In the 2009 to 2010 school year, school uniforms were required at 19 percent of public schools, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. This marked a significant increase from uniform use in public schools only 10 years earlier. The debate continues over whether schools should implement uniforms in all schools, with proponents focusing on a variety of emotional benefits for children in schools that require uniforms.
Reduced Focus on Clothing
When schools require uniforms, students are less likely to focus on clothing as a means for determining status. In public schools where uniforms are not required, lower income students may face ridicule over the less-expensive clothing options they wear, compared to the more expensive clothes their peers wear. When schools require uniforms, this competition does not exist and students exist on a more level playing field. This enables students to shift their focus towards schoolwork and away from clothing concerns, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
When schools require uniforms, students are required to take care of their appearance. Dressing in a uniform each day helps children take pride in how they present themselves to the world. This greater self-confidence can then translate into better academic performance and reduced social anxiety. A child who is attending a school that requires uniforms may be more comfortable expressing her unique gifts without focusing so much on outward appearance.
Increased Sense of Safety
Requiring school uniforms can lead to reduced violence, according to the U.S. Department of Education. This is because when students wear uniforms, it is more difficult for students to identify members of opposing gangs. When students wear uniforms, the rate of violence and theft decreases. This increased sense of safety can help students relax and increase their focus on schoolwork. When school violence is reduced, children are less likely to exhibit anxiety or fear surrounding violence.
Sense of Belonging
Uniforms can help to unite a school population and increase a sense of belonging among students. Just as team uniforms do the same in sporting, school uniforms help students to feel like part of a group, without needing to set themselves apart by focusing on outward appearance. An additional benefit also exists in that it is easy to recognize outsiders on campus quickly in a sea of uniforms.