School uniforms and their level of effectiveness is a pretty hot button issue for parents, schools and kids alike. Schools are trying to figure out ways to ensure students have the best possible environment for learning. Parents are trying to protect and nurture their kids and help them become the best version of themselves they can be. The kids are just trying to make it day to day while figuring out who they are.
The challenging part is many parents have different values and beliefs. School uniforms are one of the ways that schools are trying to level the playing field for students. Do public school uniforms really prevent bullying and violence? I think it’s safe to say almost everyone would like to see bullying and violence prevented in schools, but are uniforms the answer? Let’s take a look at some of the statistics and see what experts are saying.
A Closer Look At School Uniforms And How It Effects School Violence
When Did School Uniforms in Public Schools Begin?
Uniforms used to be something you mainly saw at private schools, but that all changed in 1994 when the Long Beach California School district implemented public school uniforms. According to Public School Review and statistics from the National Center for Education, within one year this school reported fights and muggings decreased by 50% and sexual offenses saw a 74% drop. This information fueled many schools who were dealing with behavioral issues and violence to jump on the bandwagon and start implementing uniforms.
Which Students Are Wearing Uniforms In Public Schools Now?
In 2012, we were seeing the following types of schools implementing uniforms according to the National Center For Education Statistics.
- 20% of US public Elementary Schools
- 12% of Public Post- Secondary Schools
- 30% of Combined Age Public Schools
There are also currently a large number of schools in city areas wearing uniforms compared to suburban and rural schools. Schools that had a higher free lunch program (with 75% or more of students in the school receiving lunch) and were more likely to be schools where poverty is an issue are more likely to be wearing uniforms. 47 % of schools with a higher free lunch program reported a school uniform policy. Compare that to 6% of schools who reported implementing school uniforms in lower poverty schools, or schools that had 25% or less of students participating in the free lunch program.
Do School Uniforms Reduce Violence?
The reviews are still mixed as to the effectiveness. According to a study at the University of Nevada, Reno 41% of students reported that there was less gang activity at school since uniforms had been implemented It is also notable that females students in this survey were reporting more benefits to school uniforms than male students. 90% of students reported they did not like wearing uniforms feeling they reduced their individuality, free speech, and self-expression. In a similar survey, a school board in Osceola County School Board reports seeing a 46% reduction in gang activity since implementing a uniform policy. The real question is this reduction of violence something we perceive or are there actual changes happening that are impacted by uniforms? Other schools such as a researcher from The University of Missouri-Columbia are citing that despite the hype, uniforms are not actually tackling the issues.
Do you think school uniforms are decreasing school violence? Are school uniforms covering up bigger issues in schools we need to solve? Tell me your opinions in the comments!
Image Credit: Kelly Hunter