TODAY   |  August 19, 2013

Are school uniforms helping or hindering?

As they return to school this year, students are likelier than ever to arrive in uniforms. Educational psychologist Michele Borba and developmental specialist Robyn Silverman discuss the pros and cons of school uniforms.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> you have kids heading back to school. the number of public schools requiring uniforms is on the rise. nearly 1 in 5 according to the latest research. michelle is an educational psychologist and today contributor and robin is a child and team development specialist. good morning.

>> good morning.

>> you come down on opposite side of the debate. michelle, you think uniforms are a good idea.

>> i do. i think the most important thing is it creates emotional safety at a school which is pivotal to learning. it will reduce the bullying. kids are not going to pick on you because of how you dress. it's critical because of gang affiliation. but also reduces distraction. it gets down to let's focus on learning.

>> and not what we did in junior high which is stare at our closet and say have nothing to wear.

>> i don't always think uniforms are the answer. at a time when teens and preteens want to express themselves that clothes provide a vehicle, a benign vehicle to allow them to say i'm different without having to approach more risky ways of saying the same thing.

>> but do you think that shouldn't be there.

>> i love it. it's not the stuff you wear but on the inside. let's get them to be expressive as far as their thoughts and words, they have 50,000 things they're signed up for. when you walk to school let's be prepared to learn.

>> but some say if everyone is wearing the same thing, you get into a dynamic where kids are saying who wore it best? who looks good in their uniform.

>> as a body imagine expert i hear from students all the time that they feel that it allows for a lot of comparison. you think of the magazines that say who wore it best pitting one celebrity against the other. so if you have a body that's a plus size body or curvier body or tall body, short body, those girls often feel they don't look their best and when you don't feel you look your best your learning can also have parts to it.

>> it's the equal playing, financially much safer for a parent but you need to look at the wide question. i work in schools all over the world and the one thing i do, i work in korean schools and finland school everybody was dressed the same because the most important thing was about learning.

>> it's an interesting discussion to have. thank you.

>> thank you for having us.

>> coming up, eric bana opens up about his new thriller after your local news. [ music playing ]