Best of Freshman Writing
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Last updateded July 2, 2012.
PSU – Berks
Are Mandatory School Uniforms Helping to Prevent Bullying?
The current trend with school uniforms is to require students to wear certain colors and types of clothing but to allow them to decide what color and style they want to wear each day. The problem with that is that the school isn’t requiring the clothes to be from the same place, so families still buy what they can afford. Some students will wear popular, high-end brand names, while others will wear clothes from stores like Kmart or Walmart. An article that was written by the editor at a local high school newspaper comments on the issues that have been raised after her school required uniforms in an attempt to help decrease bullying based on families’ economic statuses. “Some students feel that they get teased now more than ever since their clothing is now more recognizable due to the bland coloring and look of the clothing” (Ayer). By forcing the students to wear uniforms, students that could have shopped at places like TJ Maxx, where they sell name brand clothes more cheaply, and wore clothes so none of their peers knew that their families’ money was tight are being exposed to their peers. Consequently, they are now getting teased and bullied because of a rule the school imposed to help decrease just that.
Another problem with forcing students to wear school uniforms is that some kids can’t cover up their insecurities, like they could by wearing turtleneck shirts or sweatshirts, for example. Ashley Peak a student intern guidance counselor at a local middle school that requires the students to wear uniforms, told me that she deals with students having body image problems and students being bullied because of their bodies daily. Their school uniforms for boys are khaki pants, a certain colored polo, and dress shoes. The girls’ uniforms can either be khaki pants, or a skirt, with a polo and dress shoes. These uniforms expose some students in ways that they are not comfortable with. I recently talked with one student, whom we will call Lauren to keep her identity anonymous, who has eczema all over her legs and arms. She said before the school imposed their school uniforms, she could wear long pants and sweatshirts and none of her peers knew that she had eczema, but with the school uniforms, she could no longer hide her skin. She unfortunately started to stay home from school, faking illnesses just so she didn’t have to wear the uniform and have her peers ridicule and judge her. Hearing this makes me wonder if the school’s list of reasons to switch to the uniforms outweighed a huge flaw in uniforms, which is making their students uncomfortable either by what they’re wearing or the skin they are exposing.
In theory, school uniforms should put an end to bullying, but they don’t. That is because kids bully each other for many reasons. They bully them because of their clothing, their popularity status, friend choices, and many things that are out of their control. School uniforms only take care of one of those problems and only if the uniforms are gone about in the right way. Kids are going to pick on other kids regardless if they are all wearing the same clothes because the clothes are not the only reason someone is being picked on. A jock will still be a jock even if he is wearing the same thing as a nerd; putting them in the same clothes doesn’t change popularity status. It doesn’t matter if all the kids are wearing the same thing; they will just become pickier and dig deeper with their insults (“Facts against”). A significant part of bullying now is cyberbullying, and putting everyone in a uniform doesn’t affect cyberbullying at all. The bottom line is that kids will not stop bullying just because everyone is wearing the same thing because bullying is so much more than making fun of someone’s clothes.
School uniforms can be a part of the solution to school disciplinary issues; in theory school uniforms allow the students to spend less time worrying over what everyone, themselves included, is wearing. Unfortunately, most students are judgmental and become pickier about each person and what they are wearing. If schools decide they want their students to wear school uniforms for whatever reason, they should make all the students have to purchase the same uniform from the same place, to allow all the children to be “equal” with regards to their outfits. Schools also should take into consideration that some students may have body image issues and should allow the students to wear a sweater or sweatshirt whenever they want with their uniform. School uniforms are not necessarily a bad thing, but schools really need to take a close look at their list of pros and cons before requiring them in the school.
Ayer, Jessica. “Uniforms Not Helping to Decrease Bullying in School.” Oracle, n.d. Web. 27 Sep. 2011.
“Facts against School Uniforms.” Education.newarcheology, n.d. Web. 2 Oct. 2011.
Lauren. Personal Interview. 28 Sep. 2011.
Peak, Ashley. Personal Interview. 28 Sep. 2011.
Wilde, Marian. “Do Uniforms Make Schools Better?” GreatSchools, n.d. Web. 27 Sept. 2011.
Chelsea Hartzman's essay appears here with her express written permission and cannot be reproduced in any manner or fashion without her express written permission.