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School Uniforms and Self Esteem Essay

Pages:6 (1683 words)



Topic:School Uniforms

Document Type:Essay


On Wearing School Uniforms

One of the biggest problems that teens face in school is the problem of peer pressure. As Bandura (2018) notes, the pressure to adapt one’s behavior in order to fit in or stand out comes from media, peers and groups—and in a school, peers are the biggest factor. One way to alleviate that pressure is to create an environment in which everyone fits in ipso facto—and that can easily be achieved by obliging all students to wear a school uniform. One is used to seeing students of private schools wear uniforms, but in public schools this idea is typically shunned. There are good arguments to be made, however, for uniforms to be mandated by public schools. First off, research has shown that school uniforms actually promote good conduct among students and more formal adherence to the rules and regulations of the school. Second, parents and teachers support the idea. Third, it is a way to level the playing field and keep teens from thinking about how they should look: focus can be on books instead of on looks. Fourth, uniforms can instill greater confidence in students by helping to create an environment in which self-esteem and self-actualization can be achieved. While there is no real consensus among researchers as to what the empirical justification for school uniforms is, this paper will argue that school uniforms are simply a common sense way to help reduce peer pressure in public schools and get young students focused on believing in themselves, in each other, and in their school. Thus, this paper will show that school uniforms can promote positive self-esteem and self-belief in elementary school age children.

The good conduct basis for this argument comes from a study by Stanley (1996) on the Long Beach Unified School District, which in 1994 made uniforms mandatory for all K-8 students. Long Beach was the first public school district in the nation to mandate uniforms, and Stanley (1996) conducted a two-year study of the students of the school district from 1993 to 1995 to see if there was any correlation between the implementation of the uniform policy and alterations in student behavior. Stanley (1996) found that indeed there was a correlation: significant improvement in the conduct of the district’s nearly 100,000 students was demonstrated following the mandatory adoption of school uniforms. Suspension rates declined 28% in the elementary schools and 36% in the middle schools; fights decreased by 51% in grades K-8, and assault and battery incidents decreased 34% in the elementary and middle schools (Stanley, 1996). In short, a significant correlation between uniform-wearing in public schools and improved student conduct was evident.

The statistically significant findings of Stanley’s (1996) study are convincing in their own right—but parents and teachers bring another perspective to the argument that shows how simply from a common sense perspective adopting school uniforms in public schools can be beneficial. For example, the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) and uniform manufacturer Lands’ End surveyed school leaders across the nation and found that the overwhelming majority of them believe…

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…difficult it can be to control for all variables or to test a hypothesis such as this one. Different researchers may approach the issue with their own biases, which they are unable to filter or bracket out. Or their methodologies may differ significantly, leading to differences in samples and sample sizes. The fact is that there has been no gold standard study conducted to see if there is any statistically significant difference in achievement and self-esteem between students who do not wear uniforms and students who do. The reason for this is that it is essentially impossible to control for all the variables that might impact such a study. Uniforms, one must admit, are but one part of the equation. Families, parents, neighborhoods, media—all these elements also play a part, as Bandura (2018) observes in his study on what influences behavior.

In conclusion, there is much evidence that shows how much of an impact school uniforms can have on student achievement and self-esteem. The Long Beach study, for example, showed how influential uniforms can be. Parents and teachers have all argued that uniforms make it so much easier for students to focus on what matters—their studies. Common sense suggests that when students where uniforms they are more likely to feel accepted and part of a whole rather than as rejects or outsiders who must try to find a way to fit in. All the evidence may not be in, but what has been produced signals that school uniforms help a lot more than they could possibly hurt.

Sample Source(s) Used


Bandura, A. (2018). Toward a psychology of human agency: Pathways and reflections.  Perspectives on Psychological Science, 13(2), 130-136.

Bodine, A. (2003). School uniforms, academic achievement, and uses of research. The Journal of Educational Research, 97(2), 67-71.

Caruso, P. (1996). Individuality vs. conformity: The issue behind school uniforms.  NASSP Bulletin, 80(581), 83-88.

Fox, K. R., & Lindwall, M. (2014). Self-esteem and self-perceptions in sport and exercise. In Routledge Companion to Sport and Exercise Psychology (pp. 58-72). Routledge.

Murray, R. K. (1997). The impact of school uniforms on school climate. NASSP Bulletin, 81(593), 106-112.

NAESP. (2013). National Survey of School Leaders Reveals 2013 School Uniform Trends. Retrieved from

School connectedness: Strategies for increasing protective factors among youth. (2010). Reclaiming Children and Youth, 19(3), 20-24.

Stanley, M. S. (1996). School uniforms and safety. Education and Urban Society, 28(4), 424-435.

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