With school starting this month, I recently bought my 12-year-old son clothes for the entire year.
The process took about five minutes.
I grabbed five navy polo shirts and five pair of khakis at a department store. Done.
My son, Connor, didn’t even need to accompany me.
Simplicity is just one reason school uniforms are so great. They end the tug-of-war between parents and kids over which clothes to buy and how much to spend. Uniforms also eliminate the student’s morning indecision over what to wear.
But mandatory uniforms accomplish a much greater end: They help reduce the harmful and all-too-rampant peer pressure among kids.
For instance, if Hannah is wearing a designer outfit from a chic store and Bekah is wearing pants from Walmart, Bekah may feel inferior and be subtly (or not so subtly) ridiculed. Likewise, if Brandon has the latest $100-plus Air Jordans and Luke has generic shoes from Payless, how do you think Luke will feel about himself?
Seriously, is there any reason for uniforms not to be mandatory at every campus – both public and private? I can’t think of one.
Most private schools have long required uniforms. Now more public schools are adopting the policy.
About 19 percent of public schools required uniforms in 2009-2010 – an increase from 12 percent a decade earlier, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
Why the jump?
Many reasons for requiring uniforms
Besides reducing peer pressure, school uniforms encourage discipline, foster school unity and even lessen campus violence, according to this article on greatschools.org.
In addition, some studies show that uniforms can improve academic performance.
Critics argue that uniforms inhibit a student’s freedom of expression.
Please. Is the primary purpose of school to foster a kid’s individuality? No, it’s to get a quality education to improve the chances of success in life. Kids can still show their fashion sense after school and on the weekends.
School bullying is getting a lot of press these days. Actually, I think the issue is overblown. How many kids truly cower in fear of a handful of mean classmates?
On the other hand, peer pressure is much more insidious and difficult to stamp out than random acts of bullying.
If a policy as benign as requiring uniforms might reduce peer pressure and increase the focus on education, why not try it?
Schools that don’t require uniforms should answer that question.