100 Argument Essays By Teens
These essays range from many different topics from pop music, to school shootings, to the pandemic, to seemingly unimportant things that are important to some people.
Trigger Warning: School shootings, discussions of violence and other hard topics like sexism, racism, police brutality, homophobia and more.
I give this book 4 stars (out of five). This book has a really interesting premise and I really enjoyed reading it. I found it interesting because there was such a wide variety of topics and I agreed and disagreed with many of them, despite being around the same age as many of the authors which shows how different people can have drastically different perspectives.
Since this is a collection of Essays I’ll only be mentioning the few that stood out to me, and will only comment on the ones that I have something specific to say about. It’s very cool to see all the various things that are important to different people, especially how those topics can change overtime.
These are the ones I really liked and why.
- 6. China Needs Freedom of Information By: Anonymous, 17 (2019)
This explains and brings attention to the lack of outside information and access within China and how it negatively impacts all the citizens. China can keep its citizens ignorant and/or uniformed easily and people don’t even know what’s going on. Many people are missing out on freedom in the modern internet age. This essay was also well written and funny somehow.
- 12. Moving Forwards: Stopping Volunteer Tourism By: Jack Jian Kai Zhang, 16 (2019)
This explains how volunteering to do active charity work in third world countries is often more harmful than helpful and how many charities and organizations misuse their money and aren’t actually as helpful as they seem. This is a really important topic and I personally didn’t realize that this could be harmful or know much about this, so I’m very glad it was included. The cost of sending people there isn’t worth the small amount of work that gets done, also the idea of people from first world countries ‘saving’ the others doesn’t help at all.
- 16. Accountability-Based Testing Is Broken By: Alan Peng, 17 (2018)
This covers how tests made by companies and widely administered are terrible for the teachers, students and school system overall. Teachers have even cheated on tests to look better and carelessness on behalf of the companies results in impossible questions and bad situations.
Honestly as someone who is not from America I was confused that this stuff was ever happening to begin with, personally all my tests are either made by my teachers or from materials that we learn from as well and never from 3rd party companies. This sounds terrible for everyone to have to deal with, I knew America’s school system was kind of messed up but learning specifics is even more eye opening.
- 17. Stopping Bullets With Locked Doors and Silence is Already Pulling the Trigger By: Daina Kalnina, 15 (2017)
This mainly talks about school shooting drills and how they’re insufficient, they’re teaching people to just sit and wait instead of training them how to fight back or have a good chance of surviving. This is another one that confused me a bit since I’m not American.
In all shooting preparation videos I’ve seen they tell you to try to run if possible, call for help, or stay put, hide and try to organize in case you need to fight back. All of these are situational of course, but I didn’t realize that people weren’t ever prepared to fight back if they encountered a shooter. The American school system has many flaws but this is one that needs to be addressed immediately and it’s sad that it even exists to begin with.
- 18. Why We Should Teach The Truth About American History By: Patrick Wang, 16 (2019)
This covers how, especially in certain places, the truth about history is not being properly taught to students because Americans don’t want to acknowledge their wrong-doings. This is terrible and obviously should be stopped (I don’t think I need to explain why). Not to compare Canada and America, but I know that here I’ve been taught about residential schools and other similar terrible things my country and government have done ever since 5th grade and I think that’s something that everyone everywhere is owed and should be able to learn about easily.
- 22. Sex Ed and Abortion in America: Hypocrisy at Its Finest By: Sylvia Hollander, 17 (2018)
This explains how in many places in America Sex Ed classes are insuffient and the government still tries to get rid of helpful programs like Planned Parenthood and make abortion illegal. Some Sex Ed classes are abstinence-only, which increases the need for abortions because people aren’t fully educted on what they’re doing or the consequences. This covers an important topic with good writing.
- 23. The Korean Dream is a Korean Tragedy By: Jinha Kim, 15 (2019)
This explains how the school system in Korea places too much value on test scores from 1 exam which basically decides what type of future you have. The pressure is way too much and greatly increases stress and mental illness amongst students, it puts everything on their studies and doesn’t give them any room for other activities or interests. This school system is flawed and the author has ideas for how to improve it.
- 26. Fairness in Education: The Upper-Class Monopoly on Resources By: Xiaolin Ding, 17 (2018)
This covers how the education system is unfair because people with more money have more access to important resources and higher education, which means people from certain backgrounds are at a significant disadvantage their entire lives. Everyone regardless of the things they can’t control should have to work hard and dedicate themselves to be successful in their education.
- 32. Generation Code Red By: Grace Scullion, 16 (2017)
This had a powerful message about school shootings, mainly using statistics and talking about how people at a young age shouldn’t have to be scared for their lives everyday at school. This had both very good writing and messages.
