100 High Quality Debate Topics for Kids in 2023

15 December 2022

Debates are a great way to teach students critical thinking and public speaking skills, while also helping them engage with current events. However, it can be challenging to find topics that are appropriate for young debaters. To help out, here are some kid-friendly debate topics that are both informative and engaging, collected and developed by the Chief Adjudicator of the Australian National Debating Championships for 2023, our coach Leah Mercier!

Looking for some engaging public speaking topics? Check out our blog on speech topics here!

 

Types of Debating Topics

Debating topics for kids can be classed into two main groups: policy debates and non-policy debates (which are often referred to as ‘empirical’ debates).

There are other types of topics – such as actor debates – but these are the two main types most students are exposed to! 

 

Policy Debates

These types of debate topics involve discussing a proposed policy, action or law. Examples include whether the government should increase taxes to fund public education, or if the minimum wage should be increased for all workers.

 

How to spot a policy debate topic

When a debate topic is written as “That we should…” or “This house would…”, it is usually a policy debate!

There are some instances where it may not include the word ‘should’ (or ‘would’), and there are also times when topics that include those words could also be non-policy topics – it’s important to do a quick sanity check whenever you receive a debate topic to ensure that it’s asking you to change the world in some way (more details on that below!).

 

What is unique about a policy debate?

In policy debates, the affirmative team proposes a change to the world through a specific plan (also known as a ‘model’). If you’re interested in learning more about how models work, you can learn plenty in the below Conquering Debating video:

 

 

It’s important to remember that, in these types of debates, the debate topic implies that the affirmative (who are usually representing the government implementing some sort of policy) have the political capital (the money, time, and resources necessary) to execute their plan. The debate should be focused on whether or not the implementation of this policy would make the world a better place.

 

Non-Policy (‘Empirical’) Debates

These types of debate topics involve making a value judgment about the world by examining facts and evidence to draw conclusions. Unlike policy debate topics, they don’t ask the affirmative to change the world in any way – instead, they ask the affirmative team to prove (comparatively) that the value statement in the topic is true, whilst the negative team attempts to prove (again comparatively) the opposite. 

Examples include determining whether books are better than movies, or whether the country is better than the city. 

The point of a non-policy debate is not to design a model or plan to change the world but to examine something that already exists and persuade the adjudicator whether the statement made in the debate topic is true or not.

Given the added complexity of these debate topics, they are more often used at a university level than at a school level (but definitely feature in many school competitions at least a few times a year). 

 

How to spot empirical debate topics

Empirical debates will always be phrased as a statement that could be proved true or false, and tend to include the word ‘is’ or ‘are’ (although, like policy topics, this isn’t always the case), such as ‘celebrities are poor role models,’ or ‘water is the best drink’ (these are both examples of a sub-type of topic called ‘value’ topics). 

 

Other times, they will be written as ‘That x is better than y’ (e.g. ‘that nuclear power is better than renewable energy,’ or ‘that dogs are better than cats’) – these are a different sub-type called ‘comparative’ topics, as whilst they do involve a value judgment, it is very clear which two things you’re comparing. 

 

Additionally, some non-policy topics in international competitions or different debating formats are written as ‘this house believes…’, ‘this house supports…’ or ‘this house regrets…’ – it is unlikely most students will be exposed to this wording, but it’s good to be aware of its existence! 

 

Debating Topic Areas

 

Debating topics for kids can also be grouped according to their Topic Area. Topic areas are used in debating to ensure that students debate lots of different subjects over the course of a competition.

 

We hope you enjoy this updated list of debating topics for kids in 2023, which we have grouped by topic area!

 

Education debating topics for kids 2023

 

Education Debating Topics for Kids 2023

 

  • That all exams should be replaced with assessment tasks.
  • That homework should be banned.
  • That electronic devices should be banned in the classroom.
  • That computer skills should be assessed by standardised testing.
  • That coaching colleges (e.g. Speaking Schools Australasia) should be banned.
  • That single-sex schools should be banned.
  • That private schools should not receive government funding.
  • That school uniforms should be banned.
  • That school classes should be grouped based on ability rather than age.
  • That all examinations should be made open-book.
  • That devices at school do more harm than good.
  • That university education should be free.
  • That religion should not be taught in schools.
  • That from Year 10 onwards, the education system should be divided into an academic stream and a vocational stream (e.g. hairdressing and plumbing).
  • That parents should financially reward their children for improving personal school results.
  • That all university students receiving professional degrees (e.g. medicine, law, veterinary studies) should be required to work in a rural area for 2 years after graduation.
  • That we should abolish the ATAR and all other student rankings.
  • That school should start later to take into account adolescent sleeping patterns.

 

Debating topics about the environment for kids 2023

 

Environment Debating Topics for Kids 2023

 

  • That we should ban single-use plastics.
  • That cars should be banned in the CBD (central business district).
  • That public transport should be free.
  • That we should introduce a carbon tax.
  • That nuclear energy is the best way to combat climate change.
  • That wind turbines should be banned in national parks.
  • That air travel should be taxed more heavily.
  • That international trade agreements should be based on environmental considerations.
  • That genetically modified food should be banned.
  • That all public buildings must meet environmental standards.
  • That countries should be required to accept climate refugees proportionate to the amount of carbon they emit.
  • That tourism should be banned in national parks.
  • That we should ban people from building new properties in areas with high risk of natural disasters.

