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Ask any school child what the pros of a school uniform are and they'll likely greet you with blank stares. If you think back to when you were a child you'll remember that most of us hated wearing a school uniform. However while it might not be entirely popular among the children, it can nevertheless have many positive benefits and if you think back to your time in school objectively now, then you can probably appreciate that fact.
For parents, teachers or governors trying to decide on their viewpoint of school uniforms it can be hard to think of it objectively and to think of all the different strengths and weaknesses they poise. Read on then and learn some of the plus and minus points about the controversial school uniform.
It helps you to find children: If a school is on a trip, or if a child runs away, a school uniform can help teachers to quickly identify children from their school and so prevent them from getting lost. This is a very useful ability for teachers and if it means fewer children going missing it's of course a good thing.
It prevents competition and teasing: When children wear their own clothes into school, this then becomes a time for them to judge each other. Some children will be more mature than others, some will have better dress sense, and some will have more money at their disposal. What you don't want is some children turning up in fashionable new clothes and bullying the ones in their hand-me-downs who will inevitably feel embarrassed as a result. With a school uniform everyone is the same, thus no one can argue this point. Likewise wearing home clothes can show affiliation � to sports teams, to TV series, or to bands � and this can then cause arguments between the 'rival' teams.
It can enforce a positive attitude: In a work place we dress smartly even though there's normally no uniform in office jobs, and even the self employed are advised to dress as though they were going into an office. The reason for this is that it can make you feel professional, and that that in turn can make you produce a better quality of work. The same is true of school children and if they are in shirts they will feel more like little workers and less like football fans.
It can teach discipline: Though many jobs do not require a uniform, others do. If you children are going to grow up to become nurses or checkout assistants then they may as well get used now to putting on the same uniform day in and out.
It shows their age: At the end of the day you want people to know that your children are children. This prevents people from chatting them up or serving them alcohol. By putting them in school uniforms the older looking children then can't pretend to be older than they are.
It can be used as an excuse: If a child is misbehaving and needs to be put in line, it can sometimes be difficult for a teacher to find a reason. By telling them off for having their shirt un-tucked though you have a legitimate reason. This is often why there are dress codes in clubs (though some parents would undoubtedly argue this was a bad reason to wear a uniform).
They're expensive for parents: Those parents who would have sent their children to school in old hand-me-downs and knitted jumpers may not be as relieved about the uniform as you may think, as it will mean they have to fork out for expensive school uniforms time and again in order to pay for their children's education. They will also need several versions of the same outfit as their children will have to wear them five days a week. This is on top of the clothes they already had to wear. They may well end up still wearing hand-me-downs from older siblings, or faded clothes from the charity shop too.
They can give the school a bad name: If the children of a school are out causing trouble wearing the uniform from a school, it can reflect badly on that school and result in fewer parents wanting to send their children there.
It can cause controversy: Someone has to design the uniform and someone has to choose what it consists of. Rules like 'girls wear skirts' can be perceived as pervy or sexist, while girls not being allowed to wear skirts can upset a lot of the girls. Likewise ties will be seen as a point of controversy (again is there gender equality here?) and every time there' a redesign parents and pupils alike will likely be angry. By letting children wear their own clothes you can avoid all of the politics involved here.
They can stifle individuality: Some people say that school uniforms are good for creating a sense of authority and discipline in children, whereas other parents would argue this is undesirable and they would rather their children were more creative and more liberal. At the same time they might feel that it takes away a way for children to express themselves and be more creative. It could be seen as stifling their creativity and independence to get them more willing to work for the 'man' in later life. Whether or not this is a good thing is entirely a matter of perspective.
Children don't like them: At the end of the day children would all love to wear their own uniforms. It would make children want to come to that school and it would make them a lot more likely to tow the line in other ways. Other schools would think that the children from yours were the 'cool' ones and it would generally be a great gift to the children. They're the ones who have to wear the things day in day out... so this has got to be worth something.
They look bad: School uniforms by and large are ugly to look at and usually involve black and yellow stripes, mucus green jumpers and uncomfortable materials. It's no wonder the children don't like wearing them... And this fact can make them teased by other children.
So there is no easy answer about whether children should or shouldn't wear uniforms and really it comes down to your own philosophies. At the end of the day though it's possible to make school uniforms a lot more pleasant than they are currently and there's no reason for them to be quite so bad to look at. Meanwhile it's also possible to find a compromise � such as making children wear a certain hat, or wear a tie and shirt but letting them choose them. Even just saying they have to wear a red jumper. If you are in charge of uniforms at your school then, maybe try thinking outside the box and ending the age old debate? Perhaps if you are little creative then you can satisfy both camps to at least some degree.
