School uniforms spark debate amongst parents, students and school administrators. Once used primarily in private schools, the idea of school uniforms spread to some public schools in an attempt to create a safe, productive school environment with less friction between different groups. People on both sides of the debate feel strongly about their arguments, but little in the way of solid evidence is available to confirm benefits or disadvantages to school uniforms.
The safety of the students ranks at the top of the advantages list for those who support school uniforms. Regulating the clothing of students may help control gang-related clothing, which some schools believe reduces gang activity on school grounds. The Great Schools website points out that uniforms also allow outsiders to be identified easily. This gives staff and law enforcement officials a better chance of stopping a potential intruder or identifying him as someone who isn’t a student if a dangerous situation arises.
Sense of Community
Uniforms instill a sense of pride or community within some schools. Clothing becomes a status symbol for kids, especially as they get older. Certain students may feel left out or picked on if they cannot afford name brand clothing. A set uniform for all students puts everyone on even ground when it comes to fashion. Students may feel more a part of the group when they don’t have the pressure of wearing the latest fashion trends and brands.
School dress codes often outline acceptable clothing, but some students try to push the limits. Hateful or offensive messages on T-shirts are one area of concern. Inappropriate or skimpy clothing is another concern. A school uniform eliminates the problems associated with offensive or inappropriate clothing at school. This allows the students and faculty to focus more on learning than the potential disruptions from clothing.
Many students and adults feel that school uniforms take away the students’ rights to express themselves. The kids are unable to differentiate themselves or represent their values and ideas. This factor could cause some students to rebel against the idea of school uniforms.
School uniforms require that families purchase specific clothing for their children. These clothes are typically only worn during school time. This means the family must purchase extra clothing specifically to meet the school’s uniform requirements. Families with limited incomes often don’t have the funds to purchase enough uniforms for their children. Parents already pay taxes and other fees to send their children to school, so the additional uniform expense is unappealing to some families.
The lack of research on the subject of school uniforms makes it difficult to determine if they are effective or not. If the school already has major underlying problems, a school uniform policy won’t solve the problems overnight. Without additional measures to tighten up discipline and achievement at the school, a uniform is likely to be ineffective.