Can School Uniforms Reduce School Violence?

School is an environment in which children learn. Basically, those things that encourage learning are acceptable and those things that discourage it are unacceptable. School violence is considered one of those unacceptable items and one of the ways in which school districts are discouraging school violence is by implementing school uniforms.

What is a school uniform?

The school uniform is either a formal or informal form of dress that some schools have implemented in order to curb violence and eliminate distractions in this important learning environment. Usually when individuals think of the school uniform, they think of plaid skirts on girls with little suit jackets and a scarf around their neck. For boys, the thought turns to dress pants and jackets with white shirts underneath and a tie to match the girls’ skirts.

But this is not necessarily so.

Some schools simply ask that their students wear a certain color dress shirt with khaki pants or another type of dress pant. This tends to be the more affordable form of uniform and one that parents rarely argue with.

The benefits

There are many potential benefits to the uniform. Those benefits include:

  • Decreased violence and theft that is usually the result of clothing and shoes problems
  • Reduced need for teachers to have to pay so much attention to dress code when there are other issues that need focus
  • Students are less distracted
  • A sense of community is instilled into the students
  • It is easier for school employees to recognize when someone doesn’t belong on campus
  • Gang colors are restricted

The issues tend to circle around personal opinion, such as parents and students believing that the implementation of school uniforms violates freedom of expression. There are some cases in which religious beliefs may come about.

The Supreme Court

In Tinker vs. Des Moines Independent Community school in 1969, the court said that a child’s freedom of expression must be preserved unless it would severely interfere with the requirements of discipline that is appropriate. However, a dissenting opinion was written by Justice Hugo Black that disagreed with this ruling.
Students are still protected under the Supreme Court ruling, but with more gang violence and more overall violence within the school, more are turning toward the idea of having school uniforms aid in the safety of students. School boards have the authority to decide whether or not students must wear uniforms and many of them are going this route. There has been evidence through a number of studies that have shown school uniforms are effective. There is less peer pressure to wear a certain thing, fewer students are having their new shoes stolen off of their feet, and the focus is on education rather than a number of other distractions that occur within schools.