Controversial Topics for Teens to Debate (and How to WIN!)

Debate topics for teens can be very mild, like whether or not a hotdog is a sandwich or if Batman could beat Superman in a fight. But sometimes, debates revolve around much more controversial topics for teens. It’s not easy to discuss controversial debate topics, especially since these issues can have a direct impact on you, people you know, or the person you’re debating against.

Having said that, difficult topics and conversations are how we make progress on the toughest issues of our times. Being able to throughout understand your debate arguments, and where your opponent is coming from, and knowing the facts and nuances of the discussion are a great way to win, if you’re competing, or just to have a fruitful conversation if you’re doing this outside of a formal setting.

Listen carefully to your interlocutor’s points.Interrupt or be in a hurry to speak over them.
Come prepared with knowledge on the topic.Spend their time thinking only of what you’ll say.
Attack and criticize their ideas, not them personally.Lob personal attacks at anyone.
Keep an open mind as much as possible.Try to paint them with assumptions or prejudices you may have.
Recognize that they may know things you don’t.Be rude or condescending needlessly.
Ensure that your facts/stats/data are spot-on.Try to mislead people.
The do’s and don’ts of debating controversial topics respectfully.

Benefits of learning debate topics for teenagers:

These debate topics for teenagers will help you think critically.

Critical thinking: Being able to critically think about a topic, instead of just instantly forming an opinion, is a really useful skill that many people lack. In fact, many people who dub themselves as “critical thinkers” aren’t even employing these skills, they just like the way that it sounds.

As such, by taking time to learn to think critically, you’re putting yourself in an advantageous position over a massive swath of people, when it comes to being properly informed and being able to form strong opinions.

Different perspectives: Teenage debates aside, thinking about debate topics for teens and working through them is a fantastic way to gain a different perspective on an issue, that you may not have considered in the past.

Stronger opinions: When you’ve had to really examine both sides of an issue or an idea, then you’ll have a better understanding of it. One of the best ways to be able to defeat an idea is to understand it, to understand how someone would argue in favor of it, and then to take the time to pick apart those arguments in order to prove them wrong. Once you’ve put in this effort and done this work, you’ll have built stronger opinions for yourself to carry.

In addition to controversial topics for teens and debate ideas for teenagers, we’ll also go over some fun debate topics because this can be a good way to break the ice, or to take a serious debate and add some levity afterward with a second, fun topic of debate. but for now, let’s start off with some…

Controversial Debate Topics for Teens

Controversial debate topics for teens can cause tension, but it's good to have a productive discussion.

Here are some debate topics for friends to go back and forth with. It can be difficult to discuss controversial topics sometimes, so it really does help to go over it with a friend, someone who is going to converse or debate with you in good faith, and not try to catch you in any unfair wars. For a formal debate, you’ll want to be able to thoroughly understand both sides of these arguments, of course.

The best topics for teenage debates will really depend on the age and maturity levels of the debaters, and what the goal of the conversation/debate is, but here are some debate topic ideas to get you started.

Controversial Relationship Topics for Teens to Debate

  • Is a monogamous relationship natural?
  • Should couples keep secrets from one another?
  • Do men and women have different roles in a relationship?
  • Should couples share a bank account?
  • Is it bad for couples to argue?
  • Is the silent treatment okay?
  • Is it okay for parents to spank their children?
  • Should the government be able to take children away from their parents?
  • Can a relationship be serious if the couple isn’t living together?
  • Can a polyamourous relationship be healthy?
  • Is online dating a net positive or a net negative?
  • Is it better to meet someone in real life instead of a dating app?
  • Is it cheating to dance with someone else at a high school party?

Controversial Health Topics for Teens to Debate

  • Is obesity a mental illness?
  • Should prescription drug companies be held responsible for people who become addicted, for example, the opiod crisis in America?
  • Should be use stem cells and gene modification for medical treatments and research?
  • Should parents be able to have “designer babies,” where they can modify certain traits generitcally before the baby is born?
  • Should doctors have to treat the most vile criminals in our society?
  • Is a physical illness more or less harmful than a mental illness?
  • Does social media have a negative impact on teenagers?
  • Should people be allowed to sell their organs for medical purposes?
  • Are pharmaceutical companies morally response to make their drugs affordable for everyone?
  • Should un-proven holistic medical treatments be banned if they take precidence over proven methods?

Historical Debate Topics for Teenagers

  • Should all students learn history?
  • Should students learn the histories of other countries?
  • Is history written by the victors, or is it written by historians?
  • If we don’t study history, are we doomed to repeat it?
  • Are traditions important, even if they go against modern knowledge?

Fun Debate Topics for Teens

  • Is coffee a type of soup/broth?
  • Are hotdogs a sandwich?
  • Are waffle cones better than sugar cones?
  • Are cats or dogs the better pet?
  • Would you rather be 2 feet tall or 10 feet tall?
  • Is homework harmful?

Political Debate Topics

  • Should there be a minimum wage?
  • Should the minimum wage be the same across all of America?
  • Are two major parties enough to represent most Americans?
  • Should America intervene in other countries?
  • Why do students dropout of high school?

Financial and Money Debate Topics

Did We Miss Any Controversial Topics for Teens?

Controversial topics for teens to debate.

If there are any teenage debate topics that you wish we included, please don’t hesitate to drop us a line and to make your suggestion. I can’t promise that it will get added to the list, but it doesn’t hurt to try.

Do you want to try debating some of your points? Feel free to leave a comment, along with your stance on any of the questions that were asked on this page, because it could be a good opportunity to discuss some of these controversial topics for teens, and to learn some points to use in your debates. Just remember to keep it civil and respectful, something that is very important to be able to do when you’re doing to be learning debate topics for teens.

Mat Woods

Author Information

Mat Woods is the lead writer at He works tirelessly alongside the rest of the team to create useful, well-researched, trustworthy articles to help parents and their teens.