The purpose of this long-term qualitative study was to uncover evidence that might support components of positive youth development (PYD) in a music composition program at an urban youth detention center. The constructs of PYD come from self-determination theory—competence, autonomy, and relatedness—and formed the theoretical lens from which the data were analyzed. Over a period of 5 years, more than 700 youth participated in the program and created primarily rap music compositions. Comments from their feedback, as well as interviews, were analyzed using qualitative content analysis. Findings point to the emergence of two main categories as reasons for enjoying the program: competence and positive feelings. Creativity also emerged as linked to competence and autonomy as well as the “Good Lives Model” of detainee development. Further research on using culturally relevant and creative music programming as a tool in PYD is discussed.
International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, Vol 62, Issue 13, 2018