At one time, the only schools in America in which the students were required to wear uniforms were privately run institutions. However, the Orlando Sentinel states that 18 percent of public schools, as of 2011, have uniform policies, rising from just 3 percent in 1996. Proponents of uniforms in public schools think that wearing uniforms reduces pressure on kids to wear expensive clothes and helps to instill discipline, but not everyone agrees.
Decreased Crime Among Students
Advocates of school uniforms believe that a uniform policy can help reduce crime rates within public school systems and make schools safer places for both students and faculty. When required to dress alike, no one student can wear an expensive piece of designer clothing or shoes that another student might be willing to fight over or steal. Students wearing the same clothes cannot bully or torment other kids for dressing differently or not having the money to purchase costly items, thereby reducing altercations.
Reduced Opportunities for Intruders
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for third parties to enter public places, like schools, and commit acts of violence. While no school can protect itself 100 percent from such incidents, mandating a uniform policy can make it easier for faculty and school security to identify intruders, according to the Department of Education. Anyone not wearing a uniform will stand out from the crowd and can be questioned, removed or otherwise dealt with more quickly, as blending in with the students is not possible.
Reduction in Cliques and Gangs on Campuses
Many students live in fear of becoming the object of scorn, mockery or worse from campus cliques and gangs in the school system. These groups can bully, threaten and attack others, sometimes using violence or tactics that have serious consequences. With a uniform policy, it's harder for such groups to form and more difficult for gangsters to identify themselves as gang members, denying them necessary cohesion, according to the Public School Review website, which adds that wearing uniforms also prevents an accidental wearing of gang colors.
Increased Legal Issues
While school uniform policies have many supporters in and outside of the educational community, detractors sometimes answer back to uniform regulations with litigation. For schools with strained budgets, the cost of legal proceedings can be prohibitive. One Indiana family filed a suit against their school district, stating a uniform policy "violates their children's constitutional right of free expression and that it violates the guarantee of a free public education," by forcing them to purchase uniforms, according to USA Today. Going to court and potentially facing appeals only increases costs to school districts, meaning implementation of a uniform policy is not something to consider lightly.
Hallie Engel is a food and lifestyle writer whose work has appeared in several international publications. She served as a restaurant critic for "Time Out Abu Dhabi" and "Time Out Amsterdam" and has also written about food culture in the United Arab Emirates for "M Magazine." She holds a bachelor's degree in communications and film studies from University of Amsterdam.