Reducing Youth Violence through Debate

Debate as an Alternative to Youth Violence

Begun in 2004, GSU researDebatechers have partnered with the Atlanta Housing Authority, public school districts, area universities (Emory, Marquette, and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee), and debate leagues in Atlanta, Boston, and Milwaukee to implement and examine the impact of urban debate programs on educational performance and students conduct of thousands of low-income middle and high school students. Consistent findings across the various cities have demonstrated that students significantly reduce their number of school absences, disciplinary incidents, and suspensions after participating in debate. Students also improve their grade point averages, their reading levels, and their standardized test scores across academic subject areas. The debate program was named signature school program of the Bush administration’s Helping America’s Youth initiative, was a top three finalist for the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter National Community Partnership Award, and was presented with the President’s Award from the Atlanta Housing Authority for outstanding contributions to the youth living in its communities. The U.S. Bureau of Justice Administration has funded the urban debate programs through its Project Safe Neighborhoods Weed and Seed Program, its Anti-Gun Initiative, and its Anti-Gang Initiative. Other key funders have included the Einhorn Family Charitable Trust, the Atlanta Housing Authority, and the Boston Debate League.

PI and Point of Contact: Carol Winkler (