Six days after U.S. bombers began pummeling Baghdad and hours after Iraqi Scud missiles struck Israel, a dispatch from a 15-year-old Israeli boy in Haifa named Nachshon appeared on an international computer network. It read in part:

There was another siren at Friday night ... I went with my father to the stadium to see the missiles in the sky, but there were no missiles (seems strange to go to the stadium instead of hiding? well, I guess, Saddam doesn't aim on my home, but on the other hand, maybe that is what should worry me) ...

What I "kind of like" in this war is that there is no school in Israel for the last week ... but I prefer school more than these missiles. My two older brothers went to the army. I hope everyone gets home soon in peace and in one piece.

It's not so nice to be a kid under air attacks. Thinking of the poor kids in Baghdad, who suffer ten times more than me, I just hate Saddam for me and for them too! I hope one day I could meet some kids from Iraq, in peace, and we would all share our bad memories from this war.

-- Bye Bye and Shalom! With tensions from the Persian Gulf War weighing even on young minds and hearts, the slightly misspelled, always hopeful missives from an ordinary boy who likes to listen to Beatles records, play water polo, and get rowdy with his little dog Kfitz, inspired a salvo of responses from dozens of children around the world who have access to computer networks.

"We are very worried," students in a Paterson, N.J., classroom messaged Nachshon three days later, with their teacher's help at the computer, after learning from a newscast of another Scud missile attack on Haifa. "We are praying for you."

They tagged on personal notes of encouragement. Julie keyed in these words: "I care very much about your welfare and I really don't like what is going on over there ... people are dying because of Saddam Hussein. I hope you are okay." Tania added this: "I just could tell you to be faithful, to pray to the Lord for this war to end. I have faith this war will end soon. I know how you are feeling now."

Even before this, some of these computer-conversant kids were writing to acknowledge and befriend each other. But, as always, with the outbreak of war everything changed. Now they compared notes on war and peace and how their small and innocent lives have been irrevocably altered in recent weeks. They "talked" about a future with no violence, no pollution, no problems, no war. They held each other's hands electronically over thousands of miles, sent reassurances that everything would be alright. This is a generation that seems to think nothing of sending its thoughts and dreams and fears far across continents and cultural barriers onto computer screens for the eyes of the world to ponder. Their correspondences are user-friendly fire from one modem to another that gives new meaning to the Psalmist adage, "Out of the mouths of babes ... ."

Within hours, the New Jersey students read this on their computer screens:

Thank you very much for your concern. I have heard about the scud attack as well. Actually, I heard it very well. The two scuds that were aimed at Haifa were intercepted by the Patriot {missiles} just above my home. The whole house shook well.

Fortunately no one was hurt ... . but I am very very sorry that we had to get into this war. I hope that in the future, after this mess ends, there will be no more such people as Sadam Hossain, that cause so much pain to their own people and to others.

Nice thing about the speed of this list: the scuds were here just 4 hours ago, and your letter was already waiting for me!

-- Nachshon from "scuddy" Israel The kid communiques started last May, when a sparsely worded query transmitted from a rural seacoast region in Norway, near Arendal, lit up on MetaNet, a politically and spiritually centered computer network based in Arlington. "Anyone care to chat a little with my daughter on the 30th of May?"

Odd de Presno, a Norwegian writer and computer-networking specialist, sent the modest request. His wife had organized a regional children's festival and urged him to contribute something. He thought perhaps his 12-year-old daughter, Katrina, and some of the other local youngsters might "chat on-line" with children in the United States and Canada. If anyone was interested, that is.

"We wanted to bring children together, keyboard-to-keyboard," says de Presno. With the help of computer networkers and educators on this side of the Atlantic, he was able to gather, in two weeks, 260 kids to participate. "Being able to collect so many kids in such a short notice," he says, "showed there was so much energy in the idea itself."

A few weeks later, when de Presno watched adults at a networking conference in San Francisco crowd around a display of printouts from the children's on-line conversations, he knew for sure he'd stumbled upon something powerful. He called his U.S. and Canadian coordinators and asked, "What are we going to do?"

That was the start of the KIDS-91 project and its chatty KIDCAFE children's computer network. Its purpose: to engage as many children as possible, ages 10 to 15, from around the world, in communicating to each other and "sharing their visions" of the future.

"We said instead of getting 260 kids, let's go for 260,000 kids," says Jonn Ord, a Toronto computer-conferencing specialist who helped to coordinate de Presno's transatlantic conference in May and now oversees KIDS-91's "mission control" from his home computer. "Kids are not afraid of these things. They're not worried about weird technology. They're just interested in communicating."

Though the KIDS-91 project initially provided its young networkers with basic questions -- conversation-starters about themselves, their hobbies, their pets, what they want to be when they grow up -- that structure was shattered as rumors of war intensified. Suddenly, small talk gave way to a scream-of-consciousness dialogue about life and death, right and wrong, war and peace. Big issues for little kids. But if, as Herbert Hoover once said, older men declare war, many of these children declared peace -- at least among themselves.

An early January note from Genevieve, an eighth-grader from Armadale in Australia:

I like riding, pop music and stars, swimming and reading. I'm worried that we are going to kill our world and it's the only one we've got ... I'd like there to be no wars and there be respect for other creatures on our planet.

