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Mandating School Uniforms Essay

The controversy on school uniforms has continued from the early 1990’s and its worth was reiterated by President Bill Clinton in his State of the Union Address in 1996. In attending a school which incorporates the school uniforms parents need to know what school uniforms represent, the goal of the schools for their children, and what should be taught to their children. School uniforms create unity and pride. School uniforms are also encouraged as a means to help ensure students safety and assist them in achieving academic success.

Although it is argued that school uniforms is a breach of a student’s freewill for self- expression, all public schools should incorporate uniforms because it creates and symbolizes unity and pride, heightens discipline, but most importantly it is believed that the reinforcement of school uniforms decrease bullying, disciplinary actions ,and violence. School uniforms create unity with uniforms being the same across the whole campus. Teachers are able to identify students and separate them from outsiders or those who are on campus without permission. Parents also play a big role in educating students with what uniforms represent for them and the schools they attend.

Students will become more confident in engaging with their peers and teachers because they will not feel any different but rather have a sense of belonging. Huss’s (2007) article “Do uniforms influence teacher expectations” reports that teachers perceived an elevation in the overall morale at the school after the implementation of the school uniform policy. School uniforms boost confidence in students and makes it easier to interact with one another without being self-conscious about the attire he and/or she has on.

It is an acknowledgement of the schools they attend but most importantly who they represent as individuals. Students with low socioeconomic statuses are unable to express themselves if they are unable to afford the new and latest trends which may cause them to feel out of place. Should Public Schools Reinforce Uniforms? 3 Would a parent ever want his and/or her child singled out because of clothing? Parents need to think about all students who are currently affected and not only for their own child’s sake or unnecessary want. Other students who wish for brand name clothing and cannot have them tend to shy away from others and eventually shy away from school.

With school uniforms implemented students will learn to appreciate themselves as students, and without distractions from clothes they will be able to see one another for who and what they represent which is the act of unity and the start of discipline. Anderson (2002) states that when students dress alike, a “team-like” culture develops, and this promotes school spirit and positive self-images. Uniform is in fact a representation of one, and students will grow to understand the value of wearing a uniform. Because all students look alike, differences are pushed aside thus allowing more time to focus on academics.

School uniforms decrease disciplinary actions because students have more self-respect, respect for their peers and for their teachers. Some school personnel believe students and teachers tend to behave the way they are allowed to dress (Stephens, 1996). When school uniforms are present in schools the goal is to make a distinction between teachers and students. Teachers are given the authority to teach and students are given an undivided attention from teachers which will allow them to learn. An observation of a United Kingdom school conducted by Amy Walmsley (2011) stated with school uniforms implemented students are more likely to respect peers and teachers because they are reminded that their job is to be a student.

Students will attend school in uniforms and cannot differentiate with one another as they are able to identify themselves and their peers as students are all in school for one common goal which is to learn and exceed in academics. Teachers can lead by example and support the integration of school uniforms by wearing similar colors to school consequently reminding the students that Should Public Schools Reinforce Uniforms? 4 they are all on the same page.

Parents and guardians can lend a hand in educating their children as well to ensure students understand the importance of school uniforms in creating discipline overall school campus. With discipline comes more control in the schools and school uniforms can definitely be one influential cause. Studies conducted with regards to student discipline has shown that schools which have incorporated school uniforms have noted that students behaved better, paid more attention in class, and interacted in a respectful manner than before the implementation took place (Huss, 2007).

As Angela Walmsley (2011) reiterates in her article, “teachers appreciate the fact that the presence of school uniforms brings a sense of duty to the students and respect for the school and teachers. Uniforms should be used to create a positive school climate in which students focus on learning and bring back a little bit more respect for teachers and students in the classroom”.

Teachers perceived improvement in academic and achievement motivation, an increased sense of responsibility by students acknowledging a more effective use of instructional time, and greater participation in classroom activities (Huss,2007). Why else would parents not want to implement school uniforms in public schools? Students are being bullied, violated, and threatened for their designer or brand name clothing. Others with low socioeconomic statuses are constantly being harassed and ridiculed because they do not fit in a social group due to what they wear.

The implementation of school uniforms can minimize the act of bullying in schools. Nowadays fashion trends and designer clothes are aimed to a younger generation, and students are going out of their way to flaunt (show off new clothes with attitude) them. While some students are fortunate enough to receive these with parents who are able to afford them, others are not able to because their parents have much more important things to worry about with regards to how money is being spent in their Should Public Schools Reinforce Uniforms? 5 households.

Students cannot learn to appreciate the effort of the school for the integration of school uniforms if parents continue to condone this type of behavior. Parents need to be mindful of all other reasons that may affect students while they are in school and their cry for freedom of expression. In an attempt to help stop bullying The Federal Government has created a Stop Bullying website and brings to light a certain group of students who may be at risk of being bullied.

Some of the children who may be at risk of being bullied if it has not occurred yet are perceived as different from their peers because of different clothing or not wearing what other students consider cool (“Stop Bullying, ” n. d) . Students especially those who are females are known to degrade one another if the clothes worn are not of the latest style. An editor, Vanessa O’Connell of The Wall Street Journal writes and reports on fashion bullies from a public school which has yet to incorporate a school uniform.

Students without the latest cool brands have become a target for bullying because they are wearing the wrong brands. It is stated that the number of fashion bullies (or those related to clothing) and incidents have increased over the years, therefore calling for assistance in reduction of these types of incidents. Susan M. Swearer, associate professor of school psychology at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, surveyed a total of more than 1,000 students at five Midwestern middle schools from 1999 to 2004, with about 56% of the sample female, and more than one-third of the students admits to being bullied because of their clothing (O’Connell, 2007).

