I'm Proud I'm Actually Writing: Analyzing the Poetry of Urban Youth with EBD for Risk and Protective Factors


Social Work

Date of Paper/Work


Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)

Type of Paper/Work

Clinical research paper


David Roseborough


Urban youth experience any number of risk factors in their daily lives, but they also have protective factors that serve to support and shield them. This study was designed to examine how urban youth who have been given the label of Emotional or Behavioral Disorders (EBD) experience and perceive the various risk and protective factors that are present in their lives. This was done by examining 486 poems written by these youths. Data were analyzed using the framework of Search Institute's 40 Developmental Assets, as well as deductively coding for themes of risk. The following themes were used to code for developmental assets: support, empowerment, boundaries and expectations, constructive use of time, commitment to learning, positive values, social competencies, and positive identity. The eight themes developed through analysis were: lack of safety, loss, law and police, drugs, lack of relational support, poverty, race, and feeling lost. When taken together, these sixteen themes represent both the strengths and challenges these adolescents face. Possible explanations for and implications of these themes were explored, as were suggestions for future research.


urban youth, EBD, poetry, risk factors, resilience, developmental assets

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.