A 12-year-old Latvian boy named Janis, who plays the violin and piano and wants to be a composer, sent out this message as he and his family sought refuge in Norway during the increasingly violent struggle for independence in his Baltic homeland:

I want the world to be quite different. First, I want that no nations are appresed. I want to be free both Kuwait and Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania. I hope the scientists will make a conquest of AIDS and cancer. Than, of course, I want the air and water to be clean. Our Baltic sea is very impure now. We cannot swim at Riga's Gulf.

Of course, I'll not change the World, but I must trie to guide myself by principles that seem important to me ... And, I'll never compose a hymn to praise a tyrant.

From 14-year-old Krystal, who lives in the small farming community of Fenwick, Ontario, about two hours outside Toronto:

I don't understand why we (we as a nation) are bombing the whole place and not just the one guy Suddam Sustain (spelling?). A lot of lives are being lost instead of just one.

From Prague, Czechoslovakia, this message by Marketa, who would like to be a pediatric nurse someday:

I want the world without the wars. I want all children in the world to have enough food. I want to live in the clean air and I want to drink good fresh water ... When I will be grow up I will be able to cooperative with all people in the world to live better than now.

From classmates Radmila and True, of Madison, Wis.:

Soldiers who will go to Iraq to keep Saudi Arabia from being invaded maybe are not going to come back ... so many lives have to be taken away to fight a war.

Some people think that young people don't have a right to have an opinion because they don't have authority and good sense. They are wrong! Young people are well-informed and know about the consequences of war. They learn in school to resolve conflicts by talking, but adults don't practice talking as much. They get tough and want to fight... . Some people wanted war but, some people did not. Now whether you want war or not you have no choice.

"This is real grassroots telecommunications," says Nancy Stefanik, a computer-networking specialist at the District-based Advocacy Institute and one of the organizers of KIDS-91. She estimates there have been "thousands of responses" from kids in about 20 countries so far, and several classrooms where teachers have keyed in responses from as many as 35 students and then up-loaded them into the network. "Right now, we're bombarding the international networks trying to find anyone who says, 'Hey, I've got a kid who's 12 years old, I'll let him answer.' It's really cutting-edge technology that's enabling us to see a snapshot of kids at this time."

Stefanik emphasizes that although the serious, war-provoked conversations are now designated KIDPEACE, in order to save KIDCAFE for children still wanting to log on and chat about families, pets and homework, the organizers aren't trying to bias their young participants. In fact, several children have keyed in opinions that reveal more of a fascination with war than the others. Chris, from the United Kingdom, for instance, analyzed the tally of British Tornados and allied fighter jets shot down; Colin, a Canadian boy, felt "the rights of people should be upheld everywhere in the world today," even if it meant dying to do so.

"One of my concerns, and I've been fighting hard about it, is to keep this completely unpolitical," says de Presno. "I would hate very much if we could not get Muslim kids on-line because they are considered the enemy."

De Presno's greatest frustration lately is trying to reach computer contacts in Iran and Iraq whose children might add their voices to KIDPEACE. Networkers at pre-war addresses in Kuwait no longer reply, he says. He's heard from a few networkers in Moscow, Armenia and Lithuania, but "the cost is incredible" and he's not expecting much input from them until the political dust settles in the Soviet Union. He was delighted to hear from a boy in Saudi Arabia, named Mohammed, who wants to join in on the electronic prattle of KIDCAFE.

The KIDS-91 project is one more step in creating a computer networking infrastructure of the "global village," the concept that cultural and national barriers become less defined as high-tech communications make the world smaller, says de Presno. As for the kids, he talks quixotically about putting the world's 700 million children on-line with each other. He knows this is dreaming. Yet the image is so powerful he can't dismiss it.

"There are places in Africa, for instance, where they cannot even afford a postage stamp," he says of the cost obstacles. Subscribing to SciNet, the computer network that hosts KIDPEACE and KIDCAFE, for instance, costs about $90; telecommunications fees run lower than long-distance telephone rates, but they aren't free, unless an organization or school program is picking up the tab. Yet KIDS-91 organizers are trying to make themselves widely accessible. Several computer networks worldwide provide their subscribers access to KIDS-91. And children without networking capabilities can send their contributions to "mission control" on a disk via "snail mail" (what networkers call the U.S. Postal Service), but there are no guarantees that typed or long-hand contributions can be transcribed and up-loaded into the network.

Now planning a larger, 24-hour, on-line kid chat, and the possibility of some televideo hook-ups for the children's festival this May, de Presno is pleased by the serendipitous turn of events that may yet put thousands of children from around the world on the same computer party line. "What I see is kids talking to kids," he says. "I see them turning Nachshon into the true picture of war to them. It is on a human level, on a you-and-me level, on the level of a bomb exploding over Nachshon's head. They can relate to it and it moves them much more than the CNN news, which is more like computer games. Because this is blood and flesh."

The most recent report from Nachshon:

Last night Sadam sent another missile to Haifa. I'm happy to say that the Patriot {missiles} have successfully interecepted it. But some parts flew all the way to my kibbutz and fell in the fields and gardens. No damage and no one hurt. But now Sadam has personal business with me ... Watch out Sadam -- Here I come!

For more information, write: KIDS-91, 339 Wellesley St. East, Toronto, Canada M4X1H2.