What is one simple way we can keep our school children safe, save money on school clothing and make it easier for teachers and school staff to make sure our children are safer on and off-campus? As well as instill a sense of community and pride in our children at the same time. By a change as simple as enforcing school uniforms.
With all of the violence in today’s world especially facing our children, we have to do all we can to protect them to the very best of our ability, not only as parents but also as a community. It takes a village, right? One of the ways that we can protect our children and keep them safer during their school day is by enforcing school uniforms. it’s stated that it’s easier to identify intruders that don’t belong on a school campus because they aren’t wearing the designated uniforms and will stick out (Ayers n.d.). Threats are not just from the student body, it could come from any outside source in our communities. Mandatory uniforms won’t stop all violence on school campuses but every little thing we can do as a community will help ensure the safety of our children.
Another way that school uniforms help keep children safe is they may help identify students that may be off-campus for an educational trip. School uniforms can help locate students that belong in the school’s group in case they get separated, or they can also help identify students that are not where they are supposed to be during school hours, such as skipping school for the day.
Furthermore, one more way our children are being kept safe by wearing uniforms is through keeping everyone looking the same while in school, there is no comparison of some children having certain articles of clothing or nicer things than other children who may not be able to afford the same things. There’s no separation of the “have and the have nots” they help eliminate victimization and harassment. Uniforms also help prevent violence by the display of gang colors and theft (Chen 2008). Uniforms also make it harder to discern different socio-economic statuses between the children. The children can still have their individual identities and express themselves and an individual by choosing things such as hairstyles, possibly nail polish colors, some jewelry, even their shoes, uniforms don’t have to be as rigid such as plaid skirts, button-down shirts, and ties they can be as simple as khakis and polo shirts. When my oldest son was in elementary school his uniform consisted of either white, tan, or navy polo shirts and khaki pants. When he was in middle school the parents had the option of buying maroon t-shirts with the school logo on it or they could wear maroon polos and khakis, everyone had the same colors but they were able to express themselves as individuals by choosing the color of their polo or what style of maroon shirt they wanted to wear that day. The attention isn’t focused on one child having things such as the latest designer jeans, or the hottest new jacket that another child may not be able to afford, they are more focused on their academics. Statistics show that school uniforms are beneficial, one study in California states that The Long Beach California school district began enforcing uniforms in 1994, and in that first-year school fights and violence had decreased by 50% and sexual offenses were reduced by 74%(Chen 2008). According to Melissa Kelly in a 2019 article, The children that were killed in the Columbine massacre in 1999, most of the children targeted we killed partly because of what they wore (Kelly 2019). It’s impossible to say that this tragedy would have occurred if a uniform policy had been in place, but the likelihood may have been reduced. While students may not like having to wear uniforms, they do agree for the most part that they do retain their identity, and about half of the children agreed that the uniforms do save their parents money (Wilde, n.d).
The cost of buying school clothes of course is a concern for parents, as any parent or guardian knows the beginning of the school year is filled with expenses, such as buying everything to make sure the children are successful, school supplies, lunches, and clothing can become very costly. Schools that do enforce uniforms have found creative ways to help ease the cost for a parent that may find a difficult time paying for the mandatory items. According to Belinda Luscombe, Most children don’t want to wear their uniforms a moment longer than necessary, so when they are no longer needed or they have been outgrown families may be able to donate gently used clothing back to the school which can then be passed along to other students at a reduced cost for parents (Luscombe 2014).
The average cost of school uniforms in the U.S. is approximately $150 per year. Of course, stores offer sales at the beginning of the school year on children’s clothing. Many organizations are out there to help struggling parents, establishments such as the Salvation Army or churches. There is a list that has been compiled that provides families with information on where to get help with resources in most states. The information provided gives people direction on how to get help, such as from the Salvation Army, grants for school uniforms, charity drives, and churches. And of course, not having to decide what to wear on a daily basis makes getting ready for school either the night before or the morning much easier on both the students and their parents.
With everything that children and parents need to be concerned about in their daily lives, safety, bullying, and the cost of school clothes should not be the majority of their concerns. School uniforms will help give parents and guardians peace of mind that their children are as safe as they can be during the day and they have that they have all they need to be successful in their school career.