Standardized Dress Policy in Public Schools for Safety Essay

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The most easily observed information about a person is through clothing. Our clothing provides our identity, as viewed and noticed by the people around us (Pate, 1999). Teenagers represent themselves through their clothing. They are either an imitation of their favorite artists or something that is a popular craze in the fashion industry. This is a way for teenagers to connect to their peers and the society that they are in. When left to decide on what clothes to wear at school, student’s choices do not always agree with adults.

Adults’ ideas about what’s appropriate does not always match with teenagers nowadays. Adults believe as well as schools that student dresses and grooming is an important factor in safe and orderly operation of the schools. Each student’s appearance should reflect a positive image of the school and contribute to a distraction- free learning environment. That is why school dress codes were implemented. It is believed that through this the violence in school premises would be lessened and that students would be more focused on their studies (Lumsden & Miller, 2002).

Recently, schools across the country have experienced violence, gang activity and thefts. That is why many schools are aware of the need to provide a safe and conducive environment for their students and one of their actions is through the implementation of dress codes. One of the chief benefits of school uniforms as believed is that they provide a more disciplined and safe school. Uniforms help reduce gang influences, lessen violence by reducing the source of conflict and trespassers are easily identifiable making it easier for officials to regulate the environment.

Uniforms are said to help erase cultural and economic differences among students and sets a serious manner for studying. Parents concur to this because they believe that they no longer have to worry about their child’s safety and they would spend less on their child’s clothing. Uniforms have different significance and purposes within the school environment. Uniforms serve as a symbol of a group membership. This is a way for a group to identify themselves and to distinguish nonmembers easily. In addition to this school uniforms can illustrate the role of its members.

Uniforms also define group boundaries which helps promote goals and reduce conflict. Uniforms help establish discipline, cutting down the distraction by keeping students concentrated on their studies. According to the Center for Disease Control Prevention less than 1% of all homicides happen on school grounds or to students on their way to school. The public schools nowadays are experiencing a high percentage of violence dominating their community. In Florida, there were 264, 897 serious incidents related to school safety in public schools for the 1995-96 school years. Gang related violence and crimes continues to grow.

The problems faced by the school administrators and officials have been considerably high in the past twenty years. Reports on crisis in the public school are overwhelming. Student attendance and dropout rates are alarming, even the presence of drugs, weapons and other violence in many schools. This abundance of violence in schools has produced a sense of emergency for the school districts. As an outcome of this many school boards have implemented a mandatory dress code. The dress code prohibits the use of any clothing that is identified as a gang clothing. Some states have passed laws that allow public schools to wear school uniform.

Public schools nationwide have lone established the use of dress codes. The first one to adopt the dress policy was Cherry Hill elementary in Baltimore, Maryland on 1987. By the year 1994, Long Beach Unified School District was the first public school to implement a region wide uniform dress code policy. Former President Clinton was the one who formally introduced the idea of public school’s dress code policy and uniforms in his 1996 State of the union address. Following this idea, the U. S Department of education mailed a manual of school uniforms that was sent to all 16,000 different areas in the United States.

With this at hand administrators and other school officials began to adopt the dress code and uniform policy (Anderson). By the year 1992, there were a high percentage of elementary schools in New York under the dress codes. In 2000, the Philadelphia School Board generally agreed to a district wide policy requiring the use of uniforms. By the year 2000, places like Miami and Chicago required public schools to wear prescribed uniforms. Schools in San Francisco, Cincinnati, Boston, Cleveland and in New Orleans had school uniform programs.

Also in 2000, 37 state legislatures had endorsed legislation allowing local districts to set their own uniform policies. It is not yet clear how many have adopted and enforced dress code or uniform policy but the movement towards prescribing this code still runs with an argument (Anderson). In small Texas, 700 students were suspended in a single month for violating the zero tolerance dress code policy (Essex, 2004). These suspensions attracted national attention and threats of lawsuits by parents because it is believed to have violated rights.

The argument over dress code policy and uniforms still continues to broaden in the public schools throughout the country. The question that often argued is that do dress codes really decrease violence and increase the student’s performance? How far should administrators and school officials go in enforcing these dress codes? Many would agree but others still contest to it. Methodology This research paper will utilize the different documented studies conducted on the mandatory dress code. It will use the different study to address how effective is dress code on the safety of public students.

The paper will also focus on the effects of the dress code towards the students and their performance. It will also address the perception of the officials and other administrator about the effects of dress codes specifically in public schools and how it contributes to the environment and welfare of the school. It will also deal with court decision on how dress codes can be imposed. Data Analysis and Results A study was conducted on the influence of Mandatory School uniform policy on the academic achievement and discipline infringement on the school that was implemented with dress codes (Pate, 1999).

