Police: School uniforms could curb gang activity in Harford Co.
Jul 5, 2007
Bel Air, Md. - Police in Harford County are backing a proposal to require middle and high school students to wear school uniforms, saying it could help curb gang violence.
Support for the idea has been gaining momentum in the county, with the school board calling for a report gauging public interest by December. Some officials say uniforms could be required by the 2008 academic year, given public support.
Advocates for school uniforms say they boost student pride and achievement and reduce social pressure to wear expensive fashions. Opponents point to the lack of hard data that those claims are true.
A spokesman with the Harford County sheriff's gang suppression unit told The Baltimore Examiner the uniforms could help in the county's growing problem with gangs.
"It's almost like taking away their identity," said Cpl. Thomas Gamble, noting that gang members tout their affiliation by wearing gang colors, while other students feel compelled to wear neutral colors to avoid being mistaken for a gang member.
Gamble said schools along the Route 40 corridor and high schools such as C. Milton Wright and Harford have had gang problems recently.
The school board included researching the school uniform issue in its five-year strategic plan. Currently, individual schools can adopt uniforms on a voluntary basis.
In April, the student government body - the Harford County Regional Association of Student Councils - voted in favor of uniforms. The idea also has the support of some parent-teacher organizations in the county.
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