Mandatory uniform policies are present in many schools around the world. The main reason behind these policies is to keep children focused on their education, reduce discrimination and bias, improve attendance and performance, and enhance community spirit (Brunsma, 2004). However, opponents of school uniforms claim that students are denied the right for self-expression and that uniforms have nothing to do with academic outcomes and peer relationships. In this essay, I aim to look closer at the problem and express my own attitude to school uniforms.
Let me begin with perceived disadvantages of school uniforms. First, many students hate wearing the same clothes every day because they are dull and restrict their self-expression. This especially concerns girls for whom fashion is the primary tool to highlight their individuality. Therefore, making students wear uniforms for so many years may lead to negative self-image, conformity, and the loss of individuality. Second, school uniform policies put some families at a disadvantage because low-income families may struggle to buy both regular clothes and uniforms. In other words, school uniforms undermine the very idea of free public education by imposing extra expense on families. Last, opponents of uniforms claim that their positive impact is exaggerated and that they do not affect the school environment, academic achievement, and discipline.
Evidence from numerous studies, however, refutes these arguments. It has been found that school uniforms can actually be extremely effective in improving the school environment. A study by Sanchez, Yoxsimer, and Hill (2012) showed that school uniform policies have a positive effect on discipline, reduce gang involvement and bullying and increase school safety. Similarly, Smart (2016) argued that uniforms create a sense of emotional safety, which is critical for achieving positive academic outcomes. Children do not need to worry about how they look and whether their clothes are stylish because everyone wears the same color and design. They have fewer discipline problems and violence as well as higher attendance rates compared to children not wearing uniforms. A comprehensive study involving 62 schools conducted by Brookshire (2016) supported these findings, which allows suggesting that uniforms are indeed beneficial for students when it comes to safety and overall school climate.
Furthermore, evidence shows that school uniforms positively affect academic achievement (Adams, 2007). It is believed that school uniforms create a favorable environment that allows students to focus on studying. They are less distracted when they wear the same clothes, while the routine of wearing a uniform every day makes them more organized. Moreover, proponents of school uniforms add that they help easily identify children when they are off-campus and deter them from playing truant or buying cigarettes and alcohol. Finally, school uniforms are believed to contribute to unity and a sense of belonging, which in turn lead to respect, tolerance, and trust.
To summarize, I think that school uniforms are a part of the school culture. Although I admit that it may be problematic for some parents to buy them, the benefits certainly outweigh any challenges. Children may not like uniforms initially, but it is a matter of time before they become more acceptant of school rules. Meanwhile, the benefits of uniforms are undisputable, as they contribute to the safer and more tolerant atmosphere and improved academic outcomes. To make school uniform policies more effective and eliminate the mentioned challenges, parents and children need to be educated on the importance of a dress code. Moreover, disadvantaged families need to be offered financial support from the government or charities to reduce the burden of school policies on a family budget.
Adams, B. J. (2007). The effectiveness of school uniforms on students’ academic achievement and overall classroom behavior. Rowan University (Masters dissertation). Retrieved from http://rdw.rowan.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1769&context=etd
Brookshire, A. N. (2016). The impact of school uniforms on school climate. Walden University (doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from http://scholarworks.waldenu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3352&context=dissertations
Brunsma, D. L. (2004). The school uniform movement and what it tells us about American education: A symbolic crusade. Lanham, MD: R&L Education.
Sanchez, J. E., Yoxsimer, A., & Hill, G. C. (2012). Uniforms in the middle school: Student opinions, discipline data, and school police data. Journal of School Violence, 11(4), 345-356. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15388220.2012.706873
Smart, J. Y. (2016). What makes a bully? New York, NY: Page Publishing Inc.