Students should not have to worry about clothing but it is happening and it needs to stop with the reinforcement of school uniforms. Furthermore, the Bullying Statistics from 2013 has stated that 77% of students are being bullied on a regular basis, and half of the percentage is made up of students who are harassed and fear returning to school. The effects of bullying are low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and some suicidal thoughts. Bullying due to clothing occurs when students are being teased or Should Public Schools Reinforce Uniforms?

6 humiliated constantly for not having the latest designer clothes, or for having a different type of style in attire such as Goth wear or those of a low socioeconomic status. Name-calling, dirty stares, elimination from social groups are some of the actions defined as bullying which students are involved in at school. With the integration of school uniforms there should be no bullying in school with respect to the types of clothing the students should wear. Students will not be intimidated by one another because they choose to express themselves differently, therefore permitting them to the freedom they need to learn and exceed in academics.

The most important reason school uniforms should be incorporated is to help decrease violence. Violence in schools has been marked by health professionals as a threat to overall health and academic success of students (Stephens, 1996). In addition, programs which were implemented in schools to assist with violence have noted a possible connection between school violence and the type of clothing students wear (King, 1998).

Most cases are due to the fashion trends which is most attractive by students such as brand name clothing or urban wear which are over-sized and can be mistakenly identified as gang-related clothing. This type of wear is the made popular by famous hip hop artists and rappers whom students look to imitate and idolize. Students have had violent encounters in school because some individuals envy them because they cannot afford to purchase these types of clothing.

Furthermore, gang members are usually differentiated from one another through the colors they wear and there have been instances where students from local schools are unintentionally harmed or gunned down due to the colors they choose to wear to express themselves in school.

Other students who become victim to these occurrences are able to hide weapons in their large clothing which is potentially placing all students in harm’s way. Should Public Schools Reinforce Uniforms? 7 Violence in schools has been an ongoing issue over the last decades and King notes in his article Should School Uniforms be Mandated in Elementary School how violence has negatively influenced students and have caused one of every 10 to 12 youths to stay away from school does so because of fear (Stephens, 1997; Everett & Price,1995). Students fear for their lives because of the common occurrence of violence.

They are no longer motivated to attend nor learn from school as they do not feel safe in school. These feelings eventually cause isolation and causes students to drop out of school. With the implementation of school uniforms, fights over looks and styles will discontinue hence giving faculty, staff, teachers, and parents more time to focus on academic success of students. In support of decreasing violence through incorporating school uniforms research studies have shown that there has been an intense decrease of violence and disciplinary problems for Kindergarten through Grade Eight in schools which have incorporated uniforms (King, 1998).

Requiring school uniforms is one of the simplest ways to start teaching students about unity and pride as they start school and grow into learning individuals. It is important for parents and teachers to support the decision to implement school uniforms and allow the students to adapt to the changes which are designed to provide them a safe and secure learning environment. The reinforcement of school uniforms will lead to changes that are not only beneficial to students but the teachers and the school as a whole. It will help the students understand the importance of school uniforms and how they symbolize unity and pride.

In addition it encourages students to learn to appreciate and respect themselves, their peers, and teachers and remove distractions from which eventually lead to bullying, fighting, or some form of disciplinary or violent behavior. With full support from parents, the students will be on their way to academic success. Should Public Schools Reinforce Uniforms? 8 Students can lead themselves to a fit and well-disciplined environment where they will be able to learn at their full capacity, and their teachers can teach at their maximum potential (King, 1998).

References Everett SA, Price JH. Students’ perceptions of violence in the public schools: the MetLife survey. J Adol Health. 1995; 17:345-352. Huss, J. A. (2007) The role of school uniforms in creating an academically motivating climate: Do uniforms influence teacher expectations. Journal of Ethnographic and Qualitative Research, 1, 31-39. Retrieved from: http://eds. b. ebscohost. com. proxy-library. ashford. edu/ Should Public Schools Reinforce Uniforms? 9 Kling, K. A. (1997) Should School Uniforms be Mandated in Elementary Schools? Journal of School Health, 68 (1), 32-37.

Retrieved from: http://eds. b. ebscohost. com. proxy-library. ashford. edu/ O’Connell, V. (2007, October) Fashion Bullies Attack – In Middle School The Wall Street Journal Retrieved from: http://online. wsj. com/news/articles/SB119326834963770540 Portner J. Department to issue guidelines on school uniforms. Educ Week. 1996;15(24):27 (as cited in King, 1998, p. 32) Stephens RD. The art of safe school planning. Sch Admin. 1996;53(2): 14-21. (as cited in King, 1998, p. 32) The US Dept of Education. Manual on School Uniforms, online. Retrieved from: http://inet. ed. gov/updates/uniforms.

html. Feb 29, 1996. The U. S Department of Health & Human Services Manual on Bullying, online Retrieved from: http://www. stopbullying. gov/at-risk/factors/#atrisk The White House Office of the Press Secretary. Memorandum for the Secretary of Education. Subject: Manual on School Uniforms, online. http://inet. ed. gov/PressReleases/02- 1996/whpr. 26. html. Feb 23, 1996. Walmsley, A. (2011) What the United Kingdom can teach the United States about school uniforms. Kappanmagazine. org. 92 (6), 63-66. Retrieved from: http://eds. b. ebscohost. com. proxy-library. ashford. edu/


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