Positive Youth Development in a School-Based Setting

A Study of the Los Angeles Police Academy Magnet School Program

by Shannon Maloney

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Positive youth development (PYD) orients youth toward pro-social and forward-looking behavior through programs that emphasize youth empowerment and involvement, focus on skill development and character building, incorporate community collaboration at multiple levels, and include positive adult role models and mentors that interact with youth in meaningful ways. Research has shown that youth exposed to programs with these features are more likely to demonstrate traits associated with development along a positive life trajectory, represented by a life free from substance abuse and violence and rich with meaningful relationships, a healthy sense of self, satisfying career, and clear ties to one's larger community.

This report expands on the current research into PYD programs and youth outcomes by examining PYD features in a public school setting. An existing program, the Los Angeles Police Academy Magnet School Program (LAPAMS), serves as a case study to examine the extent to which PYD features are incorporated in this particular mode of delivery. Specific program features, such as including law enforcement officers as key program mentors and extending the program across several years, may provide insights into how PYD approaches can be utilized by non-traditional community agents to reach youth in new ways. The report explores how law enforcement officer attributes, length of exposure to LAPAMS programming, and early exposure to LAPAMS programming relate to a set of youth outcomes.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Positive Youth Development

  • Chapter Two

    The Los Angeles Police Academy Magnet School Program: A Public School-Law Enforcement Partnership that Promotes Positive Youth Development

  • Chapter Three

    Study Aims and Approach

  • Chapter Four

    LAPAMS and Positive Youth Development

  • Chapter Five

    Police officers in the LAPAMS program

  • Chapter Six

    LAPAMS Program Exposure, Officer Quality and Selected Youth Outcomes

  • Chapter Seven


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This document was submitted as a dissertation in September 2014 in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the doctoral degree in public policy analysis at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. The faculty committee that supervised and approved the dissertation consisted of Gery Ryan (Chair), Joie Acosta, and Anita Chandra.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Dissertation series. Pardee RAND dissertations are produced by graduate fellows of the Pardee RAND Graduate School, the world's leading producer of Ph.D.'s in policy analysis. The dissertations are supervised, reviewed, and approved by a Pardee RAND faculty committee overseeing each dissertation.

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