Tamaqua Area School Board was approached this week by parents who were upset over a segment in the district's dress code relating to shoes.

The board heard complaints that the dress code doesn't allow students to wear shoes with two different types of laces, to wear laces with designs on them, and having laces which are very thick.

One parent called shoe checks at the school "petty."

School Board President Larry Wittig responded to that parent, "I agree with you, it does seem petty. But when you keep on relaxing, then you have what you had before - no dress code."

It's unfortunate so many people today don't know how to follow rules. Look at all the drivers who don't stop at stop signs, who don't use turn signals, and who refuse to yield at intersections with arrows for on-coming motorists. Watch all the people in public meetings where signs advise that cell phones should be turned off, but think the signs don't apply to them.

We could go on and on. Even children often have absolutely no respect. We see this with vandalism, the language of many youngsters, and their behavior in general.

Where does respect start?

A little thing like following school rules is one place. This isn't to imply that someone questioning a policy isn't respectful. However, the board is right in that if it has a dress code, it has to keep it standard.

Wittig said, "The idea of the dress code is to not differentiate between the 'haves' and 'have nots,' the bullying, the identification of 'all of us in our clique are going to wear the same color this thing or that.'"

It actually goes even further.

According to some police officers, gang activity is increasing in the area. Dress codes can prevent attire in schools that identify gang members.

Also, where there are no dress codes, students often wear offensive attire.

While there's no harm with parents protesting a dress code, the parents can use such rules to teach their youngsters respect.

Individualism is a big thing today. We often see youngsters - as well as adults - with odd-colored hair, ear rings as big as a beverage coaster, and unique tattoos.

Individualism is fine. But so are general rules and regulations. When such rules as defined in a dress code are implemented, they should be followed.

By RON GOWER

rgower@tnonline.com