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- Comment #1 (Posted by Kailey)
- Comment #2 (Posted by Anonymous)
This is very helpful, thank you.
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when was this article published? its great
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I say it is a good article.
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This article was absolutely terrible I mean seriously. "They look Bad" "Children Don't Like them" really utter disgrace is all I have to say :(
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- Comment #10 (Posted by an unknown user)
Not all school uniforms are expensive. Also, how can students tease other students wearing ugly uniforms if they're all wearing the same uniforms? And also, when you mention that it causes controversy, why not have gender neutral uniforms? Or maybe give girls optional skirts, and boys optional ties.
- Comment #11 (Posted by an unknown user)
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This is a great article, I did hate then when I went to school. :) Post this on Facebook!
- Comment #14 (Posted by an unknown user)
"They look bad"
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Helpful for school projects.
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The article was great but all I need now is when it was made? The date of this?
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Thank you for this great article! It helped me a lot :)
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This helped me a lot.
- Comment #23 (Posted by Kayla)
These are very good reasons!
- Comment #24 (Posted by an unknown user)
- Comment #25 (Posted by an unknown user)
The description of the uniforms seems rather silly. As if they all are alike. And where are you getting the black and yellow stripes? Most uniforms I have seen are navy.
- Comment #26 (Posted by an unknown user)
- Comment #27 (Posted by mike)
- Comment #28 (Posted by Hope Davis)
Great pros. Helped my researching a lot!!!
- Comment #29 (Posted by Someone)
Not all uniforms are expensive and they are all different but kids should have their opinion on things.
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Very good source of information for my research paper, thank you very much for going into detail about every pros and cons you picked.
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Good article. We are writing an argumentative essay in in class about school uniforms and this was good research.
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I liked this article...
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I like the cons, they are really helping me on my speech/debate thing that I have. Thanks. :)
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- Comment #51 (Posted by an unknown user)
Why is it that I've seen the reason "Children Don't Like Them" on every article I have read so far? That's the most idi*tic reason I've ever heard.
- Comment #52 (Posted by mikayla)
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I am doing a one on one debate in school about uniforms and this article not only helped me with my reasoning, but gave me some great insight on what my opponent will say!
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- Comment #55 (Posted by Bibo)
The prevalence of uniforms in public schools continues to rise in the United States, as parents and school administrators exert efforts to keep our schools safe environments. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, nearly 20% of all public schools have adopted uniform mandates. Approximately 22% of elementary schools, 19% of all middle schools, and 10% of high schools currently require uniforms, and this trend continues to accelerate.
Although uniforms have been a mainstay of private schools, public schools didn’t jump on the bandwagon until 1994, when the Long Beach California School District integrated school uniforms to address safety issues challenging the district. According to the school district data, within one year after the implementation of uniforms, the fights and muggings at school decreased by 50%, while sexual offenses were reduced by 74%. Across the country, similar statistics abound; for example, at Ruffner Middle School in Norfolk, VA, the number of discipline referrals decreased by 42% once uniforms were enforced.
Fueled by these statistics, more schools across the country are requiring uniforms in their public schools, naming school safety as their primary motivation. Even with these compelling statistics, however, there are other statistics that argue that uniforms are not as beneficial as school administrators and parents are encouraged to believe. Opponents cite research that shows a lack of individualism and comfort among students, working to actually decrease student learning and success. Thus, the question still remains: are public school uniforms good for your child?
The Benefits of Public School Uniforms:Safer Learning Environment
Many school administrators and parents believe that uniforms create a better learning environment at school. First and foremost, many administrators claim that students are not as distracted by how they look, and therefore, spend more time learning at school. The peer pressures of stylish dressing with the “best” brands are alleviated, especially when students may not wear any uniform pieces from name brand companies. This allows students to focus more on their schoolwork, rather than social appearances. Furthermore, the socioeconomic differences present among students are minimized when all students must wear the same school uniforms, no longer feeling the pressure to “fit in” with the right clothing choices.
By Knownroads (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
According to school-reported statistics and the School Administrator, the mandate of uniforms on campuses has reduced tardiness, skipped classes, suspensions, and discipline referrals among students. In addition, with the visual uniformity present across all students, the instance of school pride has increased. Similar to athletic team uniforms, proponents argue that dressing cohesively increases pride, unity, and a renewed commitment to the school. With uniforms, a more professional tone is set in school, encouraging students to take their studies more seriously.
