Public school settings are not always the professional learning environments that we hope for our children. There are many factors that create a school’s culture, one of them is the way that the students dress. Some schools try to control dress with dress codes, other schools opt for school uniforms. While school uniform policies have their critics, the positive effects of school uniforms overshadow the criticisms.
As stated by Holloman, LaPoint, Alleyne, Palmer & Sanders-Phillips (1996) “”Many school stakeholders—students, teachers, staff, families, community members, and elected officials— believe that uniforms… curb negative behaviors associated with student dress such as teasing, absenteeism, tardiness, gang-related activity, and school violence” (as cited by Mitch & Knechtle, 2003) and these beliefs are backed up by the fact that a large California school district reported to have made, “a remarkable decrease in….sex offenses, weapon offenses, assaults and battery offenses” (West, Tidwell, Bomba & Elmore 1999) after having implemented a school uniform policy. Mixing words such as “murder” and “assault” with the thought of children’s safety is terrifying, but there are still other equally terrifying problems in schools that uniforms may alleviate.
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Another student safety area that should be considered is of outside violence coming in to our children’s schools. Cohn (1996) asserts “Arguments for school uniforms include such claims as school uniforms promote student safety by making it easier to identify people who do not belong on school grounds” (as cited by West, Tidwell, Bomba & Elmore, 1999). Given the increased frequency of school shootings in recent years, it is of the utmost importance to be able to easily distinguish between those who do and do not belong in the school.
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