School uniforms have been around for over a century in the private school sector of the United States. In the 1980s school officials in California began considering mandatory school uniforms in public schools as a way of decreasing gang related violence. The ensuing debate gained momentum in January of 1996 when President Clinton endorsed the idea in his State of the Union Address. The issue of requiring school uniforms in public schools is still a heated debate today.
Supporters credit the use of school uniforms as one factor in the reduction of the amount of violence occurring in schools. "A February 1996 survey by the National Association of Secondary School Principals found that 70% of middle and high school principals believed that uniforms reduced the number of discipline problems and violent incidents in school" ("Uniforms Rule"). "In Long Beach, California, where the nation's first mandatory school uniform policy was implemented in the district's elementary and middle schools in 1994, officials reported a 36% decline in school-based crime within one year of the policies implementation" (Viadero). Several school officials believe that mandatory uniforms hinder gang violence by preventing the display of gang-related colors, symbols, and name brands. Many advocates also believe school uniforms help prevent crimes such as robbery, assault, and even murder that may occur over expensive clothing.
In addition to reducing school violence, supporters believe school uniforms raise students' self-esteem. Some proponents say uniforms may lead to a reduction in peer pressure, teasing and bullying. Keith King of the University on Cincinnati published a study in which he states, "overall students in uniform felt more like a team. Students feel connected to the school and they feel like they fit in" ("Uniforms Rule"). Most parents and school officials agree that the desire to feel peer acceptance is a strong force that drives many of...
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