Dress Codes and School Uniform Policies

Are Uniforms Old Fashioned?

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How Do School Uniforms Help Students?

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Modern music academy uniform.Presbyterian Ladies' College.
Modern music academy uniform.
Modern music academy uniform. | Source
Presbyterian Ladies' College.
Presbyterian Ladies' College. | Source

What is the result if all youth in K-12 wore uniforms?

School boards and parents have argued about students in K-12 being required to wear school uniforms. Several American schools have initiated and forced this requirement, while others have not.

Uniforms can seem like a major life change to students, but this change may indeed be an effective change that improves the quality of education and life at school, indicated by research all the way back to 1996 by Chuck Sambar and others.

School uniforms can be effective in a number of ways.

A Simple Uniform May Be Key

A simple uniform that includes

  1. conservative clothing and shoes,
  2. conservative hair styles, and
  3. conservative makeup and accessories, if permissible

reduces the number of early morning battles between parents and youth over what to wear.

The simple uniform can reduce the number of early-morning and late-night phone calls students make to young friends trying to match ensembles or even to coordinate gang colors.

This school uniform requirement can itself reduce the clout of cliques who often bully students outside the clique for "substandard" appearance. It can reduce gang rivalries and even bullying that results from picking on other kids considered "in groups" and "out groups" at school.

Owning a set of matching outfits equalizes the playing field at school among youth. It creates a sense of more evident equality.

Disadvantaged students might stop feeling left out by the kids that used to wear the most expensive name-brand outfits. There would be fewer instances of stealing of clothing and shoes as well.

Far fewer teens likely would be shot or stabbed for their special sports jackets or their expensive designer basketball shoes if a school uniform were added to school dress codes.

The ‘In’ Crowd: 1964

Uniforms Work in Asia

Within a uniform requirement, overall conservative clothing, shoes, hair, or makeup would less likely broadcast one's social status. In fact, the institution of countrywide uniforms for everyone in China after the fall of the last emperor proved this. Everyone wore khakis and worked, even the former emperor. More work was accomplished in China without the distraction of varying fashion.

The Japanese also instituted uniforms in Honda plants in America as they had already done in their factories at home. More work has accomplished in all of these factories when compared to factories that have no uniform code. It is far fetched to believe that all of America will every wear uniforms, but much evidence shows that uniforms cut down on distraction, bullying, and wasted time.

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Skirts and blouses in Japan.Schoolgirls in Nepal wear trousers.
Skirts and blouses in Japan.
Skirts and blouses in Japan. | Source
Schoolgirls in Nepal wear trousers.
Schoolgirls in Nepal wear trousers. | Source

Safety, Money Saving, and Personality Development

One of the oldest complaints against school uniforms is that students would lose their individuality. Individuality should come from personality and ideas, not from a piece of cloth on the shoulders, a fancy shoe on the foot, gang colors, or Hannah Montana backpacks.

Uniforms can improve and enhance students' individuality, because students will resort to expressing themselves through personality, rather than through appearance. Uniforms can, therefore, improve self-esteem in conjunction with more fully developed personality.

Secondly, uniforms should allow more time for student work and study -- less time for gossip and comparison. Students in uniforms may spend less time shopping and time gossiping about clothes.

This should allow students to focus on school. Students may even arrive at school earlier, since they will not be trying on so many different outfits each morning. This reduces stress. One exception I know is a Catholic school that allows the students different colors and styles of socks with their uniforms - and the kids fight over their socks. It is an unnecessary distraction.

Thirdly, K-12 uniforms -- like back trousers/skirt, black shoes, black or white socks, and white tops -- can save money.

Parents will no longer buy high cost brand name school clothes. For weekends, students might do chores or work part-time if old enough to earn money, for other clothes. This will help the youth to learn the concept of cost and value.

Some students disagree might fight the notion of uniforms for K-12, but every school has the opportunity of benefiting from them. Students need to attend school to learn, not to worry about who is looking at their clothes, and especially not to fight over them to the point of murder or assault.

Uniforms can create a more focused, relaxed atmosphere and decrease the frequency of bullying at school, but will also raise students' self-esteem, increase productivity, and save money.

