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Engaging Scottish young offenders in education through music and art

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This study examined music and art classes as a way to engage young offenders in education, and to see if such engagement had an effect on their further participation in education, self-esteem, self-control, behaviour and literacy skills. The arts are often discussed as being an inviting and safe method of entry for young offenders who may have had negative experiences with previous education in their formative years. Fourteen young offenders at Her Majesty's Young Offender Institution (HM YOI) Polmont in Scotland voluntarily participated in this ten-week study. Participants were divided into three groups: music, art and a control education group. They completed pre- and post-interviews and measures that examined their emotions, self-esteem, self-control and literacy skills. Behavioural reports and enrollment in education courses were reviewed for three months before and after the project. Results indicated increased engagement with education during and after the project for individuals in the music and art groups.

Keywords: Scotland; education; music; prison; self-esteem; young offender

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Edinburgh.

Publication date: March 1, 2010

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  • The International Journal of Community Music publishes research articles, practical discussions, timely reviews, readers' notes and special issues concerning all aspects of Community Music. The editorial board is composed of leading international scholars and practitioners spanning diverse disciplines that reflect the scope of Community Music practice and theory.
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