"I went to a Catholic School, and underneath my school uniform, I wore a metal shirt."
George Stroumboulopoulos, Journalist
Since the introduction of school uniforms, there had been plenty of discussions on whether school uniforms are a good thing or not.
Even though there are plenty of advantages of school uniforms, there are also several downsides related to them.
In this article, the pros and cons of school uniforms are examined in detail.
One advantage of school uniforms is that they are usually rather inexpensive compared to other fancy brand-name clothes. Therefore, also families that do not have too much money should be able to afford school uniforms.
In case families would not be able to afford school uniforms, there may be programs which help to finance school uniforms in the local municipality. Thus, school uniforms may lower the spending for kids’ clothes and may therefore relieve the wallet of parents.
Through the use of school uniforms, children may also learn discipline from an early age on. This may help them for their future life since they are also more likely to attend their jobs on time and will not get in trouble for being late all the time.
Thus, improvements in discipline through the use of school uniforms may benefit children once they turn into grownups since they may maintain this kind of discipline into adulthood, which may give them an advantage in several areas of their future life.
There had been studies which found that the use of school uniforms increases the likelihood of student attendance. If this is true, it would be a clear pro for school uniforms since a higher attendance rate also means an overall boost in the level of education, which usually leads to a higher average income and to many other social benefits.
However, critics of those studies often claim that the studies and methods had been pretty biased and that school uniforms actually do not increase student attendance at all. Thus, it is still questionable if the introduction of school uniforms has a positive effect on students’ attendance levels.
Many schools all over the world have a big problem when it comes to conflicts in school. These conflicts and a higher level of aggression are often due to problems inside the students’ families, but may also be due to differences in religious or cultural beliefs which often lead to significant levels of intolerance towards minorities.
However, through school uniforms, those differences in beliefs may no longer be too obvious since everyone wears the same clothes and minorities may no longer have to suffer from attacks since they better fit in into the overall picture.
Many children are also quite scared of going to school since they fear to be attacked due to their physical appearance and their clothing. Therefore, by introducing mandatory school uniforms, those insecurities regarding their physical appearance may be lowered since kids do no longer have to fear to be attacked due to their styles, which may take away some of those students’ insecurities and they may not fear to go to school anymore.
In our current society, children sometimes become victims of child abuse and other horrible attacks. Those crimes are often committed by strangers who go to campus and try to find their next victim.
However, through the use of school uniforms, those strangers would be unmasked quite soon since their appearance would stand out among all other kids and teachers wearing uniforms and sexual abuse and other crimes could be reduced to a certain extent through the use of school uniforms.
Bullying is a pretty big problem in many schools on a global scale. Students are often bullied due to their physical appearance or also due to their religious or cultural beliefs. By using school uniforms, the level of bullying may be lowered since everyone wears the same uniforms and there would be no differences in clothing anymore which could be used as an attacking point for bullies.
Children may also develop a higher sense of identification with their school if school uniforms are used.
This may lead to a point where children are more eager to go to school and to do their homework since they feel committed and as a valued member of their school.
In turn, this may lead to better grades and also to a more positive attitude towards school in general, which may also translate into improvements in mental health in the long run.
Gang activities are a serious problem in many cities all over the world. However, this does not only apply to adults, but also to students since gang violence is also present on school yards. Gangs are often associated with specific colors.
Thus, gang members often wear those colors, even at school to make their gang memberships visible to others. This may cause plenty of conflicts when it comes to the clash of rival gangs on school yards.
Therefore, by introducing school uniforms, students may no longer be able to make their gang membership visible and the number of incidents that is due to gang violence may be lowered to a certain extent since it is no longer obvious who belongs to which gang.
Especially for teenagers, brand-name clothes and other gadgets are quite important and the peer pressure is high for students to meet the high standards of other fellow students.
Thus, in case a student is not able to afford those expensive clothes, he or she might become victim to bullying or other forms of social isolation.
By introducing school uniforms, this problem could be mitigated since everyone would be forced to wear the same clothes.
Teenagers often spend significant time on shopping since they are insecure and don’t know what they should wear in school. Through the introduction of mandatory school uniforms, there would be less need for extensive shopping and those kids would have more time to do sports or other activities that might be more beneficial for their health or their educational development.
