Date of Award

Summer 1999

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Urban Services - Urban Education

Committee Director

Maurice R. Berube

Committee Member

James R. K. Heinen

Committee Member

M. Lee Manning

Committee Member

Petra Snowden

Committee Member

Donna B. Evans


Public opinion polls have consistently highlighted the prevalence of violence in America's schools. Specifically, school personnel have witnessed increased assault and theft related to the wearing of expensive clothing. Concomitantly, administrators have noted decreased attendance rates triggered by clothing issues. Given the gravity of these problems, school officials nationwide have enacted uniform policies in hopes of improving school safety and student behavior. However, current research establishing the effectiveness of these policies is largely anecdotal. The few studies utilizing empirical measures mainly highlight short-term outcomes and often fail to address student perceptions regarding clothing-related problems.

By contrast, this study investigated the effects of a mandatory uniform policy on student behavior and perceptions three years after its implementation. Participants included students from two large urban middle schools, one with a mandatory uniform policy and the other without. Counts of violations provided by the school district were used to assess differences in student behavior between the two schools. Additionally, the Student Perception Survey (McCarty, 1999) was used to assess attitudes toward fear of crime/harm, sense of belonging to the school community, and satisfaction with clothing policy.

Analyses indicated that students who experienced a uniform policy had less fear of crime/harm. These students also felt a greater sense of belonging. On the other hand, students in the school without a uniform policy, free to choose their own attire, reported more satisfaction with the school clothing policy than those in the school with a uniform Policy.

While there were some effects based on demographics, none of these effects interacted with the dress policy variable. Analysis of the behavioral data revealed no trends over time in terms of student violations.

Overall, results indicate that uniforms may have both positive and negative effects on student perceptions. Such findings could profit school administrators considering the implementation or modification of a mandatory uniform policy. Suggestions are made for administrators considering a change in uniform policy.


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