Research shows that the benefits of school uniforms are assumptions

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School uniforms have been the subject of discussion ever since their existence. Advocates argue that they reduce the likelihood of bullying and foster a greater sense of unity within the school. However, a new study shows that these arguments are completely unfounded…

Research shows that the benefits of school uniforms are assumptions
Photo: Raka Muhammad Iqbal Ismail – Unsplash

Criticism of school uniforms

Since the pandemic, school uniforms have come under pressure. Worldwide, more and more parents are complaining about the associated costs. These costs can be extremely high, partly due to the monopolistic positions of suppliers.

There is also increasing criticism from students themselves. They often face sexist dress codes. The rules for girls are usually stricter than those for boys. For example, girls are required to cover up more than boys because bare body parts are believed to evoke erotic feelings in the opposite sex. In an era where more and more young people identify as gender-fluid or gender-neutral, such dress codes provoke a lot of resistance.


There’s a solution for everything

Despite the criticism, most schools do not opt for a definitive abolition of uniforms. Some manage to reduce costs by offering uniforms at various retail outlets. Competition leads to lower prices. Additionally, there are increasingly initiatives where parents can buy second-hand uniforms.

Criticism of the sexist dress code has long been ignored by schools. However, with the advent of social media, more attention is being paid to students’ voices. They make TikTok videos about it, and no school wants to appear negatively in them.

Research shows that the benefits of school uniforms are assumptions

Schools often continue to use uniforms because they believe it improves the behavior and engagement of students. These are not baseless arguments, as demonstrated by an earlier American study. However, it’s worth noting that this study dates back to 1999 and times have changed.

For the new research, 6,320 children were followed from their kindergarten years until the end of elementary school. A teacher evaluated the children each year on three aspects: externalizing behavior problems such as aggression or vandalism, social skills, and internalizing behavior problems such as anxiety and social withdrawal. The attendance of students was also noted.

According to Arya Ansari, a professor of humanities at Ohio State University, the prevailing perception is inaccurate. “Many of the core arguments about why school uniforms are beneficial for student behavior do not hold up in our sample. (…) We did not see much difference in our behavioral measures, regardless of whether schools had a uniform policy or not.”

The researchers concluded that students did not exhibit better behavior in schools where uniforms were mandatory. Only students from poorer families were more likely to attend school when uniforms were worn. However, this difference turned out to be negligible.


A new era

It’s interesting to see how the influence of school uniforms has changed over the past twenty years. I think this is due to the fact that dress codes worldwide are becoming increasingly informal. People are attaching less importance to formal clothing, and as a result, the uniform has lost its power. Also, the public resistance of parents to the costs will have an effect on students’ behavior. The uniform is no longer something to wear with pride, but in the eyes of students, perhaps outdated and unnecessary.

What do you think of school uniforms? Are you, despite the new research results, still in favor, or do you think they should be scrapped?

Best regards,


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