Protect our students through school uniforms

By Kina Carney
Philadelphia, Pa.

In 2011, 10-year-old Jasmine McClain, of Chadbourn Elementary School in North Carolina, committed suicide because she had been bullied. Over the course of a month, students made fun of Jasmine’s clothes and shoes. McClain’s mother, Samantha West, told a local news station at the time: “She was a loving child. I just don’t understand.”

Bullying in school may be a delicate subject for some, but it happens to many students in some way or form. As in Jasmine’s case, clothing may be the cause of bullying. In many cases, clothing reflects a student’s economic background. American public schools should consider school uniforms for this reason. 

My own high school does not require students to wear uniforms, their reasoning being that college students are not required to wear them. One can assume that most students appreciate not having to wear a uniform, because it allows freedom of expression.

However, I believe that if students are required to wear a standard uniform, a decrease in bullying will follow. Tracey Marinelli, superintendent of the Lyndhurst School District, told NorthJersey.com: “It is very easy for kids to get picked on for wearing the same clothes over and over or something that’s not in style … This [wearing uniforms] evens the playing field and gives us something more tangible.”

Students wearing popular trends or expensive brands tend to bully students who are not keeping up with these trends. As a result, victims of bullying due to their type of dress can lose self-esteem. This can result in tragic circumstances.

For families, uniforms can be more affordable than spending money on clothes for different seasons or clothes that keep up with trends. Working in a uniform store, I often hear parents complain about how expensive the uniforms are. What the parents fail to realize is that they are buying uniforms for the entire school year, which will most likely save them money in the long run.

Additionally, some parents can receive financial help to buy uniforms, such as vouchers or gift cards from their schools. Baltimore Community Foundation offers financial donations to families in Baltimore City public schools who need financial assistance to purchase uniforms.

Enforcing uniforms will not immediately end bullying, but it will reduce the stresses and troubles students endure. Schools should understand that not all families are financially equal. Implementing uniforms for students will help low-income families by reducing social pressure and bullying.

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