School Uniforms

April 22, 2010
By , South Setauket, NY
When President Bill Clinton promoted dress codes in his annual State of the Union address, the burgeoning uniform movement received a huge boost. (Update: School Uniforms) After the speech, demand for the uniforms slowly climbed upwards. School uniforms should be required in all American schools. School uniforms would reduce crimes and violence on school property, improve student behavior, and improve students’ academic performances. These days, a lot of schools throughout the United States are requiring uniforms to be worn, and many schools are seeing a big difference in the student’s behavior. Some schools say that school uniforms help them tell the difference between their student and an outsider or a student who doesn’t belong on the school grounds. Uniforms will also prevent gangs from joining together during school hours.

School uniforms would help reduce crime and violence on the school property. School violence in all its harmful forms has potentially serious short-term and long-term affects on the individual student, the school as a whole, and the society. (Schier, 24) In the 1950’s, violence at school became more common especially violence associated with gangs. (Davidson, 9) From the 1950’s through the 1970’s the number of crimes committed by teens at schools significantly increased. (Davidson, 9) School officials argued with the court that student’s loose fitting clothing could be used to hide guns and other weapons. (“Update: School Uniforms”) With school uniforms, students wouldn’t be wearing baggy clothing, which would reduce weapons coming into the school. In 1995, Long Beach School District required uniforms for all students in kindergarten through eight grade. (Konheim-Kalkstein, “A Uniform Look”) The Long Beach School District in California was the first largest urban school district to require uniforms. (Konheim-Kalkstein, “A Uniform Look”) Five years later, they said the overall crime in the school district dropped down by ninety-nine percent. (Konheim-Kalkstein, “A Uniform Look”) In urban schools, fashion trends are often characterized by gang related clothing. School Uniforms can diminish gangs. (Konheim-Kalkstein, “A Uniform Look”) Diminishing gangs would reduce violence. After introducing uniforms, the Birmingham, Alabama Schools reported a drop in weapon and drugs. (Konheim-Kalkstein, “A Uniform Look”) In 1999, Education World article by Glori Chaika reported a significant drop in gang violence.

Wearing school uniforms can help improve student’s behavior. Name-calling alone can have a significant effect on a student’s self-esteem, especially if the name-calling is connected to a person’s appearance. (Schier, 27) Teens usually define themselves by their looks and their status within a peer group. (Schier, 27) If a teen is poor, then they wouldn’t be able to wear a particular desired brand of clothing which can lead to bullying, and bullying can take many forms including spreading vicious rumors, name calling, having humiliating pictures of the victim on the internet, pushing, shoving, and spitting on the victim. (Schier, 18) If a student is more concerned about being bullied at school rather than failing an exam, then that student may stop attending school entirely. School uniforms will act as an equalizing social force. (“Update: School Uniforms”) With less bullying, the student would be able to focus on his or her studies. Dress codes ensure that one student cannot wear more expensive and impressing clothing than the rest. (“Update: School Uniforms”) By making all the students wear uniforms, school officials can ensure that students would judge one another based on their character and not on their wardrobe. (“Update: School Uniforms”) Winston Tucker, a researcher at the University of Minnesota, investigated the perceptions of St. Paul teachers in 1999. He found that schools where uniforms were worn, teachers perceived more positive behavior, less teasing, and better self-esteem. (Konheim-Kalkstein, “A Uniform Look”)

School uniforms would improve students’ academic performances. School uniforms would eliminate the distractions created by the designer clothing. (“Update: School Uniforms”) Uniforms will force students to focus their attention on the teacher and not on one another’s clothing. This will help students perform better on exams. According to Yasmine Konheim-Kalkstein, less violence in schools translates to a better school climate. (“A Uniform Look”) A South Carolina State University researched on Charleston Secondary School, in 1996, and found that having school uniforms, promoted higher attendance and better academic scores. (Konheim-Kalkstein, “A Uniform Look”) In the 1980’s, a number of studies found that the average test scores of Catholic-school students exceeded over test scores of students attending in the public schools. (“Update: School Uniforms”) Researchers thought this happened because Catholic-school students were subjected to uniforms. (“Update: School Uniforms”) If students are being bullied for their choice of clothing, then they might have difficulties focusing on his or her studies. This destroys the positive learning environment in schools and affects the student’s abilities to read and learn. (Schier, 30) So, school uniforms would help students’ score higher on exams.

Every American public school must require students to wear uniforms. Wearing school uniforms would help students get higher grades, improve their behavior, and reduce crime and violence. Dress codes are aimed at banning gang insignia which will help students focus on their school work and reduce peer pressure. According to a 1966 issue of communicator, a newsletter published by the National Association of Elementary School Principals, Cherry Hill Principal Geraldine Smallwood reported increased attendance, less fighting, increased test scores, and improved school behavior after students started to wear uniforms. (Konheim-Kalkstein, “A Uniform Look”) After introducing uniforms to Houston schools, Houston schools observed decrease in violent crime, and improvement in behavior. (Konheim-Kalkstein, “A Uniform Look”) At West Philadelphia High School, Principal James says uniforms help the kids realize that they are coming to a different environment, and they need to become more serious about their education. (Snyder, “Uniform Approach to Conduct”) At West Philadelphia High School, there were 27.6 incidents per day last September. (Snyder, “Uniform Approach to Conduct”) After the school district passed the uniform policy, it obligated students to wear uniforms, in the first ten days after school started crimes was reduced to 1.5 incidents per day. (Snyder, “Uniform Approach to Conduct”) This is why schools should obligate students to wear uniforms.

Works Cited
Davidson, Tish. School Conflicts. N.p.: Scholastic Inc, 2003. Print.
Konheim-Kalkstein, Yasmine L. "A Uniform Look." American School Board Journal Vol. 193, No. 8 Aug. 2006: 24-27. SIRS Researcher. Web. 01 April 2010.
Schier, Helga. The Causes of School Violence. Minnesota: ABDO, 2008. Print.
Snyder, Susan. "Uniform Approach to Conduct." Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, PA) Sept. 24 2004: A1+. SIRS Researcher. Web. 01 April 2010.
“Update: School Uniforms.” Issues and Controversies. Facts on File News Service, 20 Oct. 2006. Web. 26 Mar. 2010. <>.

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