I know, I know. Kids don’t want to wear them. Parents don’t want to spend money on them, and they “limit individuality.” I’m talking about school uniforms. I have come to believe, however, that school uniforms are a good thing, whether for public or private schools, for at least three reasons.
If all the kids and staff are wearing school uniforms, it is much harder for a stranger to walk on a school campus and blend in. It’s much easier to see who belongs and who does not. Yes, I know someone of ill intentions could get a school uniform, but that’s the stuff of movies more than reality. School security these days is a big deal, and by having school uniforms, we take one step forward toward a more secure learning environment.
I remember it like it was yesterday. When I was in middle school, my parents had coughed up the money for me to buy a name-brand pair of jeans. I went out of my way to make sure people knew I had the best that money could buy. Even if a school does not have a dress code or uniforms, the students will make one. Kids must have the best, but not all families can afford this. By offering school uniforms, much of the jockeying for social status and envious emotions will be mitigated.
Choosing outfits on that first day of school and every day after becomes a huge deal, particularly for teens. Most parents want clothes more modest than their children, who are influenced by fashion trends and celebrities. Girls in particular, living in today’s “barbarians’ paradise” will be tempted to show too much skin or wear tight-fitting clothes, to attract guys. By having school uniforms, meanwhile, modesty can be built in. This will only create a better, more focused learning environment. Isn’t that the reason we send them to school in the first place?
Now, not every private school or school district can or will go for school uniforms (though Target, Wal-Mart and other retailers are making school uniforms much more affordable and attainable than ever). But more schools should think about the ways it could help, not just the school itself, but the young people, the families and the culture as a whole.