Uniforms at school also reduce the prevalence of violence, which is a major concern for many public schools. Outsiders who do not belong on campus are easily identified, and thus, do not pose a great threat to the students. Additionally, uniforms reduce the prevalence of “cliques” and gangs on school campuses as students are required to only wear specific colors and uniform pieces. A school may only allow green or yellow polo shirts and khaki bottoms, for example, preventing students from wearing the traditional gang identifying colors of red and blue. Accessories such as bandanas, another distinguishing gang clothing characteristic, can also be eliminated from the school dress code. When it is more difficult to identify members of gangs in school, the fights and violence between rival gangs decrease.
Disadvantages:Denial of Self-Expression and Comfort
The opponents of public school uniforms, as outlined by the ACLU’s argument for the First Amendment, argue that uniforms stifle a student’s need for self-expression. By denying students the opportunity to fully express their unique personality through the clothing they select, individualism is unable to develop to its fullest capacity. When children select their own clothing, they are able to develop confidence and independence, characteristics vital to personality development and adult success. Denying students the ability to express individualism and belief in a sub-culture, whether preppy, hip-hop, punk, or jock, could stymie the students’ transition from childhood into adulthood. Controlling the socialization process could harm the student as an adult, as they are not prepared for the real world, where they will indeed by judged by their appearances.
Proponents of uniforms argue that they will bring conformity among students, resulting in increased safety, but when students are limited through what they may wear, they will find other ways to react against authority and the limits uniform policies place on their individual nature. Without the outlet of expression in their clothes, students may turn to other avenues of self-expression that may be viewed as even more inappropriate than clothing, such as nontraditional hairstyles or make-up or more importantly, acting out against school and parental authority through the decisions they make and behaviors they exhibit.
In addition, opponents argue that uniforms may not be comfortable for all students, which will limit learning as students worry about their appearance. Student comfort is important in order to maximize learning outcomes, and uniforms may stymie academic focus. For example, the uniform standard may require students to wear polo shirts that are tucked into khaki slacks. Students who are overweight may feel very self-conscious about their bodies. Additionally, female students may feel insecure about their bodies and feel that having a tucked in shirt will bring attention to their developing figures. When students do not feel comfortable in the required school uniform, their focus will shift from learning. Children, especially those in middle and high school, are constantly concerned about their appearance, and wearing a school uniform will not alleviate this concern.
Addressing the Issue of Decreased Violence among Gangs
An additional argument put forth by those in favor of uniforms advocates that they decrease violence among students involved in gangs because there will be less chance of identifying gangs members through the clothing colors they wear. Though students may be limited in wearing a particular color, they will find other ways to identify their participation in gangs, from the hairstyles they select to how they wear the required uniform. For example, students in gangs may all choose the same type of belt to show their unity or shave their hair in the same fashion.
The Mixed Response from Parents:Cost-effectiveness of Wearing Uniforms
Whereas some parents believe that uniforms are more cost-effective than purchasing the latest stylish clothes, other parents argue that the cost of uniforms is steep. Typically, uniforms are more expensive up-front, as the parent must invest in all of the staples at the beginning of the school year, for example, there are collared or polo shirts of various colors, khaki or black pants, black or brown belts and shoes, and solid colored sweaters. Though this is an expense at the beginning, there are only small expenses that need to be made as the school year progresses. On the other hand, many parents argue that uniforms are not economical as they must purchase both a school wardrobe and a casual wardrobe as children do not want or may not be permitted to wear their uniform clothes outside of school.
Unfortunately, the decision of requiring school uniforms among children is not as transparent as it might first appear. Many factors must be taken in to account, from overall school safety to the lack of self-expression students may encounter with their implementation. The arguments are best summed up by Dr. Alan Hilfer, a senior child and adolescent psychologist, who states, “Uniforms do eliminate competition, pressure, and assaults perpetrated by kids on younger kids for their sneakers and possessions. They also allow some kids to focus better, especially in the lower grades… [However], clothes are a source of expression for children, and as kids get older, they become increasingly resentful of uniforms.”
Deciding whether uniforms are right for your child depends upon individual circumstances. If your child has a high need for self-expression and personal comfort in her clothing, then uniforms may create unhealthy resentment and result in negative behaviors from your child. On the other hand, if you believe that your child needs to focus more on academics than physical and social appearances, then uniforms may help level the social pressures associated with independent dressing. Understanding what elements are most important for you and your child will help you determine if school uniforms are a right fit.
Questions? Contact us on Twitter. @publicschoolreview