The pro argument in the debate over school uniforms focuses on the positive effects of a dress code on a school and its students. According to the U.S. Department of Education, improved levels of discipline are observed when a school introduces a mandatory uniform policy for its students. It also states that incidents of theft and violent behaviour are reduced with the introduction of school uniforms, leading to a safer learning environment for all students and more respect toward teachers.
School uniforms can be expensive, but compared with the cost of at least five nonuniform outfits and shoes, parents can put the outlay into perspective. Arguably, clothes do not have to cost a small fortune, but anyone with kids knows about peer pressure and the latest trends. Some schools offer financial assistance to families on low incomes so they are able to purchase uniforms.
The Clearinghouse on Educational Policy and Management's research suggests that a mandatory school uniform policy has the potential to increase students' self-esteem and promote a feeling of community spirit within a school. When students have a sense of belonging to an institution, respect for teachers increases and attendance levels improve.
School uniforms make all students look the same, regardless of social class or financial situation. Students can be subjected to peer pressure to wear the latest designer clothes and sneakers when there is no school uniform policy in place. Pupils who choose to ignore fashion rules set by their contemporaries, or who cannot afford to buy expensive clothes, can be the victims of bullying at school when there is no dress code.
The Consortium to Prevent School Violence says that advocates of school uniforms believe discipline problems, suspensions and expulsions are reduced with the introduction of a school uniform policy. When all students are dressed the same, there is no visual difference between social groups. The U.S. Department of Education states that a uniform policy prevents gang members from wearing gang colours and insignia in school. As a result, gang-related incidents are potentially reduced and levels of discipline improve.
When all students wear school uniforms, school officials and security staff are able to identify anyone who should not be on the premises.