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Do Mandatory Uniforms Reduce School Violence?

Family Safety Expert Advice from Gavin de Becker

Q: Given the recent climate of school violence, do you think mandatory school uniforms will reduce this violence?

A: I believe that school uniforms can reduce violence, and also that they help in other ways as well. Dress codes and uniforms can make school more about the learning and less about the symbolic individual expression of fashion. Students are left to communicate through language as opposed to clothing, style, designer names, bandanas, or gang colors. Dress codes help make everyone a student, as opposed to some kids being rich, some being tough, or anti-this, or pro-that. It is unifying-as the word uniform implies. Other places young people visit will still allow personal expression through fashion, but just as some professions wear business attire, and police, nurses, and firefighters wear uniforms, the school uniform is emblematic of what one does. At school, kids are there to be students.

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Gavin de Becker is widely regarded as the leading U.S. expert on the prediction and management of violence. His work has earned him three Presidential appointments and a position on a congressional committee. He is currently co-chair of the Domestic Violence Council Advisory Board, and a Senior Fellow at the UCLA School of Public Policy.


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