School uniforms have been praised for reducing the risk of violence and crime in schools, and focusing the attention of students on classwork and academics rather than fashion and appearances. Despite such accolades, school uniforms have caused a dramatic debate, with many people pointing out the many cons of forcing students to wear school uniforms.
Uniforms Limit Individuality and Self-Expression
Forcing students to wear uniforms limits their ability to express themselves and showcase their individuality. Typical students express themselves by wearing certain clothes and looking a certain way. When students are required to dress identically, they lose the freedom to choose and their rights of self expression. Many advocates against having a dress code argue that encouraging conformity can backfire and may lead students to express themselves through hair style, make-up, piercings or even negative behaviours.
Uniforms Do Not Eliminate Competition and Value of Appearances
Many people who support school uniforms argue that requiring students to dress the same gets rid of competition between students, reduces the value of appearances, and eliminates the differences between socioeconomic groups. Those against school uniforms argue that making uniforms mandatory ultimately fails to level the differences between wealthy and poor students because there are other ways for students to demonstrate status. For instance, females from wealthier households may still wear expensive jewellery, make up, manicures and other accessories to express their wealth.
Uniforms are Uncomfortable and Unpopular
Many students strongly dislike wearing uniforms. Instead of feeling confident about their appearance, many students that wear uniforms feel uncomfortable and unhappy. People who are against the enforcement of school uniforms worry that forcing students to wear clothes they do not want to wear may depress them and can ultimately impair their performance at school.
Uniforms Do Not Make Schools Safer
One of the most common reasons used to support the use of school uniforms is the belief that uniforms make schools safer. However, uniforms do not erase all of the underlying causes for bullying and teasing. Crimes such as theft can still occur since school uniforms will also not prevent students from bringing other objects, such as jewellery or electronics to school. School uniforms also do not prevent serious incidents from occurring: intruders can easily put on a uniform or appear to be a maintenance worker.
Depending on the type of uniform a school selects, school uniforms may possibly be less expensive than typical clothes for students. However, forcing students to wear school uniforms also requires parents to purchase more clothes for their children, as they will need school clothes and clothes for home. This can be a costly task and can financially strain many families.