Children and young peoples’ lyrics and voices capturing their experiences within youth justice services

Jayne Price*, Dean Wilkinson, Charlene Crossley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review


Purpose: This paper aims to explore young peoples’ authentic experiences of youth justice services (YJS) during the Covid-19 pandemic. By adopting the creative arts-based method of lyric writing, the research team sought to empower participants through collaboration and participation and to facilitate them leading the narrative (Deakin et al., 2020). Design/methodology/approach: This research adopted a creative arts-based method in which participants worked alongside an artist to generate lyrics that captured their experiences within YJS. Such an approach demonstrated a commitment to participatory, child-first approaches. Findings: Two main themes were identified: identity and relationships. The young people vocalised resistance to frequent labelling and their ambitions to move away from past criminal identity and behaviour. Relationships with practitioners could be a source of frustration within this but were also highlighted as valuable and supportive. Research limitations/implications: As data collection was remote, owing to the Covid-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns, the opportunity to develop relationships with young people within the YJS prior to conducting the research was restricted. This approach may have also impacted recruitment of participants. The sessions presented short-term interventions and whilst follow-up sessions were offered, many did not take them up. Although the research sample is small and cannot be considered representative, it allows for a valuable insight into the experiences of young people at a particularly challenging time. Practical implications: Upon receiving our findings and recommendations, the first YJS research site has sought to further embed a relationship-based practice model and greater creative/participatory socially prescribed psychosocial therapeutic interventions, including music groups and spoken word artists to work with children and young people. Originality value: This research adds to the growing literature base surrounding creative arts-based research with children and young people for their value towards communication, pro-social identity and development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)186-199
Number of pages14
JournalSafer Communities
Issue number3
Early online date5 Apr 2023
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jun 2023


  • Arts-based methods
  • Co-production
  • Covid-19
  • Identity
  • Pandemic
  • Relationships
  • Youth justice services
  • Youth participation


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