Student gender and type of school district were evaluated to show the weight of the policy. Subjects consisted of students from Southern Florida school district located mainly in rural areas. Results showed that elementary school students in both rural and urban school districts demonstrated improvement in academic achievement for the first year following the implementation of the school-uniform policy. The discipline infractions of out of school suspensions and juvenile referrals had statistically improved. However middle school students did have a significant decrease for the discipline for the year 1996-97.

The number of students that were not promoted to the next level had a significant effect on the district type and did not depend on their gender. Another study was focused on the reviews of court litigations involving the constitutional limitations on school authorities and school uniforms (Uerling, 1997). It concludes that although school officials have the authority to regulate student appearance they must be implemented within the bounds of the Constitution and the pertinent law. In 1999, a research was done on principals were they have to give their opinion on dress codes.

A total of 141 school administrators within four geographically different region were surveyed through a randomly from a national directory. Their investigation included principals from elementary, middle and high schools. Results show that about 85% of the principals believed that dress codes are needed in their schools. Most of the principals that were surveyed had already adopted the dress codes formally in their school. Most of them believed that the dress codes helped improved student behaviors, reduced sexual harassment and prepared the students a lot better for work (Wilson, 1999).

Another study was conducted on teachers regarding their impression of a strict dress code in Georgia elementary school in order to improve student’s behavior (Padgett, 1998). The teachers were given a 20 item Likert Scale questionnaire that was developed to measure the attitudes and feelings of teachers with regards to the effect of dress code policies on their students. This questionnaire was given to 44 teachers who educated grades 3, 4 and 5. Results showed that out of the 20 questions 18 showed a significant difference in the teachers’ response.

The percentage of responses marked “strongly agree” and “agree” was higher on the 15 items that was in favor of the hypothesis that favors strict dress codes. Teachers believed that student behaviors would get better in their academic if they are appropriately dressed. Discussion Analysis of the different studies conducted showed a positive regard on the implementation of dress codes especially towards the improvement of student behaviors that may account to their performances. The perception of principals and teachers also showed a positive attitude towards the implementation of a dress code.

It maybe evident on the conducted study that there is improvement but this does contain all the needed information regarding the effects of mandatory dress codes. Many maybe in favor of the dress codes because they believe that through this students would be more disciplined but there are still other consideration that has to be put up to it. Dress code policy has a good effect given the fact that dress codes are the implemented to help improve academics of student and promote a better environment as well but there is still a limitation towards this.

Dress code in school may show improvement and increase safety of the students to some extent but it is not the only policy that should be implemented on how to decrease violence at school. Administrators and other officials should also be aware that in imposing mandatory dress code that they can regulate the student’s appearance but they should also know a certain limitation towards that. They can implement but should be in practical and just for students. Courts also showed their favor towards regulating student’s appearance in order to avoid any problems and to provide students with favorable learning environment to students.

Strictness can be implemented but would still favor the students regarding their academics especially if it would lessen violence and increase student safety. Conclusion A dress is viewed as a form of self expression reflecting our values, cultural background and most of all our personality. Our preference towards our clothing differs depending on what we personally like or what others around us prefer. Teenager’s nowadays use clothing as a way to express themselves. Their clothing represents their peers, their favorites or the people that they admire or imitate.

Therefore, students must be provided with a chance for self- expression within reasonable limits. Student’s rights regarding dress must be balanced with the officials’ responsibility to provide a safe and secures environment for their students. For that reason, students have a responsibility to comply with reasonable dress standards and school officials as well needs to make certain that the rules being invoke do not overly restrict the personal rights of the student.

School officials who implement a zero tolerance dress code policies are expected to do it in a considerate and purposeful way, making sure that their approach is reasonable and legally defensible. To lessen arguments regarding dress codes and its policies, school officials need to assert effort in providing their student with information regarding their policy and must be reasonable to inform their students of the expectation regarding dress codes. Student dress maybe restricted if school officials can present concrete evidence that it communicates a message that appears to invite disorder (Essex, 2004).

Dress code itself cannot help solve all the violence in schools but this one way of contributing to a more disciplined and a safer environment. Through its implementation students are more disciplined and students are able to have a better environment. Gang activities and other school problems have decrease. Students are able to identify themselves to their school as well the school itself is identified through their students. Although dress code may help address violence and other problems at school especially safety further studies should be taken in to account on how school violence would be lessen.

There are still a lot of other matters to be considered in providing a safe environment for students. Other studies should be conducted on how personal clothing would influence educators in assisting students towards a healthier self esteem. Parents should also be included in the study of students’ behavior and attitudes towards their academic studies. The importance of clothing once replaced by academic accomplishments can be a means of improving students self worth. But still many variables and factors to consider in improving school environments that would enable students to prepare for greater academic challenges and healthier lifestyle.

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