- 40. America First By: Safa Saleh, 17 (2017)
This talks about the Trump travel ban from the perspective of an immigrant, specifically pointing out that Trump’s ban doesn’t apply to countries Trump has business connections with and is not actually stopping terrorists at all.
- 46. The Red Stain on Society By: Holly Keaton, 16 (2016)
This covers the subject of periods, how they are often used by men to justify their male superiority, how they aren’t often comfortably talked about even amongst women and how they need to be normalized and talked about more.
- 50. How “It’s Okay to be Gay” Has Become a Lie in the Trump Era By: Lane Schell, 16 (2019)
This discusses LGBTQ+ Rights and how people often tell others that it’s okay because it doesn’t bother them, but that’s honestly not true considering that Trump was elected and he is making changes to actively take away LGBTQ+ rights and freedom in America.
- 52. The Question Up For Debate: Is Feminism Really For Everyone? By: Nico Mayer, 14 (2016)
This covers the topic of feminism and points out that while sexism is a topic and issue that affects all women, women of all backgrounds should have a voice when discussing the feminism movement, not just famous white women. Intersectionality should be considered more and people from various races should have more freedom and audiences to share their experiences as well.
- 74. We are the Generation of Self-Deprecation By: Faith Christiansen, 17 (2019)
This essay brings up points about how self-deprecating humour can be harmful especially in many of the teenagers who use it and how that negativity can and should be replaced with positivity. And I personally agree and disagree with this one, self-deprecating is a big part of my humour and life. I do think it can be unhealthy but I think it is okay in smaller amounts and certain instances. But I do have to admit that I found some of the examples funny so I think we should recognize that this is a coping mechanism for living in 2020.
- 81. There Is No Happily Ever After Without Once Upon a Time By: Bridget O’Leary, 17 (2017)
This highlights the lack of representation for people from many different minorities, specifically LGBTQ+ people and how damaging it can be to never see people like yourself represented in media especially for young people and kids. This is a very important topic and has good writing.
- 92. Breaking the Blue Wall of Silence: Changing the Social Narrative about Policing in America By: Narain Dubey, 17 (2019)
This has important messages and information about how information about police corruption is often kept quiet in America. It uses personal information, stories and connection to the topic to make their message clear. This was very well written and has really important information that I didn’t know before reading.
These are a few of the essays that confused me and I disagreed with.
- 11. To Bae or Not To Bae By: Paula L. (2015)
This discusses modern slang words often used by teenagers. I personally just disagreed with the sentiment of this essay because it was against slang or the abbreviations that teens use because it will ‘diminish meaningful conversations.’ I just think it’s stupid to say that slang words are losing the meaning of normal English, because it means the same things and often take on their own meanings not expressable through other words.
I’ve never seen a teenager actively against slang in general, I think it’s a personal preference. If you want to use them then use them, if you don’t then don’t. It’s that simple and I don’t think anyone really should be able to tell others what they should or shouldn’t say based on their own opinions.
This reminds me of the time one of my friends got mad at me for using a slang word she didn’t know, while using other slang words herself. It’s a personal preference and you don’t get to make that decision for other people.
- 39. Am I Dangerous? By: Paige D. (2015)
This covers the topic of gun control in America from the perspective of someone who knows how to shoot and use guns. I’ve just never seen anyone take this stance on gun control before, I’m honestly a bit confused on what the author is saying. Because they seem to be taking the stance that general gun control isn’t necessary but having people with mental illnesses or potential criminals with guns should be monitored and controlled.
To me, this just isn’t right. It makes sense to have stricter gun regulations for everyone, because even if we have no reason to suspect you’ll use it, someone who has access to and knows how to use a deadly weapon is more dangerous than someone who doesn’t. I’m Canadian so this isn’t an American perspective, but in my country we have stricter gun regulations and way less shootings, so looking at our neighbors there could be some correlation there. However, I haven’t done research into this topic and these are just my preexisting thoughts.
- 69. Trivializing Mental Illness Make Me Depressed By: Lola Byers-Ogle, 15 (2018)
This essay covers how people frequently using mental illness and psychology terms to describe everyday things minimizes the seriousness of the topic and desensitizes people. The terminology often makes people think that mental illnesses aren’t actually as bad as they can be. I actually agree and disagree with this one, because I do think that the usage of serious words in un-extreme situations can be harmful. I also don’t think that this shouldn’t be allowed at all.
Lots of people use jokes, comedy or casual conversations to cope with their real issues or problems, which is why I think it should definitely be at least acceptable. I’ve used these words and have seen firsthand how they can be harmful , but I’ve also seen how they can make people feel better and bring people together. I think generally people need to use that type of wods less but it should still be okay to use sometimes, because just telling people to stop is not leaving room for the many teenagers who talk like this and actually have mental illnesses.
