Uniform Improvements

Discusses issue on school uniforms. Reactions of students to the idea of having school uniforms; Effect of mandating uniform on overall crime in the school district of Long Beach, California; Relevance of school uniform in reducing classroom tensions.

By Camille Chatterjee, published on September 1, 1999 - last reviewed on January 23, 2015

DISCIPLINE

Forget squelching personal choice and freedom of expression. When
kids see a polyester plaid school uniform, their first thought is:
"Yuck." But statistics now show that making students don the traditional
kilts and blazers actually reduces school crime.

In 1995, parents in Long Beach, Calif., decided that putting
schoolkids in matching clothes would steer the classroom focus away from
sporting the right shoes and hack to learning. The numbers agreed: Since
they mandated uniforms five years ago, overall crime in the school
district has dropped by a startling 91%. Suspensions are down 90%, sex
offenses have been reduced by 96% and vandalism has gone down 69%. Arnold
Goldstein, Ph.D., head of the Center for Research on Aggression at
Syracuse University, believes uniforms work by promoting a sense of
community,, allowing troubled students to feel part of a supportive
whole. Says Goldstein: "There is a sense of belonging."

As violence in schools becomes more and more of a concern across
the country, educators and parents alike are examining every means
possible, including school uniforms, to reduce classroom tensions. While
some people claim uniform clothing won't alleviate the anger or
instability lurking within potentially dangerous students, the Long Beach
experiment proves the system may be worth a shot.

PHOTO (COLOR): As violence in schools becomes more and more of a
concern across the country, educators and parents alike are examining
every means possible, including school uniforms, to reduce classroom
tensions.