Although sometimes supporting a claim with reasons and evidence is sufficient to persuade a reader, in other situations you will need to strengthen the argument with what is known as a counterargument.

What is a counterargument? A counterargument is an opposing belief that refutes the claim. For example, one might argue that educators, parents, and those who experience bullying all should work together to ensure that students who bully others are held accountable. As long as sufficient reasons and evidence are offered to support this claim, some readers will be persuaded to accept it. For other readers, though, the claim will not persuade them because of its emphasis on responding to bullying rather than preventing it from occurring in the first place. Those readers may dispute the initial claim by stating that educators, parents, and students who are bullied should turn their attention instead to developing anti-bullying techniques or programs that would discourage bullying from taking place. Their position may be strengthened by the idea that such techniques and programs, by preventing bullying, would also prevent the consequences that result from being bullied, including substance abuse and psychological and behavioral problems.

As you can see from the example, the counterargument is not just a position or stance that differs from the original claim, but instead can also take the form of an alternative solution to the problem. When presenting a counterargument, therefore, the intent is not just to take an opposing position for the sake of doing so; rather, it is to highlight an alternative opinion that reflects a credible, well-informed perspective.