Many households, especially big families often struggle to be on time every morning since kids often need plenty of time to dress themselves. However, through the use of school uniforms, the decision what to wear would be pretty easy and would also save plenty of time in the daily morning routine, which may significantly lower the overall stress level of families.
By using school uniforms, it would also be quite easy to determine the age of kids. This could be useful when it comes to finding your friends on a crowded campus since you might easily spot the colors associated to their respective grade.
Moreover, age identification through the color of school uniforms may also be helpful when it comes to certain things that are subject to age restrictions since shop owners could rely on school uniforms as an age indication and would not have to control every single ID.
Since everyone looks quite similar through the introduction of mandatory school uniforms, there should be a tendency towards more tolerance since humans often want to fit into a social construct and if no one deviates from this construct, chances are that the overall level of tolerance will increase, which in turn might also lead to less bullying.
Since kids can be quite cruel when it comes to styles they do not like at all, many kids may be bullied due to the expression of their individual appearance.
Moreover, children are often prejudiced by their parents and may not accept other styles.
Therefore, through the introduction of school uniforms, those problems regarding prejudices may be lowered to a certain extent.
Another advantage of school uniforms is that excursions would be much easier to manage. If every student wears the same color, it is less likely that students get lost at some point since teachers can easily spot the respective colors of school uniforms. Thus, school uniforms may not only be beneficial on campus, but may also be useful off campus.
An additional upside of school uniforms is that teachers often have to decide if outfits are appropriate or not. In many cases, this may lead to discussions with parents who do not agree with the opinion of teachers which may turn into serious disputes. By using school uniforms instead, there will be no discussions since they are mandatory and there should be no deviations from this dress code.
Not only will there be discussions between parents and teachers, but also between parents and their kids regarding their school outfit. Also those discussions could be eliminated through the introduction of mandatory school uniforms since there will simply be no choice, which could spare the nerves of parents as well as students.
One big problem of school uniforms is that children lose much of their individuality. They are no longer free to choose their clothes and to decide how to appear in public. This might be quite harmful for the personal character development.
Since life is hard sometimes, if children do not learn to form their character early on, chances are that they may also not be able to become a strong personality once they turn into grownups and may struggle with their daily life due to that.
Moreover, a loss of individuality also means a loss of variety of styles and attitudes for our society. Imagine everyone has the same opinion and no one would argue with each other. That would be quite boring in the long run, wouldn’t it?
Children may also lose their ability for critical judgement through the introduction of school uniforms. For instance, if you are forced to wear the same outfit every day, you will lose accountability regarding your decisions what you wear and the feedback of the general public towards it.
A lack of accountability may lead to serious issues in several parts of life once those children turn into grownups. Thus, eliminating critical judgement to a certain extent through the use of school uniforms may lead to serious issues for the respective children in the long run.
Many students also do not like school uniforms at all and want to wear other clothes instead. If those children are forced to wear school uniforms, this may lead to a negative attitude towards school and learning itself, which may unconsciously prevent those children to progress in the education system.
Even though it is often proclaimed that school uniforms are rather cheap, this does not have to be the case at all. In fact, depending on the school, school uniforms might be even more expensive compared to conventional clothes. This may lead to serious issues, especially for parents who suffer from poverty and unemployment since those parents may struggle to financially afford those school uniforms.
Every time you take away decisions from children, they lose the ability to grow in character and to develop inner confidence. The decision regarding clothing might not seem to be a big deal, but it will still take away the ability of children to express themselves and to deal with the feedback related to it.
Strong characters are usually built through criticism and negative experiences. As adults, we experience those negative events quite often. Therefore, through the introduction of school uniforms, we take away the opportunity of children to deal with adversity in a proper manner, which may hurt them in the long run for their adult life.
Another issue of school uniforms is that they might not even fit children properly and kids may not want to wear them since they simply feel uncomfortable. For a good learning experience, it is crucial that students feel comfortable in their clothes so they can pay attention to school lessons rather than to worry about the proper fit of their clothes.
Thus, by refraining from mandatory school uniforms, students could choose clothes in which they feel most comfortable in, which may not only improve their overall well-being, but may also lead to more efficient learning experiences in school since kids may be able to focus much better.
