The reduction of violence and the introduction to positive alternatives for aggression go hand-in-hand. Instead of simply lecturing at students in our workshops, we work with students to improve classroom relationships. Our program identifies students believed to be role models among peers and we work with these selected children to improve behaviour within their own class and school. This model presents incentives to children and adolescents to create and improve their social status through inclusive behaviour, rather than violence.
The reduction of violence and the introduction to positive alternatives for aggression go hand-in-hand. Instead of simply lecturing at students in our workshops, we work with students to improve classroom relationships. Our program identifies students believed to be role models among peers and we work with these selected children to improve behavior within their own class and school. This model presents incentives to children and adolescents to create and improve their social status through inclusive behavior, rather than violence.
Matzmichim translates in english to “growth” and while our program derives from the idea that we are teaching and encouraging students to grow, in hebrew, the word takes on a more substantial meaning of personal development. We help students grow into strong young adults by teaching ways to prevent violence from initially occuring. This is not about identifying at-risk children, but rather showing these student what they can do for others in the classroom, on the playground, or outside of school. The focus of the work is not placed on the perpetrators of violence or the victims, but rather on creating a positive group dynamic and creating good role models.
An empowered child uses his or her position in a positive way. They contribute to a supportive atmosphere within the classroom that allows for growth among the student body and we conduct our programs with the belief in mind that every child can be empowered. The long-term goal of this concept is to provide alternative management tactics within classrooms, schools, and society itself.
Students are selected based on having previously shown a supportive and inclusive attitude with their classmates, thus demonstrating empowering qualities. The reinforcement of self-confidence and self-image from that one student, diminishes the aggressive nature from other children. Teams of children work together with Matzmichim to enable every classroom to be “a place of growth” in which every child is afforded an opportunity to reach his or her potential.
The leadership program is an extension from the Growing Children program. In the workshops, after the students are selected they participate in four group meetings.
In the meeting, the topics of the workshops are further developed and the students are encouraged to strengthen the support and encouragement that they bring to their classrooms. Therefore, following these meetings, the children are able to share and display what they were taught with the rest of the class and create a more open and safe environment.
Virtual communication is part of everyday life for school children.
The virtual world is taking an increasingly important place in the lives of children and young people. For today’s youth, smartphones and other forms of communication have become increasingly present in everyday life. Friendships are fostered through social networks, relationships often begin and end in the Internet, and personal status is established by postings on popular phone applications. While is a constant form of connection for youth, it is also a platform for bullying and violence to occur.
A few facts from the Israeli Internet Association:
Matzmichim does not want to advise against the use of social networks, but encourage children to use it correctly. Technology can be a positive part of students lives, but can also be used as a medium of mass circulation for spreading negative messages. Without guidance, youth have a hard time understanding the extent of possible harm caused by the media. One touch of a button is enough to cause enormous and widespread suffering. Children run the danger of causing immense harm in a matter of seconds – often very hard to take back. Often, they only become aware of the extent of their actions when the damage is already done. Therefore it is very important to bring up this topic among pupils and teachers earlier rather than later.
Matzmichim gives youth a place to discuss their experiences and stories within the virtual world. Together we review various forms of virtual violence and equip them with methods, tools and values.
Matzmichim is working with well established data to understand where problems arise and how we can help reduce violence. According to a survey by Prof. Rolider (2014), children would rather report physical violence than report virtual violence, because they are scared of being excluded and cut off from the virtual world (e.g. banned by their parents). Along with this, according to Kelling and Wilson‘s Broken Window Theory, the feeling of responsibility and sense of empathy decreases as the number of viewers increase— someone always assuming somebody else might intervene which decreases a sense of responsibility. This could be a reason why virtual violence still largely remain without response and intervention from others online.
Virtual violence can occur at any time or in any place.
In contrast to physical and verbal violence, virtual violence is not restricted to a particular time and a particular place. Children have daily access to an infinite number of online worlds at any time.
The approach of Matzmichim with regards to virtual violence
Instead of telling the students what is right and wrong, the aim of Matzmichim is to reduce violence through supportive workshops and create a feeling of belonging. We understand that 40% of children regret something that they have posted online and therefore we believe it is necessary to work in a supportive, judgement free environment. We want to help youth find new and constructive ways to communicate on the Internet — in a way they will not later regret.
USE EXISTING VALUES AND CHANGE NEGATIVE BEHAVIOUR THROUGH THEM
By discussing specific issues, the students realize what behaviour is positive or negative online.
Here are three sample questions we ask students to discuss with each other:
These questions allow for students to open their minds to thinking about social media in different ways. Though each individual has their own thoughts and opinions, we have found that these questions still provoke similar responses. Often when doing this exercise we try to use the words courage and authenticity as powerhouses.
In order to keep pace with the rapid changes in technology we are continually adapting our programs on the subject of “Virtual Violence”.