Rap Lab

Rap Lab | | Movimento Globale per i Diritti dell’Infanzia

Rap Lab

When a youth becomes involved in the justice system either as a criminal suspect or facing administrative or civil justice, he or she enters a new world that often takes on intimidating characteristics. Logics, rhythms and languages specific to the criminal justice system are far removed from the ordinary life to which the youth is accustomed. This can often be disorienting, and, at times, feelings of alienation can risk invalidating the educational and rehabilitative path that should be implemented for the child. Many youths perceive youth justice as a system that does not accommodate their needs, realize their rights - of which they are often unaware - nor aim for true and complete rehabilitation. This perception stems from experiencing the justice process exclusively as a punishment that invalidates the central values of the procedure and the new opportunity that the process should propose to the child. This perception can negatively impact the youth’s well-being, self-esteem, relationships with criminal justice professionals, perceived fairness of the system and ability to understand, accept and participate in the procedures. Many youths, particularly those from “difficult” backgrounds, feel they lack the space and opportunity to express their opinions, thoughts, and perspectives in the criminal justice system. At the same time, professionals working in the youth justice system find communication with youths difficult because the system has specific language, norms, and values.

To address these problems, youth-friendly language, information and communication should be improved and standardised to empower youths to participate in their proceedings. RapLab thus aims to “bring” the justice system closer to the boys and girls who come into contact with it through languages and modalities that immediately engage them and activate their capabilities and skills. 

The methodology promotes the Council of Europe’s guidelines on “child-friendly justice.” Through autobiographical storytelling, personal reflection, experiential writing, and skill-sharing, the youths will record pieces of their life in “bars, ” i.e. rap form. 

The experience gained by Defence for Children International Italy in recent years in national and European contexts has enabled us to develop, test and refine a rights-based methodology that envisages direct participation by children. By doing so, DCI seeks to create spaces for children prevented from engaging in the processes they are in and to strengthen their influence in these processes.

In collaboration with the ministerial juvenile justice services (USSM Genoa and IPM Pontremoli), boys and girls will participate in narrative-musical workshops led by the association’s educational staff including an experienced rapper. In Genoa, the workshops will be held at the Defence for Children Italia headquarters in Piazza Don Gallo, and in Pontremoli, they will be held in the spaces made available by the Juvenile Penal Institute. In parallel, a mobile recording studio will travel between Genoa and Pontremoli to record the pieces developed by the youths. This project aims to provide all youths, regardless of their artistic skill, with opportunities to express themselves through music. A public event in Genoa’s Piazza Don Gallo will be organised for the boys and girls to perform their pieces, an ideal place to host socially oriented musical events.

Project Duration

1 January 2024 – 31 December 2024


The ultimate goal of this project is to enhance the educational dimension of the youth criminal justice system and activate youths’ resources and abilities so they can better understand and participate in it.

Specific Objectives:
1) Encourage participation of boys and girls who have come into contact with the justice system or are at risk of marginalization, reinforce knowledge of their rights and solicit useful reflections on their experience

2) Increase opportunities for relationships among youth, through providing a space perceived as “their own” that represents a safe, welcoming and reliable community area


Related to Objective 1:

  • Collaborate with justice services to kick off the activities and present the objectives
  • Organise workshops at the Defense for Children center in Piazza Don Gallo and IPM Pontremoli that will include instruction in:
    • Information: a rights-based framework (CRC) will be provided through activities like brainstorming, play, role-play and conversation circles.
    • Narration: thoughts and reflections of one’s past and present experiences and ideas for the future will be solicited.
    • Writing: narrative writing time will be organized, providing “technical” accompaniment to turn thoughts into “bars” or songs.
    • Listening: pieces will be listened to together and videos will be watched to analyze the technical elements and content.
    • Recording: the boys and girls will prepare their pieces with the help of an expert to create recordings.
  • Meeting to present the outcomes of the course to the services involved.

Related to Objective 2:

  • Setting up the mobile recording studio.
  • Producing and recording musical pieces.
  • Organising a final dissemination event.
Parnters and Collaborat

Ufficio del Servizio Sociale per i Minorenni (USSM) di Genova
Istituto Penale Minorile (IPM) di Pontremoli 
Istituto Comprensivo Colombo di Genova 

This project is financed by

Contact Us

Defence for Children International - Italia

Sede legale e sociale: Piazza Don Andrea Gallo 5-6-7 R - 16124 Genova 
Sede operativa: Via Bellucci 4-6 - 16124 Genova


Tel.010 0899050 Fax 010 0899051
Codice Fiscale 97457060586

Genova Via Bellucci 4-6 mappa
Defence for Children international Italia
Sede legale e sociale: Piazza Don Andrea Gallo 5-6-7 R - 16124 Genova
Sede operativa: Via Bellucci 4-6, 16124 Genova
010 0899050