- 80. A Massacre of Art By: Josh C. (2015)
I personally hate this essay for many reasons. It’s message is that pop music is bad and only popular because of the Exposure Effect, and you should listen to music with meaningful lyrics instead. Can you see why I disagree? Although learning about the Exposure Effect is helpful and informative, I don’t think you can blame the entire popularity of pop music on it. Music taste is subjective, everyone’s going to have a different taste. So just because you think pop music sucks, doesn’t mean that everyone else does or has to.
Also one of the main messages was the pop music’s lyrics are often stupid and only made to be cachty and surface level and while I’m not saying that isn’t true, sometimes that can still make an enjoyable and fun song. Not every song has to have extremely meaningful lyrics to be enjoyable and good. Think about it, there’s always at least one song that you like even though it doesn’t explain the meaning of the universe.
Additionally, the tone and general writing style throughout the essay was kind of superior or pissed off, almost like the author thinks they’re way above people who like and listen to pop music, which I think is unwarranted and out of place.
Overall I just think that this essay was bad, because everyone’s always going to have different tastes and opinions and just because you don’t like what’s popular doesn’t mean you’re right. And also these opinions are coming from me, who is a kpop stan and used to highly value meaningful lyrics but then realized that sometimes you just need to have fun to great songs even if they aren’t necessarily poetry.
That’s why I love music, because there’s so much of it out there that there’s something for everyone, this person, everyone who loves pop and everyone else. I don’t think it’s okay to push your music taste onto anyone else and you should be respectful of theirs, even if your friend likes music you hate.
These are essays with interesting topics and ideas.
- 10. Tiger Parenting: An Angel in Disguise By: Michelle Twan, 17 (2019)
This uses personal experiences and some statistics to come to the conclusion that some tiger parenting can have good results, even though it can worsen the relationship and stress out the kids. I personally wouldn’t have come to the same conclusion because I don’t think it’s worth the cost, but I haven’t had any experiences with it so I can’t speak directly.
- 21. Is it Actually Smart to Sit Still? By: Hannah Amell, 15 (2018)
This covers how constantly sitting still in school can actually make it harder to learn effectively, which is why fidget toys and other things are often implemented in schools to make it a bit easier. This reveals information that I as a student didn’t know and think I should’ve, so this was helpful and educational.
- 27. Inferior Substitute Teaching By: Candice C. and Cheryl B. (2014)
This talks from personal experience about how bad substitution teachers can be, especially in the American school system. Personally I’ve had hands-off substitutes but never to the extent described, so I think it’s an important topic. When I was younger I saw subs as a break, but now in high school it’s just bad to miss a normal class and then still be expected to be caught up when the teacher wasn’t even there to teach.
- 28. Why We Stayed Up Until Midnight Finishing This Editorial By: Jean Z, Sarah X, and Gjeorgjinio B. (2014)
This discusses all the stress and problems students face from extremely young ages to go and get into a good college, how this affects student’s mental health and how the system itself should be changed. Your kid isn’t lazy because they aren’t pushing themselves to their limits with Ap classes and extracurriculars, that should not be the standard.
- 34. In Nothing We Trust By: Francesca Kelley, 18 (2017)
This one discusses how nowadays most neighbors don’t trust each other and the general sense of community amongst people who live near each other has been nearly lost. I personally agree with this message even though I’m not american but this depends on the type of place you live.
- 35. China, It’s Time to Meet Your Daughters By: Lila MCNamee, 14 (2019)
This brings attention to the fact that when China enacted a one child per family rule they also created a gender imbalance, leading to many parents unsatisfied with girls and putting them up for adoption, which is the personal experience of the author.
- 37. It’s Time for Teens to Vote By: Miriam Gold, 14 (2016)
This essay presents logical reasons why the voting age should be lower, presents many revolutionary accomplishments made by people under the voting age and also compares how people who can’t vote can still make major life decisions for themselves. This had good arguments and writing and covers an important and diverse topic.
- 43. Discourse is Democracy: Allowing Uncensored Speech on College Campuses By: Abigail Hogan, 17 (2017)
This essay explains cases of speakers being stopped from speaking on campuses because of protesting students, but proposes that students should listen to people even if they have different views because hearing them speak could open their eyes or change their minds, and it’s counterproductive to be stuck in an echochamber where you only hear information supporting your pre-existing beliefs. And while I agree with that, I also think that that doesn’t mean people should be forced to listen to people who they already know are problematic, for example racists or homophobes.