 

Politics debating topics for kids 2023

 

Politics Debating Topics for Kids 2023

 

  • That candidates for political office should have to pass a competency test.
  • That we should introduce term limits for politicians.
  • That the voting age should be lowered to 16.
  • That there should be a quota for Indigenous representatives in parliament.
  • That there should be a 50% quota for women in parliament.
  • That voting should not be compulsory.
  • That there should be a universal basic income.
  • That the media should not report on the private lives of politicians.
  • That the government should have a quota of young politicians (under 30).
  • That politicians and their families should be required to use public services (e.g. public schools and public hospitals)

 

Economics debating topics for kids 2023

 

Economics Debating Topics for Kids 2023

 

  • That there should be a universal basic income.
  • That we should allow emergency workers to strike.
  • That we should lower the minimum working age.
  • That all year 11 and 12 students should be required to complete a volunteer position or a part-time job alongside their studies.
  • That stay-at-home parents should be paid a wage by the government.
  • That employers should be required to provide an equal amount of maternity and paternity leave.
  • That there should be a quota for women on corporate boards. people who live a healthy lifestyle (e.g. regularly exercising, not smoking, not drinking).

 

Health debating topics for kids 2023

 

Health Debating Topics for Kids 2023

 

  • That all citizens should have access to free healthcare.
  • That terminally ill patients should be allowed to trial experimental treatments before they have been approved by medical authorities.
  • That employees should be entitled to annual mental health leave in addition to existing sick leave and annual leave allowances.
  • That we should introduce a sugar tax.
  • That smoking should be banned.
  • That vaping should be banned.
  • That private healthcare should be banned
  • That all employers should be required to provide their workers with access to free exercise facilities.
  • That the government should establish and fund a separate healthcare system run exclusively by and for indigenous people.
  • That all Australians should have access to free dental care.
  • That doctors should be required to prescribe generic medications before more expensive brand-name medications.
  • That all school canteen menus should be set by government health experts.

 

Sports debating topics for kids 2023

 

Sport Debating Topics for Kids 2023

 

  • That contact sports should be banned for children under 16.
  • That we should legalise performance-enhancing drugs in international sports.
  • That we should ban alcohol advertising in sports.
  • That female and male sporting leagues should receive equal government support.
  • That we should ban specialised sports high schools.
  • That playing a team sport should be compulsory in Primary School years.
  • That the captains of national sporting teams should be elected by the community.
  • That sporting stars are paid too much.

 

Law & order debating topis for kids 2023, law and justice debating topics

 

Law & Order Debating Topics for Kids 2023

 

  • That school punishments should be decided by a group of senior students and teachers.
  • That we should suspend students that fail to report bullying.
  • That parents should be held responsible for the crimes of their children.
  • That poverty should be a defence against crimes of acquisition (such as theft and fraud).
  • That we should decriminalise vandalism.
  • That we should increase the use of restorative justice rather than punitive punishment for certain crimes.
  • That police should be required to wear body cameras while on duty.
  • That all police officers should have a minimum level of education (e.g. a degree).
  • That there should be an independent review board to investigate allegations of police brutality or misconduct.
  • That all incarcerated individuals should have the right to vote.

 

Media debating topics for kids 2023

 

Media Debating Topics for Kids 2023

 

  • That news outlets should be required to provide balanced coverage of all political candidates in the lead-up to elections.
  • That the government should introduce stricter regulations on advertising targeting children.
  • That all social media platforms should have an age limit for use (e.g. 16 or 18).
  • That television channels should be allowed to broadcast shows that contain violence, as long as they are classified correctly.
  • That all major news outlets should be required to provide accurate and unbiased coverage of major events.
  • That the government should increase funding for public broadcasting networks.
  • That streaming services should have the same content regulations as television channels (e.g. no explicit content).
  • That media organisations should have to disclose all sources of their funding.
  • That news outlets should be required to provide more diverse representations of minorities in the media.
  • That social media companies should be held accountable for regulating hate speech on their platforms.
  • That parents should have the ability to preview or restrict content their children can access online.
  • That we should introduce a tax on streaming services to fund local content production.

 

International Relations debating topics for kids 2023

 

International Relations Debating Topics for Kids 2023:

 

  • That we should ban tourism to states with poor human rights records.
  • That voluntourism (the act of volunteering in a foreign nation as a tourist activity) should be banned.
  • That the Olympics should not be hosted by developing nations.
  • That all students should be required to study a foreign language in school.
  • That foreign aid should be tied to human rights targets.
  • That all asylum seekers to Australia should be processed in Australia.
  • That international sporting events should be depoliticised.
  • That countries should be allowed to pay other nations to take refugees and asylum seekers on their behalf.
  • That developing nations should be exempt from international carbon emission targets.
  • That there should be one permanent host city for the Olympics.

 

We hope you’ve found this resource useful for practising your debating skills or even hosting your very own debate! 

 

If you’re ever wondering what topic to set for your next debate, make sure to check out our updated list of debating topics especially written for kids. 

 

Good luck and happy debating!