about sex, other than just saying “sex is bad”?
- Sports are often given more attention and funding than arts. Should this trend be reversed?
- Should the government intervene in the name of gun rights? How should they do that?
- What are some issues that make students feel uncomfortable about their school or college environment? What can be done to change them?
- Birth control lessons should be introduced to young teenagers by giving out contraceptives to them.
- Controversy can be eliminated from politics if all parties are willing to compromise while discussing their viewpoints on important matters.
- Do video games encourage violence and aggressive behaviour amongst teenagers?
- Education in schools has become too focused on passing exams and acing the curriculum.
- End violence by educating people with information and facts rather than sending out troops to countries that can’t afford them.
- Is it better for teenagers to be educated at home or school?
- Should boys be encouraged to take part in activities traditionally regarded as girly such as ballet and knitting?
I hope you’ve found this list of 150 controversial topics for teenagers helpful. Keep in mind that these are just a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing and can be tailored to any audience (e.g., high school students, middle schoolers, college students). If none of the topics seemed exciting enough or interesting enough for your needs, feel free to contact us with more specifics about what you need help brainstorming on! We will then offer suggestions based on our experience working with clients like yourself who want content written specifically targeting their audiences.
Have fun debating one of these hot-button issues, and we look forward to hearing from you soon!