Ethics Expository Writing Prompts

We each have a personal belief system that compels us to take action to promote or defend causes that we believe in. Use these expository writing prompts on ethics to stimulate your middle school and high school students to explain their stance.

→ Writing Prompt 1:  In order to crack down on drug use and distribution in schools, many high schools have begun to conduct targeted searches of student lockers, backpacks and other personal properties. The Supreme Court has ruled these types of searches as constitutional, since the school is ultimately responsible for the well-being of its students. However, many people feel that these searches are a violation of student rights and, therefore, should not occur. In your opinion, do they help to keep the rest of the student body safe or are they unjustifiable?

→ Writing Prompt 2:  With more professional and college athletes being drug-tested, do you feel that high school athletes should be subjected to regular drug tests?

→ Writing Prompt 3: Many great philosophers have likened war to being a cowardly way to face a problem. Do you agree with these philosophers? Why or why not?

→ Writing Prompt 4:  In some parts of Australia, where the brush is dry, the punishment for throwing a lit match out of a car window can be as much as 10 years. Is that a fair sentence? Why or why not?

→ Writing Prompt 5:  Should young children be allowed to play with toy guns or other violent toys? Does playing with these toys promote violent tendencies in children?

→ Writing Prompt 6:  Should marijuana be legalized? Site your position and specific examples that support this decision. Simply “because I like it,” is not an example.

→ Writing Prompt 7: You have no money for food or medical care for your young child. He’s ill and in dire need of medicine. Would you feel justified in stealing to save your child’s life?

→ Writing Prompt 8: You’ve been warned not to play baseball in the school’s parking lot, but you do so anyway and accidentally break a car window. You don’t know who the car belongs to. What would you do?

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→ Writing Prompt 9: Animals are often used in the medical community to test for a cure in order to save people’s lives. Should animals be used in this way? If not, how should the medical community test its drugs or other cures before using them on people?

→ Writing Prompt 10: Your best friend is running for class president. However, you catch her defacing and stealing her opponent’s signs. What would you do?

→ Writing Prompt 11:  Your best friend has started bullying another student. She’s popular and you like being in her crowd. Would you do or say something to her? Would you tell on her?

→ Writing Prompt 12:  Would you tell if you saw a friend cheating on a test?

→ Writing Prompt 13:  At a party someone starts telling racial jokes. Do you say something, do you walk away, or do you remain quiet? Why did you chose your answer?

→ Writing Prompt 14:  Is it ever acceptable for a teenager to have plastic surgery just because she doesn’t like the way something looks on her and not for a medical reason?

→ Writing Prompt 15: You saw your brother commit a serious crime. Would you turn him in? If you decided it was the morally correct thing to do, would you accept a reward if it was offered?

→ Writing Prompt 16: You found a $50 bill lying on the floor by the movie theater concession stand. You have no idea who it belongs to. What do you do?

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→ Writing Prompt 17: Do you think the punishment for people who are in a position of authority (such as teachers, coaches, priests) should be harsher than it is for the regular population if they commit a crime as a sexual predator? Why or why not?

→ Writing Prompt 18: You become an attorney and start out as a public defender. The case that lands on your desk is one of an accused serial killer. In your heart, and from the evidence, you know he is guilty. Yet it is your sworn duty to give him the best defense you possibly can. Therefore, you do so and you win. The accused killer is set free. However, he kills again almost immediately. How do you reconcile your conscience with your sworn duty? Do you take pride in knowing you did your job to the best of your ability or do you lose sleep because even though you did the right thing, it ended up feeling wrong?

→ Writing Prompt 19: Is it ever okay to lie? Or should “honesty is the best policy” be the only way we live our lives?

→ Writing Prompt 20: A teacher was fired recently for posting racially charged comments on her Facebook page that were considered “offensive, disrespectful and insensitive” by the school district where she worked. Do you believe that a teacher should be fired or suspended for Facebook posts that are controversial? Does the school district have a right to edit what a teacher says, or does the First Amendment’s right to freedom of speech take precedence?  

→ Writing Prompt 21: You see your best friend’s boyfriend at the mall in the food court with another girl, whom you don’t know and have never seen before. What do you do? Do you confront him, tell your best friend, or do nothing?