The Pros and Cons of School Uniforms
Whether you’re for or against them, the debate refuses to go away.
During the application process to a charter school, my tween daughter had a full-blown dramatic meltdown upon hearing she would have to wear a uniform if accepted. I believe the words “I could just die!” were uttered at some point in the conversation. With all the dramatics aside, I finally got to the root of her upset. She believed it would inevitably strip her of her identity and not relate her individual style to her peers. It’s a valid concern for most children her age seeking independence. After talking it through, we both had valid points to consider.
Through my research, it turns out many parents tend to side with my tween on the issue, which seemed surprising to me. Personally I’m still on the fence, but there are some great points to consider before making up my mind on the issue.
The question remains: will school uniformity rob youth of their ability to express themselves and undermine their reasoning abilities and what are the pros and cons on the school uniform debate?
Pros of School Uniforms
Students’ top-rated statements with responses of “Agree” and “Strongly Agree” were: I still have my identity when I wear a uniform (54 percent); My family likes that I wear a uniform to school (53 percent); I think uniforms save money on clothes (50 percent); I worry less about how others look (42 percent); and, There is less gang activity at school (41 percent). – source
Students experience less social pressure which creates more freedom to concentrate on lessons.
Looking back at my time in school, fashion decisions were more likely to top my list than reading assignments (sorry Mrs. Shaffer). I see this repeating in my children. My tween will call friends and coordinate outfits before school. Deducing from experience, I can corroborate the fact that school uniforms promote education first and foremost.
In addition to bringing the focus back on education, there is less peer pressure to dress in the latest fashions at the risk of ridicule. It’s been shown that school uniforms are more cost efficient for families on a budget. This levels the playing field and once again supports a learning (not competing) environment. Children don’t choose their financial situation, taking the social pressure off in the classroom can only benefit the community.
Uniformity promotes a measurable reduction of violence in schools and in the case of a school intruder(s), they are easily identified among uniformed students.
Compared to the year prior, discipline referrals were reduced by about 10 percent the first year the uniform policy was implemented. Additionally, school police data showed a 63 percent reduction in police log reports during the first year of implementation. Other decreases were noted in reports of gang-related activities and student fights, along with graffiti, property damage, battery and administrative assists. – source
No one likes to think about the possibility of a violent attack on a school, however the reality is it happens. In the case of an outside attacker, the response rate can be faster if he is easily identified among the uniformed students. In high-stress situations, reaction time is key to survival and may save lives.
Studies show schools that enforce a uniform rule have students that act more orderly and professional. This results in fewer on-campus incidents involving violence and bullying. Implementing uniforms clearly has a direct effect on the student body.
Families are more efficient on school days and students are less likely to be tardy when uniforms are involved. Uniforms also save valuable time, as well as money.
Uniforms also have economics on their side, as well as environmentally friendly. Buying a few school uniforms instead of a new school wardrobe every fall is much more economical for families with multiple children. Most uniform brands are designed to stand up to everyday wear and repeated washing.
The quality also allows families to donate gently used items to be reused and recycled. This option is eco-friendly, as well as budget friendly.
Every parent knows that mornings can feel like chaos. Looking for this or that, not knowing what the child will wear or even arguing over clothing choices can be a pain. Removing these time delays from the day-to-day routine can lessen stress and foster a quality family environment. Plus you send your children off to school with a positive attitude and they are ready to learn.
“If a simple change in attire can positively influence more than 30 percent, or even 25 percent of a school’s student population, then perhaps administrators, teachers, students and community members find it worth the effort,” Jafeth Sanchez
Cons of School Uniforms
Uniforms can detract from a child’s individuality, causing them to express themselves in other ways like tattoos and/or piercings.
Kids will always look for loopholes, especially when it comes to expressing themselves. There is not data that children who wear school uniforms are more likely to participate in smoking, drugs, tattoos, and/or piercings. So far in schools studied, the reduction in school police reports have declined.
To me this falls under a parenting issue. Addictive habits and substance abuse in youth is something that should be an issue for the parents. I don’t feel my children would all of sudden turn to drugs or body augmentation as a form of expression because their school requires them to wear a uniform. Then what is the excuse for the non-uniform children participating in these illegal activities? I’m not sold on this argument point, and feels like a cop-out.
Uniformed children risk becoming a target for bullying from kids from non-uniformed schools.
This could pose an issue if your child is in a daycare facility after school. So far there is also no data to support this as a valid claim in the debate, but it seems to be making the rounds in the conversations as a point of worry. In my experience as a nanny, children will make fun of each other for any given reason. In fact, I feel kids are more likely to be made fun of when they are free to express themselves. Bullying is definitely unacceptable in any instance.
But social pressure is so strong, there is no way for a parent to ensure their child won’t be made fun of over the smallest thing. My son just refused to wear a popular name brand shirt because he felt kids would laugh at the saying on it. It was a motocross shirt that read: “I eat dirt”. Once I explained the premise of the text, he decided he liked the shirt and wore it after all.
Schools should be a place where diversity is celebrated.
Whether you agree or disagree with this point, it’s a definite contender in the school uniform debate. Personally I feel school is an extension of what, one day, will be their professional life and as such it’s important to become familiar with others in a professional environment. Kids are funny and exuberant so putting on a uniform will not detract from their heritage or culture. We like to teach clothes don’t make you who you are, but I feel that this argument is saying just that.
There are many ways children can learn lessons of diversity that have nothing to do with clothing choices. Limiting diversity to fashion is not really a good point to me in favor of not supporting uniforms.
What do you think? Uniforms or Not?
When I started this post, I truly was undecided, but after reading through the data and hearing both sides I have to say I’m okay with uniforms in our schools. However, I also like to consider my children’s feeling on the matter. I also feel like when my children become of work age, they will have been prepared for the professional environment having to adhere to dress standards through their education.