- 47. Why I, a Heterosexual Teenage Boy, Want to See More Men in Speedos By: Noah Spencer, 17 (2014)
This talks about how female athletes and celebrities are often only celebrated for their bodies or are always sexualized and it’s unfair. The general message is that if you’re going to make a magazine about amazing athletics you shouldn’t only include attractive females, including men too. I think it would be cool if we just don’t sexualize anyone, but that’s just a suggestion.
- 51. You Don’t Need to Glitter Things Pink to Get Me Into STEM By: Abby W. (2014)
This covers how programs often use things stereotypically femmine to try and get girls into STEM, which is not only sexist but also sometimes insulting and demeaning. Accepting and welcoming girls into STEM means encouraging them to learn if they’re interested and understanding that many women are already interested, not making everything pink and expecting to get results.
- 60. Intelligence Over Diversity By: Ashley K. (2014)
This talks about the acceptance process to universities in America and how they are recently being skewed because campuses want to seem more inclusive by selecting purposefully to increase diversity. This effectively changes the process and means that intelligent people are missing out on opportunities because they won’t make the environment more diverse, although I agree that this isn’t fair I think that having diversity is still really important and should not be ignored.
- 62. Nothing Gets Between Me and My Sushi…Except Plastic, Maybe By: Sophie Lee, 15 (2019)
This explains the scary truth that microplastics are such a big problem that they are even a danger to us and can be in our water and food, specifically inside fish that is in our food. This is another well written essay with an important message.
- 83. To Read or Not to Read? By: Anna Brooke May (2015)
This essay preached the positive effects of reading, especially in today’s modern society in which technology is often used instead and students don’t have a lot of free time. I found it interesting that even though I read a lot and very frequently I didn’t quite agree with this. Despite using statistics and other facts to suggest that reading makes people happier than watching tv, I just don’t think that can ever apply to everyone. I love reading, but I know that lots of people my age don’t. I don’t think that makes me smarter or happier, and if watching Netflix or Youtube makes you happy then why stop to read (unless you find that reading also makes you happy)? As someone who has both of these interests, I don’t hold reading above watching other media so I find it interesting seeing them compared like this.
- 95. Life Sentences for Children Should Go Away… for Life By: Jessie Dietz, 17 (2019)
This uses one specific case and general statistics to argue that children should not face life sentences even for severe crimes because research shows that children aren’t fully developed and if they were focused more on rehabilitation they could at least be released as adults. Teenagers and kids aren’t even allowed to vote, drive and do other basic things that adults do, so why should they be subjected to the same punishments?
- 100. “Cultural Appropriation” is Critical to Human Progress By: Maggie Strauss, 17 (2019)
Many things that aren’t malicious are nowadays seen as cultural appropriation, but there needs to be some embracing and building upon ideas and practices of other cultures to see general human progress. If everything is divided by culture then there won’t be real progress, if everyone gatekeepers what their culture did first. And while I agree with this sentiment I think that there are many examples of cultural appropriation that are a lot more serious and problematic where this doesn’t apply. It depends on the situation and although the term is probably used more often than it should be, it is still a real modern problem.
- 101. This Land Was Made for You and Me By: Nicole Tian, 15
This provides perspective on the COVID-19 pandemic and the racial hate it has brought to the limelight, specifically against Chinese and Asian people. From the perspective of a young Chinese-American during this whole terrible and racist situation.
- 103. How Animal Crossing Will Save Gen Z By: Ananya Udaygiri, 15
This is probably my favourite essay out of them all, because it explains the Gen Z experience more accurately than I’ve ever seen. Our lives are full of the tragedies around us and we are overwhelmed by the terrible circumstances in which we live, and Animal Crossing is just one video game that offers an escape from our reality and brings us to a world where people just live. Most people around my age find escapism to be one of the best coping mechanisms and I’m one of them. My favourite line is “Sadness is never relative to others,” when talking about people who minimize the problems Gen Z faces.
And to finish up this review here are a few that weren’t outstanding but I think deserved to be included.
- 3. I’m a Disabled Teenager, and Social Media is My Lifeline By: Asaka Park, 17 (2019)
This one talks about the advantages of social media for disabled people and how people often look down on it but it’s actually very useful and helpful.
- 5. #SelieNation By: Alyssa G. (2015)
This discusses how people looking down on selfies are discouraging teens from being confident and doing what makes them happy.
- 15. Gym Class Villains By: Nora Berry, 17, and Chase Morarty, 17 (2016)
This covers all the reasons why gym class can be damaging and harmful because it compares and grades kids based on their athletic/physical abilities. Including weights and other measures that students shouldn’t be graded on, it also talks about how the individual accommodation for this class is quite different from academic classes when it really shouldn’t be.