Scientific Background

Widely used harsh disciplinary methods such as the zero-tolerance-policy, suspension and expulsion in response to violent or disruptive behavior have proven to be ineffective – and even counterproductive. Teachers need radically different methods and practical tools for responding to violent students and stressful classroom climates.

The Matzmichim (Uplifters) intervention model is based on violence prevention research led by the Gewalt Academy in Germany, where co-founder Georg Roessler was trained in violence reduction methods. The model is also based on studies conducted by senior researchers in the USA, Dr. Diane Felmlee of Penn State University’s Department of Sociology and Criminology and Dr. Robert Faris of UC Davis’ Department of Sociology. Matzmichim’s principles are drawn from the Alternative Violence Project (AVP) and the International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP). This wealth of knowledge has been translated into an evidence-based methodolgy and practice, coupled with effective strategies developed by Yony Tsouna, CEO of Matzmichim (Uplifters), and his team of professional facilitators.   

Gewalt Academy Villigst

The Academy is an umbrella organization, serving schools, youth centers, community police, social organizations, and other government officials. Ideas and theories from the Academy have been adapted to Matzmichim (Uplifters) to improve the school climate in Israel. The knowledge gained in the last decade from Germany’s “Academy of Violence Studies” and other education networks has helped Matzmichim (Uplifters) devise and develop tools that have proven to be effective.

More Information on the website

Cooperation with Dr. Robert Faris, U.S.A. 

Dr. Robert Faris is an internationally renowned researcher in the field of Sociology and an expert of social conflict. Finishing his doctorate degree at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2007, he is currently a university professor at UC Davis in California and involved in research in the areas of social psychology, social networks, deviance and delinquency. For more than a decade, he has been using social network analysis to gain an understanding of violent and destructive behavior among adolescents. In recent years, he has also published research about cyber-aggression, which is becoming increasingly important in the digital age. He has won several awards for his work and research collaborations. This research aims at creating effective violence reduction and anti-bullying programs as well as support systems for the youth.

The innovative aspect of his work was his focus on the link between aggressive behavior and popularity among children and youths. Through empirical data analysis, Dr. Faris found out that violence in general is not just a behavior displayed between different groups, but between individuals who are part of the same group and/or consider their relationship a friendship. His main theory connected to violence (verbal, physical and virtual) among children and adolescents is therefore that aggression is employed as a display of power as well as a means of attaining and maintaining it. Therefore, there is a major link between social status and aggressive behavior: Violence in many cases leads to prestige and is thus not a characteristic exclusive to specific groups within society, but is usually present within peer groups. This fact is seldom reflected in violence reduction and intervention programs, one of the main reasons why they are not successful. This alternative approach to violence, offered by Dr. Faris, is a fundamental key to understanding why children and adolescents choose to partake in bullying and other forms of violence.

For the last seven years, Uplifters has been cooperating closely with Dr. Faris in order to integrate the newest research into our work. As a consequence of the research material Dr. Faris provided, Matzmichim has been able to reevaluate and adapt our intervention methodology to incorporate the problem definition described above. Matzmichim was able to host Dr. Faris for a 5-day research exchange in 2017 and we are happy to host him again in 2019 for a duration of two weeks. During his stay, he will be lecturing in cooperation with Matzmichim C.E.O Yony Tsouna at several events all over the country. 

KIVA – Anti-Bullying Approach from Finland

Through our professional exchange with the researcher Dr. Robert Faris, we were introduced to the bullying prevention program of the Finnish Organization Kiva. Currently Kiva is regarded, as one of the most acclaimed anti-bullying programs which has been modestly effective at reducing bullying. The program of Kiva was developed at the University Turku/Finland. Kiva works closely with schools and their trainers, who conduct student lessons in classes. The program is followed by partner institutions in many other countries in an around Europe. After our first exchange, we are now examining the approaches of Kiva, to follow up with further cooperation.

More Information on the website.

International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP)

With its restorative practices, IIRP promotes social learning and the reduction of violence and antisocial behavior. By developing theory, practice and conduct research in this realm, IIRP is reaching a great audience all over the world. With the goal of positively influencing human behavior and strengthening civil society, the Matzmichim (Uplifters) principles are drawn from the International Institute for Restorative Practices. We are in close contact with the organization, their representatives and founders come to Israel often in order to share their knowledge with us. In addition, a few years ago, we traveled to the United States to learn their working methods.

More Information on the website.