Should High School Students Wear Uniforms?

Marcelina Hardy, MSEd, BCC
High school uniforms

There are differing opinions on whether uniforms school be required in high schools. It's important to consider the pros and cons specific to teenagers when making up your mind about this controversial question.

High School Uniform Pros

High schools require students to wear uniforms for many good reasons. Here are some of the advantages.

Displays School Pride

Wearing uniforms can be a great way for high schoolers to show pride for their institutions. Schools often want their students to proudly wear attire with the school's symbol embroidered somewhere on the outfit.

Preserves School Integrity

Some secondary schools want to choose what teenagers wear so they can ensure no one wears something indecent that would potentially harm the school's reputation.

Emphasizes Education

Teenagers who wear uniforms don't face ridicule from other students when they are unable to wear the latest styles. The elimination of this type of bullying can preserve self-esteem and keep the focus on education.

Decreases School Violence

A September 1999 article from Psychology Today reported that after a Long Beach, California school adopted uniforms their crime rate dropped by 91 percent, school suspensions dropped by 90 percent, sex offenses decreased by 96 percent and vandalism incidences declined by 69 percent.

High School Uniform Cons

The use of uniforms in high schools can help students and school officials in many ways, but it's not without it's downfalls.

Suppresses Individuality

Adolescence is a time of self-discovery and expression. This expression is common through what teenagers wear. Requiring a uniform deprives adolescents of the ability to express themselves through clothing, which could result in expressing themselves in other inappropriate ways.

Promotes Rebellious Behavior

Adolescents struggle to break away from parents and other authority figures to find their own identity. In the process, they often reject restraints put on them, including uniforms. Teenagers may resist the uniform by refusing to wear it, changing it, or engaging in risky or deviant behavior.

Costs More Money

Uniforms can be expensive, and they are usually not worn outside of school. Parents may also have to endure the added expense of buying trendy teen clothing for functions outside of school.

Uncomfortable and Distracting

While some uniform advocates may say that they promote better learning environments, critics argue that some are uncomfortable, which may distract students.

Affects Transition to Adulthood

Some critics warn that uniforms may inhibit successful transition to adulthood. Since teenagers are told what to wear each day, they haven't learned which types of clothing are considered appropriate or inappropriate in certain settings.

Another consideration is that since teenagers had to wear uniforms for years, they may not be as willing to dress as professional when they don't have to anymore, which could become a problem with some jobs.

The Great Uniform Debate

The great uniform debate continues and there doesn't seem to be a satisfactory conclusion for both teens and school officials. Many teens find that uniforms are boring and wish they could wear something much more their style. School officials want uniforms so teens can forget what they are wearing and how they look so they can pay attention to the real reason why they are in school. Answer the question of whether uniforms should be required in secondary schools involves determining what you believe are the true influences of them on teenagers and their education.

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Should High School Students Wear Uniforms?