Since through school uniforms, it is quite easy to see to which school a student belongs, the reputation of whole schools might be damaged by criminal or violent actions of a few students of the respective school. Thus, school uniforms might also be a serious danger for the reputation of educational facilities.
Since school uniforms are often quite conservative, chances are that gender inequality might be enforced subconsciously.
For instance, while boys may wear ties and uniforms that are more related to the business world, girls may be forced to wear skirts instead.
Therefore, critics of school uniforms also often claim that school uniforms enforce gender inequality.
It has often been observed in the past that school kids wearing school uniforms had been victims to attacks from children who do not wear school uniforms. Thus, even though supporters of school uniforms claim that the level of bullying might decrease, the opposite might be true in practice.
Since students are not able to express themselves through individual looks with clothing, they may choose to express themselves by using more extreme tools like piercings or tattoos.
Thus, introducing school uniforms might be questionable if this leads to significant increases in those more extreme expressions of individuality which children may regret in the future.
Even though with the use of school uniforms, students may feel quite connected and committed inside their school which may be a good thing, there might be some trouble with other schools.
Through the use of school uniforms, it is easy to recognize who belongs to which school. This may lead to several issues since schools may not only develop rivalry, but also serious conflicts with each other over time.
School uniforms may also violate religious beliefs of individuals. For instance, in religions like the Islam, Islamic headscarfs are quite important for female students in order to comply with their religion. However, if those headscarfs are forbidden by schools, this may be considered to be a serious violation of religious freedom.
Another issue related to the use of school uniforms is that parents may not be wiling to accept those uniforms for their children. This may be due to religious or cultural concerns, but also simply since they want to preserve their kids’ freedom. This may lead to extensive discussions between schools and parents which may even result in lawsuits in some extreme cases.
One alternative to mandatory school uniforms would be to have classes that aim to reduce the overall level of discrimination. If we are able to teach children a sense of community that does not depend on fancy clothes, gadgets and other material things, we would not need school uniforms at all. In fact, this kind of education would allow to raise the awareness of children on core values, which may greatly benefit our society later on.
In order to strengthen the sense of community of students, teachers could take students out for group activities. By doing so, the team spirit among students would likely increase, which may also lead to a better team spirit in class in the long run. Thus, school uniforms may not be necessary to increase the level of team spirit at all if students learn to respect and value each other through those team activities.
Personal development is key for building inner confidence, not only at school but also for all part of adult life.
Thus, teachers should individually develop this kind of confidence in students so that they are able to defend themselves against verbal attacks in school.
This may be much more important than wearing school uniforms in terms of social acceptance.
In order to raise the acceptance of school kids towards uniforms, teachers might allow students to design and create their own school uniform. By doing so, school kids may be perfectly fine with wearing those uniforms and may even be proud of. Thus, this may be another good alternative to conventional school uniforms.
School Uniform Pros
Kids may learn discipline
School attendence may increase
Reduction in conflicts
Reduction of insecurities
Identification of unwanted persons
Decrease in bullying
Sense of identification
Reduction in gang prevalence
Reduction in peer pressure
Less time needed for shopping
Faster morning routine
Easier age identification
Increase in tolerance
Reduction of prejudices
Excursions may become easier
Less room for discussions with parents
No long discussions at home
School Uniform Cons
Loss of individuality
May hinder children from critical thinking
Students may not like school uniforms
Also school uniforms can be expensive
Character development may suffer
Uniforms may not be comfortable
Reputation of schools may suffer
Gender discrimination may be enforced
Bullying from school uniform critics
Switch to extreme forms of expression
Trouble with other schools
Uniforms may violate religious aspects
Discussions and disputes with parents
The use of school uniforms is a quite controversial topic. There are several advantages and disadvantages regarding school uniforms.
In the context of self-development and inner confidence of students, there might be better options out there.
In the end, schools have to evaluate the pros and cons and decide if they want to introduce mandatory school uniforms or not.
About the author
My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people of all ages about our environmental problems and how everyone can make a contribution to mitigate these issues.
As I went to university and got my Master's degree in Economics, I did plenty of research in the field of Development Economics.
After finishing university, I traveled around the world. From this time on, I wanted to make a contribution to ensure a livable future for the next generations in every part of our beautiful planet.
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