The ideal uniform policy should probably include clothing, shoes, makeup, accessories, and hairstyles. It should likely include facial piercing and visible tattoos as well. There are schools at which kindergartners wear makeup, so an across the board policy for all grades may be best, or one that allows moderate makeup in the appropriate grade level.

If one school's youth will fight over different colored socks when that is the only element that differs, then they will certainly fight or gossip or spend time looking for long periods of time at pierced and tattooed faces and arms. Each school district must make a choice after meeting with parents and students and deciding what sort of policy is best for all.

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Comments & Complaints - No Sagging, Please 12 comments

Lissie profile image

Lissie 8 years ago from New Zealand

Wow you found a NZ school photo as an example! In NZ uniforms are common at high school level, at primarly level is usuall a private school which will have a uniform. I wore uniforms for most of my schooling in the UK and NZ in general I liked it. No decision making in the mornings was a big plus - and yes there was no feeling that I was 2nd class because my mother was on a solo parent on a benefit and had friends who were daughts of teachers and doctors. We all tended to have 2nd hand uniforms - fortunately these days the uniforms are a lot more practical - I had to wear a gym slip which hadn't substantially changed since the 1920's, a blazer that hadn't changed since the 1890's and a proper tie in the winter. Though I did subsequently impress several boyfriends by teaching them how to to tie ties - for some odd reason the boys tended not to have to wear uniform ties!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 8 years ago from North America Author

Thanks for the comments Lizzie. I really like those NZ sun hats.

In elementary schiool, my mother had only two dresses each year. She wore one while the other was washed for the next day, for a whole 9 months. Uniforms would have been an upgrade.


mel 7 years ago

This is America, not some dictatorship. As long as clothing is clean and not

offensive it should be fine. Don't try to shove socialism down our throats. If you

want your children to wear uniforms, fine. Its your choice. Don't try to take away our freedom of choice. If you want socialism then move to another country.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 7 years ago from North America Author

Mr. or Ms. "mel" - My uniformed martial classes get people up out of wheelchairs permanently -- What have you done lately?

Your comments are nonsense and I am part of the backbone of this free country, so you leave it yourself. What you don't like is likely discipline of any sort or accountability. Freedom means personal accountability.

Uniforms raise grades and give young people a chance for successful employment. That's all it's about. Perhaps you have been discplined for wearing sagging jeans to low that your underwear shows. Being offended at dirty underwear shown in public is not socialist.

No socialism is evident in a school uniform that stops violence in the central city. In the inner cities as well as suburbs, the school uniform stops kids from killing one another so often for Air Jordans, leather jackets, cashmere sweaters, Starter Jackets and other such items of clothing.

Catholic schools that require unforms are not socialist, but require order for the best grades earned in many parts of this country. The Marching Band that wears uniforms is not socialist. The football team that wears uniforms is not socialist. The basketball team with their unforms is not socialist. With teamwork and discipline, they are winners.


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London

uniforms and socialism aren't remotely the same thing. Don't American sports teams and nurses wear them? Are they all commies?

Pretty much every child in the UK wears a uniform from 4 to 16, and a lot of schools up to 18.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 7 years ago from North America Author

Exactly right. I think the poster may have had a specific problem that was unstated.

In some areas, uniforms are more expensive that other clothing and single parents cannot afford them, for instance.


lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 7 years ago from Bishop, Ca

Well Patty, I find it telling that the only time in my own life that I would have given mel's words any credence was when I was wearing one myself.

Enough...

Laurel


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 7 years ago from North America Author

Thanks for your comments! How about pro baseball teams in streetclothes? lol


good job 7 years ago

godd job


James 6 years ago

My NH public middle school has mandatory uniforms. Luckily, it is only a polo shirt and khaki pants. However, we do have to tuck in our shirts and wear a belt. There's, like, 20 other rules, too. I like the uniform, but hate how formal it is. I agree how it helps with schoolwork, though.


Jarah 5 years ago

I hate school ilke that


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 5 years ago from North America Author

I understand.

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